For more than a half-century, the only legal access most Hoosiers had to switchblades was viewing them in the hands of youthful hoodlums in movies such as “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause.”
That’s soon to end.
Come July 1, Indiana will join a growing number of states rolling back their decades-old prohibitions on automatic spring-loaded knives, better known as switchblades.
A small provision tucked into a larger hunting and fishing bill does away with a 1957 law that made it a misdemeanor crime to manufacture, possess, display, offer, sell, lend, give away or purchase switchblades in Indiana.
“It was an obsolete law,” said state Sen. Jim Tomes, a Republican from Posey County who supported the change.
His argument: There is very little difference between the illegal spring-loaded switchblade of the past and the one-handed, spring-assisted handheld knives that are legally on the market and widely sold today.
Just don't take one to a gunfight, OK? That would really be dangerous.
I don't doubt the law's obsoleteness, and rationally I know lifting the ban makes sense. But I grew up in the switchblades-are-evil days, so emotionally it will take me a while to get used to this. You can probably blame my generation at least in part for this if you don't like the idea. Carry-around knives are incredibly useful for a wide variety of things, and so many of us codgers are having trouble getting them open with our gnarled, arthritic hands that we just had to have a little spring-loaded help.
Knife bans of any kind should never have been seen as constitutional anyway. They are clearly among the "arms" protected by the Second Amendment. If you outlaw knives, only outlaws, etc., etc., etc.
The best movie scene ever wasn't in "West Side Story" or "Rebel Without a Cause," by the way. It was in "12 Angry Men," the scene in which the Jack Klugman character shows the other jurors the proper use of the swithblade -- thurst up as soon as you flick the blade open, not down, which wastes too much time getting the knife into the proper position. There now, may have just saved your life.