'Plain and simple, it’s jobs': Ohio blade law creates opportunities for manufacturing automatic knives
Rick Hinderer Knives holds tour to celebration right to produce automatic knives in Ohio
Rick Hinderer makes knives.
He started with art knives in the 1980s then transitioned to tactical tools. State law now allows him to manufacture switchblades, spring-assisted and gravity knives.
Senate Bill 140, a knife law reform bill advocated by the grassroots knife owner organization Knife Rights, took effect Monday and eliminated “the prohibition against manufacturing, possessing for sale, selling, or furnishing certain weapons other than firearms or dangerous ordnance.”
Hinderer knives:Rick Hinderer makes knives in Wayne County
On Tuesday, Hinderer hosted a factory tour at his Shreve-area business Hinderer Knives to celebrate the bill’s passage. Attendees included Knife Rights Founder and Chair Doug Ritter and Director of Legislative Affairs Todd Rathner, state Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and state Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster).
Sen. Roegner on Rick Hinderer's knife business: 'It's an American dream'
Roegner co-sponsored SB 140, championing it in the Senate after its primary sponsor, Joe Uecker, left the chamber to work for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Before signing onto the bill, Roegner had visited the factory and was taken by Hinderer’s “passion, creativity, and drive” for his product.
“It’s an American dream that they’ve built here,” Roegner said. “If you have an idea and you’re willing to put enough work into it, you’re willing to fail and try again until you succeed and that’s what America is all about.”
Wiggam, who co-sponsored the bill in the Statehouse, also credited Hinderer's inspirational story as encouragement for getting the bill passed.
"This came on my radar because of Rick and Lori Hinderer and the shop that we have here. My desire to have them expand and to always make sure government at least gets out of the way, I mean, do no harm at least. That started the process," Wiggam said.
Ohio blade law change opens the military market for businesses
Without the change in the law, Hinderer seriously considered moving his business out of Ohio so he could entertain military contracts for automatic knives. He now projects his business will double overnight, and he can expand his workforce beyond the 18 employees now working for him.
“If the military comes to me before this bill is passed and asks about getting a knife that I produce, I wasn’t going to turn it down. I was just going to move outside of Ohio,” said Hinderer, founder and CEO of Rick Hinderer Knives. “It’s a huge benefit for us and the business. Plain and simple, it’s jobs.”
Hinderer sells most of his knives for between $420 to $550 each. He manufactures manual knives, either foldable or fixed blades. He assembled the first Hinderer automatic knife after the tour Tuesday, the first legally manufactured switchblade in Ohio.
Hinderer built his first knife in the early ‘80s as a gift for a friend who was retiring from the U.S. Army. He credits horse-shoeing for giving rise to his knife-making interest, and made his first knife out of a plow point. From there, he experimented with knife-making, teaching himself techniques through trial and error.
Supporters continue fight for Ohio Knife Law Preemption
The next step for knife owner advocates is to pass legislation that will repeal and prevent local ordinances more restrictive than state law. Currently, a city or town can ban certain knives even if they’re legal to carry under Ohio law.
State Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield), who participated in Tuesday's celebration, introduced Knife Rights' Ohio Knife Law Preemption in the House. The advocacy group has helped to pass other knife law preemption bills in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“It’s a great opportunity to create some simplicity throughout our state. It’s a common-sense piece of legislation. It makes it so if a person is traveling from one area in Ohio to another, there are no issues of breaking the law,” said Cutrona, who introduced House Bill 243 for knife law preemption in Ohio.
Roegner is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate.
Knife Rights worked for six years to get SB 140 passed in Ohio. Rathner gave pens used by Gov. Mike DeWine to sign the bill into law to Uecker, Roegner, Wiggam, and Jim Irvine, co-director of FASTER Saves Lives, which provides active shooter demonstrations and training for school officials, and who also helped lobby for SB 140.
The group’s work continues “so people can carry whatever tool they want in their pocket, at work, at home and don’t have to worry about being arrest because of how the tool opens, the length of the blade, or the shape of the blade,” Ritter said.
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