With surprisingly little debate today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 for this new recognition of the right to bear knives. The bill deletes from the law the 4-inch limit on the length of knives that you can carry. It also nullifies any existing limits in cities or counties and prohibits them from imposing any new ones.
The sponsor—Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville—said of course the Second Amendment applies to knives because, as we all know, colonial badasses routinely would come after you with knives, not to mention hatchets and swords, as well as muskets.
“I do believe that we should be able to carry a knife for self-defense if we see fit,” said Bell, who waved around a knife during his explanation of his bill. He pointed out it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to own a handgun carry permit.
“If my 18-year-old daughter feels the need to carry a weapon to defend herself, by law she cannot carry a pistol and it’s my contention that she should be able to carry a knife to defend herself. And she shouldn’t have to worry about going across the state and wondering whether this length knife is going to be legal in this city and illegal in that city.”
No one questioned the wisdom of letting people carry long sharp instruments in public. Senators even made little dumb jokes about the bill before voting for it.
“I appreciate you hacking away at this and cutting it down to a sharp piece of legislation that you have here," Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, told Bell. Campfield added approvingly, "This would allow people to carry swords if they so choose.”
Lawmakers haven't made it clear at this point exactly which manner of sharp objects can be carried if this bill is enacted. Are machetes legal? Arizona adopted a similar law in 2010 and, according to the New York Times, "Arizona is now considered a knife carrier’s dream, a place where everything from a samurai sword to a switchblade can be carried without a quibble."
Update: Meet the knife lobby. What took this movement so long to make it to Tennessee?