The government quietly made these common easy-open folding knives illegal

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Kershaw flippers

The Canada Border Services Agency won a court case last November which barely made a ripple in the media, but have had an impact on the products now seen in stores in Vancouver.

Appeal No. AP-2017-012 concerned the importation of easy-open folding Kershaw brand knives into Canada, and it has basically now made knives that have a flipper assist (the little ball thing that you pry with your thumb) illegal. You wouldn’t have heard about it unless you were reading gear nerd sites (the only people who seemed to catch wind of it), but if you own one of these knives it could affect you.

“Knives that require some preliminary or simultaneous minimal manipulation of either a flipper or other non-edged parts of the blade” are now considered prohibited weapons when at the Canadian border, but it isn’t clear what it means for knives that are already in our possession. My thought is that they’ll have to pry these things from many people’s cold dead hands, as they’re no more dangerous than any other knife on the market. Heck, a fixed blade knife is probably more dangerous than a small flipper.

I reached out to the BC RCMP a week ago but was ghosted for comment, being told they would “refer [our] inquiry to our colleagues in Ottawa”. I persisted but received no response to followup questions about what this new prohibition on importing means for people in British Columbia.

The Vancouver PD were more hospitable, letting me know that there was no current or planned mass-confiscation of these types of knives. In fact the media liaison wasn’t even aware they were illegal and had no knowledge of any being confiscated since the CBSA released their statement in January letting people know they’re illegal.

MEC issued a statement saying that “Several styles of folding knives designed to open with one hand are no longer available for purchase from MEC…. knives that expose the blade though “minimal manipulation of either a flipper or other non-edged parts of the blade” are also illegal to import. The latter kind of knives have been removed from sale.”

I’m currently carrying one of these types of blades in my laptop bag, and I have another larger one that I take camping. Both were purchased from MEC, and I imagine many of you readers also possess them and will be taking them camping this summer.

For now what we know is that you will definitely get these types of knives confiscated if you try to bring them through the border. The legality of them to simply carry is something we’ll have to wait to hear from the RCMP about (cross your fingers).

There’s a petition going around that you can sign if you think this is as ridiculous as I do. HERE it is.

UPDATE MAY 8, 2018:

I spoke with Mike Palethorpe, MEC’s Merchant in their knives and tools category, to try and get more insight on the court ruling.

He couldn’t say whether or not the ruling has hurt their business, but as I originally mentioned MEC has “turned off” a number of the SKUs of knives they carried. They’re currently working with their vendors to create more “Canada-safe” knife designs that will be launching probably by next year. I’ll bring you that story when they announce them.

MEC has introduced more fixed blade knives into their range for now to make up for the lack of folders, with brands such as Helle from Norway and Mora from Sweden filling the gap.

Also, Mike cleared things up a little bit when it comes to the legality of the easy-open flipper knives you might own. Technically it’s still legal to possess them, however most retailers (like MEC) are working to comply with the new ruling and not get any out into the market. It’s all still a bit murky when it comes to what is and is not legal to import, or produce in Canada.