published Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Tennessee Senate passes bills legalizing switchblades, barring non-U.S. citizens at polling places

  • photo
    The Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville.
    Photo by The Tennessean

NASHVILLE — With no debate, senators voted today to legalize switchblades and all knives and possibly swords with blades longer than four inches.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, passed on a 27-3 vote. The bill has yet to move in the House.

Bell said he didn’t realize there was a “problem with our knife law” until a judge told him he was unable to order a knife and have it shipped to his Tennessee. Other friends have told him they use switchblades for working or outdoor activities.

“This bill is an attempt to rewrite the knife laws ... to benefit our citizens and also to comply with what i believe to be the correct interperpretation of our Second Amendment,” Bell said.

Senators also voted 24-3 to ban anyone who is not a U.S. citizen from entering a polling place on election day unless a voter has requested their help in voting.

While Bell did not say so, concerns have been raised by lawmakers about United Nations observers coming to Tennessee and observing elections.

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoville, raised questions about the bill, saying many voting machines are “foreign made” and may be serviced by technicians who are not U.S. citizens.

Bell replied that election officials and companies should know that won’t be allowed under his bill.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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