New York Knife Law for the Survivalist
There are four degrees of criminal possession of a weapon in New York, with a few knives being illegal to even own. However, the illegal knives are not ones that are typically thought of as survival knives, but are mostly fighting knives. Furthermore, New York’s law on the carrying of knives that are legal, or rather, its lack thereof, tends to be favorable to those who wish to own and carry sporting, survival, and other useful knives, that are not designed for fighting.
Definitions of Various Knives under New York Law
While New York law does not define every knife, it does provide the following knife definitions:
Pilum Ballistic Knife
A pilum ballistic knife is any knife with a blade that can be projected from the handle by pushing a button, spring, or other apparatus on the handle of the knife.
A gravity knife is defined as any knife with a blade that is released from the handle by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and when released, is locked in place by a button, spring, lever or other device.
A switchblade knife is any knife with a blade that opens automatically by pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.
A Summary of New York Knife Law
Following is a summary of what is legal and what is not when it comes to both owning and carrying knives in the state of New York.
In New York, you commit criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, which is a class A misdemeanor if you own a:
- Pilum ballistic knife
- Switchblade knife
- Gravity knife
You also commit criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree if you own almost any knife with the intent to use it unlawfully against another or if you possess any knife while in New York and not a citizen of the United States.
The office is upgraded to criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, which is a class D felony, if you have ever been convicted of any crime.
First and Second degree criminal possession of a weapon involve the possession of firearms, explosives, and other weapons besides knives.
It is a defense to criminal possession of a weapon for a switchblade or gravity knife that it is being carried while lawfully hunting, fishing, or trapping.
There are no statutes that specifically forbid the carrying of any knife that is legal in New York. This means that it is legal to open and conceal carry any type of legal knife, as long as you are a U.S. citizen and carrying it for a lawful purpose. Lawful purposes for carrying knives may include hunting, fishing, or participating in other lawful outdoor activities where one would normally carry a knife, and performing work related tasks that require a knife or are made easier with a knife.
You should be aware, however, that the law presumes a person carrying a dirk, dagger, or stiletto is intending to use it against another, which is a crime. This means that while it is not illegal to carry a dirk, dagger, or stiletto, per se, you may be arrested and possibly have to defend yourself in Court, if found to be carrying one. It would then be up to a jury to decide if you had the intention of using the knife against another or not. This also applies to dirks, daggers, or stilettos found inside of a vehicle. In that case, the knife would be assumed to be owned by all of the occupants of the vehicle as well.
Where you Can Find the Law
New York’s weapons statutes are located online on the New York Legislature’s website here. Case law, or Judge made law, can be found online at Justia.com or Findlaw.com. New York residents can access both statutes and case law in print and online at any Public Access library in New York. Public Access libraries are located in each county. You can locate your Public Access Library by locating your county on the Public Access Law Library list provided on the official New York State website.
Statutes concerning knives are located in NY CLS Penal § 265.00, § 265.01, and § 265.15. Annotated codes are best, so if you visit a Public Access Library, ask the librarian where to located the annotated statutes. Annotated statutes contain a list of cases that discuss each particular statute, making it easy to locate case law that has interpreted each statute, thereby expanding, restricting, and clarifying the law. A few important cases on New York life include:
- People v. Dolson, 530 NYS2d 427 (1987, City Ct)
- People v Zuniga, 759 NYS2d 86 (2003, App Div, 2d Dept)
- In re Jesse QQ., 662 NYS2d 851 (1997, 3d Dept)
- People v. Richards, 869 N.Y.S.2d 731 (2008 N.Y. Misc.)
You can look up these, or other, cases on Justia.com or Findlaw.com, or ask a librarian at a Public Access Law Library for assistance in locating the cases.
This guest blog was from Roger Blackburn of KnifeUp.com. KnifeUp is a knife resource center where you can find information on things such as best survival knives.