How would you like to pay a fee, be the subject a background check, submit to fingerprinting, undergo training and a psychological evaluation, and cede discretion to a local government stooge, just for the chance to carry the pocketknife of your choice? All that and more could be on the horizon if Manhattan’s District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr. gets his way.
As we all know by now, over 60,000 people have been prosecuted in the last decade for carrying an ordinary folding knife in New York City. This is down to Vance’s twisting of state-level gravity knife law to declare that any locking knife that can be flicked open (even if it is not designed to be operated in this manner) is an illegal gravity knife. Efforts to amend the statute to require proof of criminal intent have recently stalled in the New York State Senate.
The political wrangling around this bill was no shocker. The real surprise for me came from a quote buried in a Village Voice article on the failed gravity knife reform (emphasis added):
“The Manhattan D.A.’s Office generally opposes outright decriminalization of weapons that can be used as instruments of violent crime but has not actively opposed this bill,” Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman in Vance’s office, wrote in a statement emailed to the Voice. “We would support legislation that allows for people with bona fide needs for gravity knives to get permits to carry them.”
As we’ve seen with firearms laws around the country, such “good-cause” provisions are all too often used as an excuse by the local constabulary to deny the constitutional rights of all but the wealthy or politically connected. I shudder to think of the day this lunacy would expand toward pocketknives, an altogether more commonplace tool than a firearm.
As we have also seen with firearms laws, what happens in California or New York tends to spread if left unchecked.
Fortunately for all of us, District Attorney’s don’t create new laws and right now this is just a pipe dream for Vance. Just one more way to exert control over the
subjects citizens in his dominion jurisdiction.
That being said, the best defense is a good offense. Did someone say KnifeRights.org? If you haven’t seen our interview with Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter, you can watch it here to find out what they have been doing to proactively attack unjust knife laws in America.