In an odd quirk of Virginia law, you can give a child a gun for a gift but you can’t do the same thing with a knife.

A bill that would change that fact is under consideration by the Virginia State Legislature. But debate on the issue shows how divided the country is about weapon laws.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Richard H. Stuart. His proposal allows people to gift a series of knives to minors, including switchblades, a Bowie knife or a dirk.

The new law basically would mirror the state’s laws for handguns, which allows a person to gift someone under 18 a gun as long as the gun is for “the purpose of engaging in a sporting event or activity.” As Stuart said, “In Virginia a minor can use a shotgun to hunt deer, squirrel…but you couldn’t give them one of these knives to skin it with,” according to the Washington Post.

The Debate Around Minors

The bill met resistance from various members. Democratic Sen. Barbara Favola called the bill “bad public policy…why would you want to put our children at risk?”

Stuart said it’s not an issue of putting children at risk, but rather allowing people to live the lifestyle they have chosen. A father might want to give a son or daughter a knife just as they would a hunting rifle.

“I understand they may not do that in Arlington County,” Stuart said, according to the Post. “But there’s a whole other part of rural Virginia where they do things like that.”

Other States

Knife rights bills also have been introduced in Texas and West Virginia.

The Texas bill would allow people to carry whatever knife they choose, including the Bowie knife, which is currently on the list of banned knives. That’s ironic to knife-rights advocates in Texas, where Jim Bowie – the creator of the Bowie knife – died defending the Alamo.

Rep. John Frullo, a Republican from Lubbock, sponsored the bill. He already has won the Freedom’s Edge Award from Knife Rights, an advocacy group for knife owners. He won that award after the Legislature approved his measure to eliminate local laws that made knifes that were legal in one city illegal in another.

Despite growing support for knife rights, the subject remains controversial. Just the many comments on the Washington Post article linked above show how strongly people feel on the issue.

Those who oppose changes look at knives as a safety issue. Knife proponents see it more as an issue of rights. Expect the battle to continue in various states over the next few years.