Quick Legal Facts
The New York Weapons Law applies equally as to concealed or unconcealed.
Persons under the age of sixteen (16) may not possess a "dangerous knife ."
A weapon may not be possessed on school grounds.
Major Cities with Knife Ordinances:
New York City
Four (4) inches maximum blade length under New York City Ordinance.
The State of New York has complex and confusing laws governing knives. These laws are aggressively enforced in the New York City metropolitan area. Knife owners are advised to exercise care and caution when selecting a knife if you reside within, or are traveling to, New York
New York law sets forth definitions for five (5) specific knife or edged weapons as follows:
As used in this article and in article four hundred, the following terms shall mean and include:
(4) Switchblade knife means any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.
(5) Gravity knife means any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.
5-a. Pilum ballistic knife means any knife which has a blade which can be projected from the handle by hand pressure applied to button, lever, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.
5-b. Metal knuckle knife means a weapon that, when closed, cannot function as a set of metal knuckles, nor as a knife and when open, can function as both a set of metal knuckles as well as a knife.
5-c. “Automatic knife” includes a stiletto, a switchblade knife, a gravity knife, a cane sword, a pilum ballistic knife, and a metal knuckle knife.
- Cane Sword means a cane or swagger stick having concealed within it a blade that may be used as a sword or stiletto.
N.Y. Penal Law § 265.00. It is a crime to simply possess any of the five (5) described knives. It is also a crime to possess certain knives, including daggers, dirks, stilettos, and/or “dangerous” knives”:
265.01 Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:
(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or Kung Fu star; or
(2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or
(5) He possesses any dangerous or deadly weapon and is not a citizen of the United States.
N.Y. Penal Law § 265.01. (Emphasis added.) While mere possession of a switchblade or gravity knife is a crime, possession of a dagger, dirk, stiletto without intent is not a crime, at least with respect to § 265.01. Persons who are not citizens of the United State are prohibited from possessing any type of weapon, regardless of intent.
To further complicate the law, New York provides that simple possession of certain knives is presumptive evidence of the intent to use the same unlawfully against another.
4. …The possession by any person of any dagger, dirk, stiletto, dangerous knife or any other weapon, instrument, appliance or substance designed, made or adapted for use primarily as a weapon, is presumptive evidence of intent to use the same unlawfully against another.
N.Y. Penal Law § 265.15(4). (Emphasis added.) This provision is aggravated by the fact that, while the terms “dagger,” “dirk,” and “razor” afford some minimal guidance as to what must be avoided, the term “dangerous knife” could mean anything.
The New York courts have established judicial guidelines as to what constitutes a dangerous knife. First, it may be any knife which, by reason of its design or other characteristics, “is primarily intended for use as a weapon.” Second, it may be a common utilitarian utensil “converted into a weapon.” Third, it may be a common utilitarian knife unmodified or not designed as a weapon, but deemed dangerous by reason of the circumstances of possession and/or the “context of activity.” In Matter of Jamie D., 59 N. Y. 2d 589 (1983). In this particular case, a “steak knife” was determined to be a dangerous weapon.
New York law regarding the “gravity” knives is also problematic. As a practical matter, a gravity knife can be any folding knife which can be opened kinetically. The police in New York City are experts at forcing folding knives to open with a flick of the wrist Anecdotal reports suggest that arrests and prosecutions for possession of a gravity knife are quite common in the New York City metropolitan area.
The New York Weapons Law applies equally as to concealed or unconcealed knives.
We caution persons who live in and travel to New York, and particularly in New York City, must exercise extreme caution regarding the carry and possession of knives. To protect yourself, the best practice is to never have a knife showing (not even the clip) and to be conservative and only carry a knife you are certain is legal. Non-citizens, whether residing or travelling in the United States, should not carry any knife in the State of New York.
Knife owners should use caution and always abide by the laws and rules regarding the possession of knives in state and municipal buildings, as well as Federal facilities and Federal land located in their state.
There is no statewide knife preemption in New York, so caution must be exercised as cities and municipalities can and do have additional knife laws. Per New York City Ordinance, a four (4) inch blade is the maximum length allowed.
Persons under the age of sixteen (16) may not possess a “dangerous knife” N.Y. Penal Law § 265 05.
A weapon may not be possessed on school grounds. N.Y. Penal Law § 265.06.
Major Cities with Knife Ordinances:
New York City.
Per New York City Ordinance, a person may only carry a knife with a blade under four inches in length:
b. It shall be unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person or have in such person’s possession, in any public place, street, or park any knife which has a blade length of four inches or more.
Copeland v. Vance
2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11654 (January 27, 2017)
The gravity knife law in New York is not overly vague.
United States v. Irazarry
509 F. Supp. 2d 198 (E.D.N.Y. 2007)
Federal judge finds folding utility razor knife not a gravity knife.
In re: Alicia P
112 Misc.2d 326 (January 27, 1982)
Vague knife laws cannot be enforced against juveniles carrying a knife.