Ocean City To Ban Sale Of Knives, Laser Pointers

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council voted to ban the sale of “assisted opening knives” and laser pointers in Ocean City with both most likely being passed by an emergency ordinance next Monday to become effective immediately.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ocean City Police Department Chief Ross Buzzuro and Lt. Mark Pacini requested the Mayor and City Council move an amendment to Chapter 58, Sections 121 and 123, of the town code to add the definition and prohibition of “assisted opening knife.”

This change would go along with Maryland State Law that states a person may not sell, barter, display, or offer to sell or barter a switchblade or shooting knife. Ocean City plans to take it one step further by banning “assisted opening knives.”

State law defines a switchblade or shooting knife as “a knife or a penknife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, commonly called a switchblade knife or a switchblade penknife, or a device that is designed to propel a knife from a metal sheath by means of a high-compression ejector spring, commonly called a shooting knife.”
A person who violates this state law is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or a fine of not less than $50 and not exceeding $500 or both.

The proposed ordinance on Tuesday afternoon to be enacted in Ocean City defines an “assisted opening knife” as a knife which uses an “internal mechanism, such as a spring, tension spring or mechanical device to fully open the blade once the user has depressed the flipper or thumb stud attached to the blade.”

The ordinance furthers, “It shall be unlawful for any person to display, possess, sell, barter, offer to sell, distribute, manufacture, give away, transfer or dispose of an assisted opening knife, nunchaku, a fighting knife, a throwing star, a spiked wristband, a spiked fistband, a spiked glove, a flail mace, a butterfly knife, a spiked belt, a spike ring, metal knuckles, baton, fighting ax, fighting sword, pistol crossbow, or any part thereof, assembled or unassembled…the prohibitions relative to assisted opening knife and baton do not apply to officers of the Ocean City Police Department, The Maryland State Police, the Natural Resources Police, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department and any allied police department providing assistance in Ocean City. The prohibition relative to assisted opening knife does not apply to members of the Ocean City Fire Department and EMS, while on duty.”

Buzzuro made it clear last summer in an interview with this publication that he finds knives being sold on the Boardwalk as a major concern. He expanded on that opinion this week.

“There is no need for this particular item and we are requesting prohibition of it and the sale of it on the Boardwalk and throughout the town,” Buzzuro said. “We think it is in the best interest of public safety. We are seeing an increase in weapons on our day-to-day dealings that are a danger to all, and we believe it will better serve not having them available in town.”

Councilman Doug Cymek made a motion to approve the request and will ask for the drafted ordinance to be passed by an emergency ordinance during next Monday night’s legislative session, so the law will skip its second and final reading and become effective immediately prior to the peak season.

“It is long overdue,” Cymek said.

The council voted 6-0 to approve with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas absent.

Next, an unscheduled item was brought up for discussion regarding the prohibition of the sale of laser pointers in Ocean City.

“In the last several years, we have seen a problem with laser pointers,” Buzzuro said. “The proper use is minimal, especially from what we have seen on the Boardwalk. The police department has received almost 1,000 calls for service over the past three years, with 150 in the past year. That is a lot of time and energy spent trying to investigate laser pointers. They are being directed into the eyes of ongoing persons, and they do cause injury. They have also been directed toward air craft … they are being shined in the pilot’s eyes, and this is very, very problematic and a detriment to public safety.”

Councilman Brent Ashley, who has fallen victim of laser pointers in past year, agreed with the ban of the sale of laser pointers.

“I know of one merchant on the Boardwalk who has been hit in the eyes, and had to receive medical treatment from an eye doctor several times, so I find it dangerous,” Ashley said.

Cymek agreed, citing other situations over the years.

“We have had city employees that have been struck, a police officer and a tram operator, so it is time for them to go,” Cymek said.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the request with Pillas absent. An ordinance will be drafted to ban the sale of laser pointers in Ocean City, and will also be requested to be passed by an emergency ordinance at the next legislative session on Monday night.