The Texas legislature passed House Bill 1935 on Wednesday, 5/24/17, which removes the designation of certain knives as “illegal.” This bill, when signed into law, will be effective September 1, 2017 and will remove “illegal knives” from the state laws. Prior to this change, knives over 5.5”, throwing knives, dirks, daggers, poniards, bowie knives, swords, and spears were illegal to possess in public.
Since 2010 through the efforts of national advocacy organization Knife Rights, 12 states have passed laws lessening or eliminating knife restrictions. Texas passed statewide “knife law preemption” in 2015, with the result that no city or county may have knife laws that are more restrictive than the state laws. Previously San Antonio and Corpus Christi had restrictive knife laws.
Also in 2015, the Texas prohibition on automatic opening knives was removed. Since that time, automatic opening knives have been legal to carry.
Lone Star Gun Rights’ number one issue will always be constitutional carry of firearms. However it is our firm belief that the right to “bear arms” extends to knives. In addition to our efforts to advance a constitutional carry bill, we worked countless hours during this legislative session toward the passage of HB 1935.
The battle to pass HB 1935 was a long and difficult one. It was initially passed out of committee the day before the UT stabbing. The timing made progressing the bill more difficult, but the criminal justice committee hearing it passed unanimously and was referred to local and uncontested calendar. With time running out and political mud slinging between the House and Senate killing local and consent and local and uncontested bills, LSGR and Knife Rights generated a call to action. Within 1 hour, this call to action was shared virally over social media with the result that hundreds of calls were made to Dan Patrick’s office requesting that the bill keep priority and stay on the calendar. The bill was finally read the vote was passed with 2 hours on the clock.
While the initial bill was presented with no other stipulations other than removing “illegal knife” language, concessions were required to move the bill through the legislative process after the UT stabbing. As such, HB 1935 maintains a restriction that knives over 5.5” in blade length may not be carried in prohibited places: schools, polling places, secure areas of airports, racetracks, 51% establishments, sporting events, correctional facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, mental hospitals, amusement parks, or churches. Prohibitions continue for transferring knives over 5.5” to persons under age 18 without written parental consent, and the carry of such knives by persons under 18 who are not under direct guardian supervision. HB 1935 does not supersede federal TSA regulations regarding knives.
The bill had strong bipartisan support. The Republicans supported the bill because they tend to support second amendment issues. The Democrats supported the bill because under the previous law, simple possession of a knife could be a crime, even if no actual crime was committed and the knife was legal to own. Removing these victimless crimes from the law books serves their interests of criminal justice reform.
While LSGR worked to pass legislation with no restrictions at all, in keeping with our understanding of second amendment rights, we rejoice at the bills’ passing. HB 1935 represents the greatest advance in Texas’ second amendment rights since concealed carry of firearms was authorized in 1995. While we did not get everything we wanted, HB 1935 is a major victory for freedom, for the second amendment, for LSGR, and ultimately for Texans.