1-armed man wants Maine to allow him a switchblade

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A one-armed horseman is asking Maine lawmakers to allow amputees like him to carry switchblade knives, which are otherwise illegal.

SwitchbladeS Amputees
Joel Page

Paul Dumas Jr., left, speaks with Maine State Police Lt. David Bowler, center, and Rep. Sheryl Briggs, of Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 in Augusta, Maine about a bill sponsored by Briggs to allow people with one arm to have switchblades. Maine law, along with federal law, prohibits possession of spring-loaded blades, but federal law allows for an exemption for a person with one arm. ( AP Photo/Joel Page)

Paul Dumas Jr. of the Maine town of Mexico says that with only one arm — he lost the other to an electrical accident as a teenager — he can't react quickly enough in emergency situations like at an equestrian event he attended a few years ago.

"This is very selfish," said Dumas, also an attorney, who currently is forced to use folding knives. "I'm tired of opening knives with my teeth."

Like federal law, Maine statutes prohibit possession and distribution of spring-loaded blades. 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 3 inches long, said Donald Clark, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maine.

State Rep. Sheryl Briggs of Mexico, at Dumas' request, is asking for Maine to build a similar exemption into its law that would apply all over the state, not just on public property. The bill is awaiting a public hearing.

The proposal is rare, if not unique. Neither Clark nor Briggs was aware of any other states that have or are seeking such exemptions. An official with an organization that represents 2 million people with limb loss agreed.

"We have never heard of or been part of anything like that," said Dan Ignescewski, government relations coordinator for the Amputee Coalition of America.

Dumas, who uses a letter opener to tear into envelopes at work, lost his right arm when he suffered an electrical burn as a teenager.

The owner of four horses, he likes to carry a knife when riding — just in case — but refuses to use a non-folding sheath knife because it would pose a danger if he fell. So he ends up bringing a folding knife.

"I would not go on a trail ride without a knife," he said.

Dumas recalled that a few years ago at a horseback skills event, a horse got tangled in rope and fell to the ground. Someone called out, asking whether anyone had a knife to free the struggling animal.

"I did have a folding knife that I carried on my belt," Dumas said. "If I had been closer, I would have been the one with a knife."

Briggs and Dumas met Tuesday with a state police official to refine the bill and make sure it allows what's intended.

"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. "We're not trying to hide anything — just trying to get Maine in line with federal law."

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 's picture

NH just updated their laws to

NH just updated their laws to allow for the sale and possession of switchblades, and stilettos.

There is no reason why Maine should not do the same. These anti-knife laws are antiquated and have no real basis or merit and It's time Maine joined NH in repealing them as well.

Bob Deschenes's picture

Switchblade law

I vote for Paul Dumas for his new exception to the present I lost my left thumb years ago and have an impossible time opening a regular knive with that hand. Maine should grant him this law.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It is the Pirate's belief

It is the Pirate's belief that any man who wants to be carrying a switch blade in the State of Maine, is already doing it. Just a hunch...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Does the word "hunch" not

Does the word "hunch" not strike any chords with you, Tron?

 's picture

geez look at the pic

hmmm he seems to have an attachemnt for his arm so he is not armless as indicated
mr lepage or who ever is in office should not give favors to special groups
they do not ant to be labeled as handi-cap so no favors i bet he has a handi-cap placards to boot as well NO MEANS NO!like jimi said "there are knives that you can open one handed

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What's he want a switchblade

What's he want a switchblade for? The man has a hook; the envy of every pirate.

There are plenty of knives on

There are plenty of knives on the market that are specifically made to be opened one-handed, I see this as a complete non-issue and no changes should be made to the law.


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