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Why we do not sell certain knives in the UK and Ireland

At Knivesandtools we sell many knives, in many shapes and sizes. There are however a number of knives we do not ship to the UK or Ireland. While we might have in the past. Folding knives that open with a flipper, or by assisted opening for instance. We’d like to explain the reasons behind this.

We stick to the law

First and foremost: at Knivesandtools we do everything we can to adhere to the law as strict as possible. We’ve been doing this since 1999 and we moved with the law since the start. As many know, we’re based in the Netherlands and Germany, so all knives we sell must be legal to possess in these countries. Otherwise we would not be able to stock them. Next we see whether the knives are legal in the other countries we sell to.

In the basis you as a consumer are responsible for the legality of items you import into the UK or Ireland, but we want to prevent any problems, so we do not sell certain knives if we know they are illegal. This is why we do not sell machetes in Ireland for instance. As they are specifically outlawed.

The ‘flick knife’ conundrum

On you can currently (20-11-2020) find the following definition of the banned ‘flick knife’:

flick knives (also known as ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’) - a blade hidden inside a handle which shoots out when a button is pressed

This is however a more simplified version of the actual law. Because the current Offensive Weapons Act states the following:

“(a)any knife which has a blade which opens automatically—

(i)from the closed position to the fully opened position, or

(ii)from a partially opened position to the fully opened position, by manual pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the knife, and which is sometimes known as a “flick knife” or “flick gun”; or”.

Apparently this last bit, with a ‘button, spring or other device in or attached to the knife’ also spans the use of a flipper to ‘flick open’ a knife. It also gives reason to assume that any assisted opening knife is not legal to own. Though that is easier to grasp than a manually opening flipper knife.

Grey area

To some this may be crystal clear, others might find this a grey area. It does not differentiate between a thumb stud and a flipper. We’ve come to notice that the Home Office likes to air on the side of caution, as we’ve had quite a few parcels being intercepted an destroyed. That’s where the caution stops, as they then do send quite an alarming letter to the intended recipient, warning about consequences for ‘repeat offenders’. Including fines that run into the thousands of pounds, and even years in prison. Quite harsh for a simple folding knife.

Stopping the flippers

This is why we’ve stopped selling flipper knives, assisted openers and some other knives to the UK and Ireland. We want to adhere to the law, even if it is not crystal clear. The risk for you as our customer, us as a business and all the lost merchandise are simply not worth it. We’ve worked with a ‘soft’ ban just preventing the shipping of these items, while still listing them for customers from outside the UK who were used to order from our UK website. But now we’ve decided to take them offline for good. A step other UK retailers took before us, and we expect others to follow suit in the near future as this affects everyone.

Zombie knives

The 2019 Offensive Weapons Act also includes a ban on ‘Zombie knives’. Though the definition on what makes a knife a zombie knife is not very clear. What it does say is the knife may not have: “images or words (whether on the blade or handle) that suggest that it is to be used for the purpose of violence.”. Which is why we took several other knives off our website that one could possibly classify as a ‘Zombie knife’. Though we are very curious how this will pan out in the future when the law is put to practice.

Why is Ireland affected?

Knife laws in Ireland are quite similar to those in the UK. Though they are not as strict in this area. This does however affect our Irish customers, as all parcels we ship to the Republic of Ireland are shipped to the UK, and forwarded from there. That means we cannot risk these parcels passing the UK Home Office, even though their final destination does not lay in the UK.

We hope you understand that we are not happy having to take these measures. But we had to. To protect you as our customer, and our business. More information can be found on the UK Knife Law right here. We also have a nice selection with UK Friendly knives.