One-armed Mexican introduces new switchblade legislation
Under current Maine law, it is illegal to own or to carry a switchblade, which might seem perfectly logical. However, for Paul Dumas Jr., a lawyer in Mexico, Maine, this law is problematic.
Dumas was injured in an electrical accident as a teenager, and since then he has lived with only one arm. He has found it particularly difficult to use folding knives, which he usually carries with him while horseback riding, as opposed to a more easily operated switchblade.
In order to open a folding knife quickly, it requires the use of two hands. However, for those who do not have their two hands, the use of these knives can be frustrating.
Dumas complains that he is tired of opening knives with his teeth, which can be difficult and dangerous. He has proposed that the state pass a new law that would allow people with one arm to carry switchblades.
“If they wanted me to register the knife with the chief of police in my town, I wouldn’t have a problem with that,” Dumas said in a press release. “We’re not trying to hide anything.”
By passing this law, Maine would be aligned with the federal law, which already permits people with one-arm to have a switchblade, so long as the blade is three inches or smaller.
“The federal law does allow an exemption for possession and transportation on federal property by a person with one arm, provided the blade itself is less than three inches long,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said in a press release.
Some amputees would prefer that their blades be on the bigger side, but according to Dumas, even this small allowance would make a world of difference.
Though these knives are currently prohibited as dangerous weapons, with support from State Representative Sheryl J. Briggs (D-District 93) of Mexico, it seems that the proposal for their legalization might be making some headway in Augusta.
Some Mainers believe that allowing the disabled to keep a switchblade on them is rational, and they understand that, for an equestrian such as Dumas, it would be more convenient to have a blade that could be opened quickly.
Even on the Hill there has been some agreement for the potential law from students who would not normally support such legislation. “[I am] all for arming yourself,” Sean Michael ‘12, a democrat, said.
Others are not persuaded that altering the current statute is a wise idea. Participants in Ron Paul's “Liberty Forum” expressed some concerns over the idea of one-armed individuals carrying this specific type of blade. A few commented that they did not believe one-armed people would be able to operate a switchblade safely because one hand is not adequate enough for control over the sensitive spring-loaded system.
Other arguments against the proposed law note the potential threat they could pose to local communities, as some Mainers do not support any type of weapons.
Though the nature of the law appears unconventional, it is clear that it will be looked at with some consideration by Maine lawmakers. It will certainly be part of the discourse in the capital throughout the upcoming months.