back to article One-armed Maine residents whip out switchblades

In good news for one-armed residents of Maine for whom conventional knives just don't cut it, the state's Senate has agreed to allow them to carry switchblades. The bold legislative move will "eliminate a need for one-armed people to be forced to open folding knives with their teeth in emergencies", as Reuters nicely puts it …


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  1. Eden
    Thumb Up

    The Fugitive (1993)

    Now why did The Fugitive imediatly sprint to mind!

  2. Jon Massey

    thumb nubbin thingy

    I have a Whitby knife which has a little nubbin which lets you push the blade open with your thumb, one handed - I shouldn't have thought these were particularly rare?

    1. Wayne

      I hope you're in the US

      In the UK, that's probably illegal as you can open it one handed. You'd have to be able to show good reason for having it with you.

      Our knife laws are so damn stupid that Spyder make a specific pocket knife for the UK market.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: thumb nubbin thingy

      They're not that rare. They're also not legal. In the UK, at least.

      Any knife that can be opened one handed is illegal. Two handed knives and fixed blade knives can only be carried for a specific purpose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Two hands?

        Isn't a two-handed knife a sword?

        1. elderlybloke

          Two hands-too right!

          It is called a Claymore.

          Got that Seymore.

      2. Jim 48
        Thumb Down


        "Any knife that can be opened one handed is illegal. Two handed knives and fixed blade knives can only be carried for a specific purpose."

        Absolute rubbish. There is no legislation that covers how a knife is opened. The nearest thing is related to specific knife styles, e.g. flickknives & butterfly knives (balisongs)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @jim 48

          Try arguing that with the police and see how you like being banged up for conspiracy to commit an offence with a dangerous weapon, possession of an offensive weapon, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and causing a public affray.

          For the police it's siple: if you have a knife, you're likely to use it in self defence. If you're going to use it in self defence, you're committing a crime. You have a knife, you go to jail. They don't care about the technicalities of the style or whether it falls under the specific definitions. Once they've picked you out you're buggered.

          1. Lionel Baden

            @AC 8th April 2011 14:44 GMT

            Jim is 100% right but unfortunately so are you.

            When i was a kid i used to carry innumerable tools with me. thinking about it if I had got stopped by the police i probably would be in a lot of trouble, "Oh you like to take stuff apart REALLY !!!"

            I must admit i even worry about carrying around a penknife with me all the time, and the odd screwdriver/hammer lying about in the car although they always seem bloody usefull when needed.

  3. Rob Crawford

    Not nessicary

    considering there is no issues opening knives which either use thumb studs or are laid out in a similar a fashion to thecurrent version of the Leatherman Wave

    1. EngineersAnon

      No issues?

      It's a question of combining speed and safety, for individuals in back-country scenarios.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Or alternatively,

      I always travel around with assorted bits of string cut to various suitable lengths. Never failed me.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Speaking From Total Ignorance

    of anything equine, but what is it about riding a horse that may require the emergency cutting of rope?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Cowboy hangings?

      See title

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Just in case...

      Just in case your spouse comes home unexpectedly early?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    But it's alright, because...

    ....they're limiting them to three inch blades. They won't hurt anybody will they?

    Mines the one with the switchblade machete (and DEEP pockets).

  6. Jim 48


    As stated there are various one hand openers, most big manufacturers do them, including Spyderco and Benchmade. Heck, you can even get UK legal OHOs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I am curious.

    Why are switch blades so frowned upon?

    It appears to be perfectly legal for the one limbed man about Maine to carry an enormous Bowie knife and a concealed firearm, yet a small spring loaded knife is proscribed.

    Paris, as this may be a blonde question.....

    1. EngineersAnon
      IT Angle

      It has to do...

      ...with the issues with juvenile gangs in the 1950s and early 1960s. Their characteristic weapon was the switchblade, and governments-as usual-figured the problem would go away if they banned them. Of course, that didn't solve it, but the law remained on the books.

      For those who ask about equine emergencies, he had been at a horse show where a participant was dragged behind a horse, and has expressed concern about a similar situation in the backcountry, where other responders might not be available. His concerns about a fixed-blade knife in the event of a fall from a horse should, of course, be self-explanatory.

      Anyway, the IT angle?

      1. fourth of three

        Dragged behind

        "where a participant was dragged behind a horse"

        Ahh -- I did not know that. We use the break-away stirrups.

  8. EngineersAnon

    More importantly...

    Why did this hit El Reg before either of the Maine news sources I, as a resident, primarily follow?

  9. fourth of three

    Switchblades and horses

    When I was a lad, a kindly surplus-store salesperson once tried to sell me a switchblade sans spring with the spring sold separately. (He cut himself illustrating how to put it together. I declined to buy it.)

    Horses are tied -- not literally, this is terminology used to indicate attaching reins or lead shanks to objects. In the event of panic, one may wish to free the horse quickly by cutting the reins or lead. One really should use leather reins and leads, as these can be easilly broken by the horse but "western" riders tend to use very strong nylon rope, hence the need for a cutting tool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      never seen a western?

      Horses are tied -- not literally, this is terminology used to indicate attaching reins or lead shanks to objects. In the event of panic, one may wish to free the horse quickly by cutting the reins or lead

      Cue cowboy running out of saloon, pulling on loose end of rein tied to hitching rail to quickly release know leaping on and chasing baddie.

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Machine guns still fine,

    depending on the state or city laws.

    1. Identity

      Not in the US

      Fed, y'know...

  11. Chris Seiter

    Discrimination Lawsuits

    And now there will be cases where a 2-armed or no-armed person could have defended themselve if only they had the ability to carry a switchblade. No-armed like Raiden in MGS4.

  12. Nexox Enigma

    First State?

    California allows 2 inch or shorter switch blades, but thanks to federal laws, they may not be transported over state lines. There's supposedly some in-state production of them, I've never looked into it.

    Also perfectly legal in CA (And most other states, as far as I know) are assisted-opening knives - you push the blade open a bit, and then a spring takes over for the rest. They're not switch blades because you initiate the blade opening, and they spring closed when they're only open a bit.

    I have a number of the assisted opening variety, and tend not to go anywhere (except airports...) without one. Quite handy, and reasonably high quality models are cheap enough that I can treat them as semi-disposable, so I don't need to worry much about damaging them.

  13. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Double action

    I vote they also allow double action handguns in a similar vein, but of course, sensibly limited to a calibre of 9mm. Makes total sense right?

  14. elderlybloke

    In New Zealand

    I went into a Pub up at East Cape of North Island some years ago where there was a sign-"Sheath Knives not to worn in Bar"

    I was in The Forest Service and that was part of the normal equipment.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Where I live you can buy these on streetside market stalls.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guns & Knives

    Both of these can be tools, Both can be weapons.

    I don't understand why there are more restrictions on the weapon with which you have to get close to your victim and the victim has some chance of defending him/her self against and a weapon that you can stand at a distance and kill someone.

    But then I am a Brit

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    clearly an important issue

    how else are one armers to go about their robbing and killing...

    oh wait they have guns for all over there in crazy land dont they.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Now THIS is a knife...

    I spent a few years living on a biggish island in Micronesia. Most of the people I knew regularly kept a 10m length of rope, a few pairs of gloves, and a decent-sized machete in the back of their cars/trucks, just in case they wanted to set a trail through the boonies. By "decent sized" machete, of course, I mean anything over 18" -- smaller than that and you won't have enough blade force (m*v) to cut through the jungle.

    I have fond memories of carving out trails, warm rain pouring down, the machete ringing with each swing...

    Only rarely were these machetes used to depose political opponents or uncooperative business partners.

    City slickers. Sheesh.

  19. dssf

    Useless... Unless one-armed people are allowed to use:

    TRUNCHEON. Telescoping truncheon, to be precise.

    I never used a truncheon of any kind, but I did re-purpose with a hand grip one or two of the expended hatchback/lift-back shock absorbers/extenders. After removal, one was constantly stuck closed while the other was stuck open. They both had the knuckles/bearing joints affixed. If anyone assaulted me, they would have been in for "a shocker". It, to me, is downright criminal for law to say that a person defending one self cannot have extra length protection to keep at bay someone wielding a knife.

    Fortunately for me, I was never pulled over nor inspected while in possession of these in my car. No longer a car owner, i keep these (one of them at least) at home. In and around the home, they are about as useful as the odd hammer, screwdriver, empty soju bottle, drafting tools, solid but large books, very hard lotion bottles, and anything else that can be randomly grabbed in the heat of self-defense. In the States, in some states, one is not allowed to carry nor drive with a lone baseball bat. But, if a glove and ball are adjacent, it is okay...

    But, as for the one-legged vet in the link above, I suppose he could take up kinpo, jujuitsu, hapkido, and an obscure art of directed kicking and drive his false leg into an assailant's ass -- sideways or otherways. Some baddies just need to be put out of commission -- fast and direct.

  20. M7S

    IT Angle

    I beleive that an exemption for flick-knives in the UK applies to GPO engineers who might find themselves up a telegraph pole, needing a knife for their work and being reluctant, understandably, to let go of the pole with both hands.

    Now you would be correct in assuming that as I refer to GPO, telegraph poles etc that this was some time ago, and I do not know, if it even existed formally, if the permission has been "passed down" to BT or if there has been a ruling in a magistrate's (or higher) court affirming this sensible use (and perhaps extending it to others in similar circumstances) as a matter of general principle.

    Perhaps any other oldies can provide confirmatin one way or the other.

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