Fisking Governor Cuomo’s veto statement on “Gravity Knife” Bill

 

Unfortunately, I could not find a site with these in stock.

New Yorkers suffered a major setback in the quest to restore their God-given right to keep and bear the tools of their choosing. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who never passes on an opportunity to infringe on the Second Amendment, issued an eleventh-hour veto of the Knife Law Reform Bill. This bill, which passed with overwhelming support in assembly, unanimously in the Senate, and had the support of a coalition including the NYCLU, NAACP, NRA, New York Times and Village Voice, would have protected them from the capricious and unjust prosecution for no more than simple possession of common pocketknives. It would even have protected New York City from the financial settlements that have resulted from unlawful arrests. 

Only someone as obtuse as Gov. Cuomo would side with Mayor DerpBlasio, DA Vance, and Police Commissioner O’Neill in opposition to this bill. For all his rhetoric about racial abuses in the Justice system, he failed his constituents when with this despicable veto when he had the chance to actually fix the problem.

He issued the following statement with his veto:

To the Assembly:

I am returning herewith, without approval, the following bill:

Assembly Bill Number 9042-A, entitled:

“AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to the definitions of a switchblade knife and a gravity knife”

NOT APPROVED

This bill would change the existing law and amend subdivisions 4 and 5 of Penal Law section 265.00 to exclude from the definition of “switchblade knife” and “gravity knife” those knives that have a “spring, detent, or other mechanism including but not limited to resistance to opening that creates a bias towards closure and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias towards closure and open the knife”.

This bill highlights a serious conflict between (1) protecting public safety and (2) addressing an absurd contradiction in existing commercial and enforcement practices.

First, ensuring the highest level of public safety in our State is of paramount importance. The voices of law enforcement professionals and mayors across the state are uniform in their unwavering opposition to this bill. They note that at a time when gun violence in New York continues to decline, passing a law that would promote unrestricted possession of knives designed to rapidly open with one hand would serve only to open a new door to crime and violence Statewide. And while reporting on knife crimes in New York City has only just begun, we already know that the people of New York City suffered a staggering 4,000 stabbings and slashings in 2015. And in the first half of 2016 alone, approximately half of the homicides that occurred in Manhattan borough of New York City involved knives.

Not withstanding those public safety concerns, under current New York law and practice, knives that are classified as “gravity knives” are designed, marketed and sold as work tools to construction workers and day laborers at a variety of major retailers across the State. However, any person who walks into a store and purchases the product can be subsequently arrested and prosecuted for mere possession. This construct is absurd and must be addressed but this bill unfortunately does not address it.

The bill seeks to amend a law designed to outlaw a knife created in the 1950s for use by German paratroopers, which could truly by the force of gravity alone. The law has been subsequently interpreted to include knives that could be opened with the flick of one hand. This interpretation of the “gravity knife” has resulted in a definition that is both amorphous, subject to abuse, and could include nearly any pocket knife. Rather than address that problem however, this bill would create more confusion among law enforcement and knife owners based on its ambiguous phraseology. For instance, the bill’s usage of “including but not limited to” and “designed to create a bias towards closure” would potentially legalize all folding knives. Conversely it would place the burden upon law enforcement to determine the design attributes of each given knife.

To address these concerns, I proposed modifications to the Legislature that would have allow craft and tradespeople to possess these knives without penalty, as well as create an affirmative defense for those who possessed gravity knives with no intent to use it unlawfully. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not adopt any of these modifications. The problems presented by the current law and collateral enforcement consequences cannot be ignored and must be addressed in the next legislative session. In the interim, given the flaws of this bill and the Legislatures unwillingness to adopt clarifying modifications, I am constrained to veto this bill.

This bill is disapproved,

Andrew Cuomo (signature)

In its totality, the statement comes off as a whiny, weak-sauce “justification” for his veto. However, there are certain statements contained within that bear further scrutiny ridicule:

  • This bill highlights a serious conflict between (1) protecting public safety and (2) addressing an absurd contradiction in existing commercial and enforcement practices.

As GI Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle”. But the other half is action, and Cuomo’s act of vetoing the bill has allowed this racist and unjust policy to stand.

  •  First, ensuring the highest level of public safety in our State is of paramount importance.

Well it should be, too bad you are a failure on that front. By ramming through the SAFE Act and now this veto,  you are continuing a pattern of pissing on the citizenry while empowering the criminal elements in your state.

  • The voices of law enforcement professionals and mayors across the state are uniform in their unwavering opposition to this bill

No, they are not. You are ignoring an overwhelming coalition of organizations, including many who have supported you, and whom you claim to be an advocate for, instead siding with DerpBlasio, Vance, and O’Neill.

  • They note that at a time when gun violence in New York continues to decline, passing a law that would promote unrestricted possession of knives designed to rapidly open with one hand would serve only to open a new door to crime and violence Statewide. . And while reporting on knife crimes in New York City has only just begun, we already know that the people of New York City suffered a staggering 4,000 stabbings and slashings in 2015. And in the first half of 2016 alone, approximately half of the homicides that occurred in Manhattan borough of New York City involved knives.

The old “blood in the streets” argument. Your policy of disarming the citizenry has allowed crime to flourish. As John Lott and others have repeatedly demonstrated, your argument is invalid. And nevermind the fact that most knife homicides are carried out with fixed-blade knives, usually a kitchen knife.

  • Not withstanding those public safety concerns, under current New York law and practice, knives that are classified as “gravity knives” are designed, marketed and sold as work tools to construction workers and day laborers at a variety of major retailers across the State.

In no other jurisdiction of which I am aware are common folding knives classified as “Gravity Knives”. They are simply common tools to countless law-abiding citizens in the entire rest of the country.

  • However, any person who walks into a store and purchases the product can be subsequently arrested and prosecuted for mere possession. This construct is absurd and must be addressed but this bill unfortunately does not address it.

Actually, it does. If knives with a bias towards closure were to be permitted, and this recognized by the authorities, arrests would cease.

  • The bill seeks to amend a law designed to outlaw a knife created in the 1950s for use by German paratroopers, which could truly by the force of gravity alone. The law has been subsequently interpreted to include knives that could be opened with the flick of one hand. This interpretation of the “gravity knife” has resulted in a definition that is both amorphous, subject to abuse, and could include nearly any pocket knife.

New York is the only place where this is an issue, though as we saw in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, assisted-openers can cause confusion as well – to tragic consequence.

  • Rather than address that problem however, this bill would create more confusion among law enforcement and knife owners based on its ambiguous phraseology. For instance, the bill’s usage of “including but not limited to” and “designed to create a bias towards closure” would potentially legalize all folding knives. Conversely it would place the burden upon law enforcement to determine the design attributes of each given knife.

Forgive me if I am lacking in sympathy for our public servants who are unwilling to learn the finer points of the laws they are given authority to enforce, with force if necessary. It is precisely frivolous arrest and prosecution that have caused the majority of the tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

 

  • To address these concerns, I proposed modifications to the Legislature that would have allow craft and tradespeople to possess these knives without penalty, as well as create an affirmative defense for those who possessed gravity knives with no intent to use it unlawfully. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not adopt any of these modifications..

Cry me a river. I know you failed the bar multiple times, but I would assume a Governor would grasp the concept that the Legislature legislates, and the Executive (you) executes the laws as written. Unfortunately for you, you couldn’t follow your pal BO’s example and just Executive Order what you want.

  •  The problems presented by the current law and collateral enforcement consequences cannot be ignored and must be addressed in the next legislative session. In the interim, given the flaws of this bill and the Legislatures unwillingness to adopt clarifying modifications, I am constrained to veto this bill.

On this we can agree. Unfortunately, you had the power fix this and instead you took a giant piss on the rights of your constituents. I would say “Shame on you”, but we know that in your quest for control, you have no shame.

comments

  1. Peter says:

    Next up will be a decision from the US District Court. I would expect sooner than later. The judge was most likely waiting to see if the legislation would make it unnecessary for her to make a decision. Hope springeth eternal.

    1. +1. I too believe she was deferring to the legislature to render her decision moot

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Fisking Governor Cuomo’s veto statement on “Gravity Knife” Bill

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