UPDATE: Sportsman’s Guide official Ted Itschert, the company’s manager of operations and products, said he is rescinding the knife restrictions for Sarasota County. His firm’s website will be updated within 24 hours. Sarasota County residents will now be able to buy any knife offered by the firm.
“If it’s good for the customers, we will do it,” Itschert said.
EARLIER: This strange tale began with a story I wrote last week about Columbia River Knife & Tool, a firm that makes some of the best production knives I’ve seen – certainly a great value for the money.
For those unfamiliar with the St. Paul-based retailer, it’s one of the country’s best sources for discount sporting goods, unique military surplus, survival gear, hunting and fishing supplies, and of course knives.
The firm has been around since 1977 and serves more than one-million customers per year, who generate an estimated $300 million in annual revenue.
Shipping Dan’s knife to southwest Florida should have been easy.
However, when Dan tried to place an order, he saw this prompt: WARNING: Cutlery cannot be shipped to CA; CT; DE; HI; IL; KS; LA; ME; MI; MO; NJ; NV; PA; D.C.; MA; Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties, FL; Canada or Puerto Rico.
“This was quite a surprise and shock,” Dan said in an email. “These were not huge automatic switch blades. They were just your common pocket knife with a clip. Who do you think is behind this new policy and when was it created by our local government? Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.”
I reached out to a friend of the blog, a senior official with a local law enforcement agency who’s got enough brass on his collar to know if there was some arcane knife ordinance or restriction that would prevent The Sportsman’s Guide from shipping Dan his knife.
The official, who’s an avid hunter, had just seen the restriction in his own catalogue.
He spent days researching the issue, looking for a county or city rule – any basis for the restriction.
None was found.
I reached out to the firm, calling several times and emailing. I even sent a Tweet:
@sportsmansguide. Why won’t you sell knives to your loyal customers in Sarasota County? This ain’t NYC. Please call.
Ted Itschert the company’s manager of operations and products, called Tuesday morning.
“Right now we restrict basic cutlery to Sarasota County,” he said. “Kitchen cutlery we don’t. It looks like what we restrict are Bowie knives and fighting knives. It looks like Gerber utility knives can go. Machetes cannot.”
At first he said the restriction was based on an “ATF book” that he said breaks down weapons restrictions by state, county and municipality.
I asked him to cite anything for Sarasota County or Sarasota, City of.
“You know, I’m not finding anything with the ATF here,” he said.
“Then why are we restricted,” I asked.
“I don’t know if I can answer that at the moment,” he said. “I might have to have someone look at that. We don’t want to over-restrict.”
Mr. Itschert promised that one of his staff would “research the issue.” If nothing is found, the restriction could be lifted in a couple days.
“A lot of times we will un-restrict,” he said.