Know Your Knife Laws #11: New York Sucks

New York Knife Law

New York was once a free state. And its elected officials were once men of courage and vision instead of corrupt and pusillanimous douchebags. Four of its residents affixed their names and their fates to the Declaration Of Independence, which was no mean act of courage. John Jay negotiated the young Republic’s first peace treaty with Britain before serving as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and then as the second Governor of New York State. Sadly, John Jay has been dead for 184 years, and the freedoms he fought for in New York are as dead as the great statesman and jurist himself . . .

Let me put this bluntly: New York is occupied territory when we’re talking about effective (armed) self-defense. It’s not that the Empire State has a confusing and contradictory patchwork of stupid knife laws (although it does.) And it’s not that there are many kinds of knives which are illegal per se (although there are.) It’s not even that the definition of ‘gravity knife’ is interpreted by judges to include just about any locking folding knife (and it is.)

It’s that the mere possession of any weapon, including any kind of knife, triggers a legal presumption that you intend to use it unlawfully against another person. That’s what Public Law 265.15.4 clearly states, and that’s how the police enforce it. Particularly in NYC and its environs.

Upstate NY, where I grew up as a boy, was and is a much more relaxed place. But the written laws there are still not on your side; if you have a knife you’re presumed to be planning to slash someone with it.

That’s what happened to Clayton Baltzer this time last year, when the youth-camp counselor was arrested and charged with a high-grade misdemeanor for carrying a small pocketknife. No human in their right mind would consider an ordinary lockback to be a ‘gravity knife,’ but one of New York’s Finest (finest what, I wonder?) eventually succeeded in gripping the blade between his fingers and snapping his wrist violently downward until the handle opened.

This maneuver, the ‘NYPD Flick,’ will turn ANY lockblade into a ‘gravity knife.’ It’s kind of like handing a 10/22 to an epileptic and calling it a machine gun, but this is the kind of twisted logic that rules in the lunatic asylum that is the New York criminal justice system.

New York’s knife laws have gotten me too depressed to go into any more detail. The only prudent advice for any knife fan or gun guy traveling to New York (and this isn’t legal advice) is to skip the trip and go to a free state instead. If you absolutely have to go to NY, don’t take any guns or knives.

And hope nothing bad happens.

And don’t spend any more time or money than you must.


  1. Larry says:

    Depends what part of NYS your talking about. NYC sure that place sucks.
    Where I live in upstate carry permits are easy to get, sure lots of paperwork and it took a 6 month wait… But no class to take no renewals good for life.

    I have never in 30 years of carrying a gun seen one sign saying I could not carry inside that business .

    As for knives where I live know one cares. No autos or double edge that’s about it.

    Walk around with a fixed blade nobody cares.

    I work for the city of Rochester, a city which most years kicks NYC’s backside in crime rates…… Nobody cares about your Assisted opener or Spyderco.

    We had a bum that used to walk around the city with a sword, we called him,” The Sheik” lol

    We had a kid on a college campus ( university of rochester) who was losing a fist fight, he pull a Kershaw assisted opener and kill the other kid. Jury found him not guilty.

    Ya we got some bad gun laws of late aka the safe act. But it’s NYC that makes NYS bad for guns and defense in general. There area still free parts of the state.

  2. BLAMMO says:

    Don’t carry anything in NYC that even possibly can be open with one hand. Don’t carry anything on your belt (sheathed or clipped) and don’t carry in a pocket with the clip visible on the outside. You will be arrested.

    Most of the rest of the state is not nearly as bad but be discrete and have a good story (i.e., reason to carry), just in case. NY cops (City or otherwise) have the best bullshit detectors in the world. They’ve heard it all from bigger and better bullshitters than you.

    Best just to stay away.

    Very funny write-up. Well done.

    1. Ken Hagler says:

      I visited New York City very briefly a couple years ago (as sort a visit as possible), and I carried a Buck 110 for the occasion. However, I knew that a cop could proclaim it a “gravity knife” by grabbing the blade with a pair of pliers and flinging it around, and that what really kept me from having any trouble with the NYPD was that I’m white, have short hair, good personal hygiene, no visible tattoos, and appeared to be upper middle class.

      Have there been any cases yet of cops arresting someone who turned out to have the resources to actually fight back effectively in court? If so, what happened? Have any judges actually gone along with NYC’s “we don’t care what the law is, we’ll do what we want” approach, or do cases just get dropped if they look like they’ll go to trial with a real lawyer representing their victim?

  3. Doc says:

    “But no class to take no renewals good for life.”

    You’re wrong on both counts… there is indeed a required class, and the SAFE act now requires renewals of pistol permits every 5 years.

    1. Dave's not here says:

      This. You beat me to it… unless he’s full of BS he either isn’t an New Yorker or he’s woefully misinformed. My bet is on the former.

      1. AmbulanceMonkee says:

        The “no renewals” part was accurate until the safe act in most counties. I believe Nassau and Suffolk counties have had renewable permits for some time.

        The “no class” part is accurate in some counties. A class is required in Oneida county but wasn’t required in Monroe 5 years ago when they issued my permit. As a current resident of Ontario county, I don’t believe they require a class, either.

        Before you discount what others are saying, recall that while it’s a state permit, they’re approved by local judges. The process varies greatly from one county to the next.

  4. Aharon says:

    Chris, thanks for the insights about NY.

  5. tgace says:

    This poster is correct about the presumption of illegal use against another in NY.

    I wrote about it once myself:

    NYC is a vastly different place from Upstate…..

  6. John says:

    Here in NYC, the crazies and the criminals have weapons to deliberately hurt innocents, but law abiding citizens cannot carry anything to defend ourselves. All we can do is surrender, flee or stay and fight; usually with disastrous results if fighting an armed thug.

  7. Brian says:

    Fuck this state ….fuck the police here …I’m a former cop myself …had the sense to go to FDNY we used to do this old school thing called “discretion “when I was a cop 20 years ago … and NOT lock everyone up for having a pocketknife …. This state is a travesty , and Ken I’m covered in tattoos So fuck playing the citizen those cuffs fit all types ….the Law here is Wrong. I’m going upstate to prison so so my only joy of still living here ( not by choice ) is now someone else is gonna pay these Assholes to watch ME feed ME and Etc Etc otherwise make a smart choice and stay the hell away from here it’s a corrupt hellhole for the rich only ….

  8. Brian says:

    I’m a bit bent with NY can you tell 🙂

  9. John says:

    Laughable. Do you take every bad court case and story you heard about from your brothers-girlfriends-cousins-roommates-dog and profess it as gospel?

    I was arrested on a non-related charge, in DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN, had a kershaw assisted opener in my bag. Not only was I not charged for having it, but when I collected my belongings after being released from BCB, my kershaw was there with all of my other stuff. Sure NYC has tough laws, sure in many cases race and where you are play a factor. But please, the notion of NYC being some Gestapo State is a joke. I’m not saying that that the laws aren’t unjustly too strict, they are. The police fuck up enough on their own, they don’t need people to stereotype them any more than I needed to be stereotyped 20 years ago as a “skinhead neo-nazi” because I was white, had a shaved head and tattoos. This “article” is as bad for bashing NYS as ignorant people bashing NYers as rude unfriendly people.

    Some of the comments are just as ignorant and stereotypical

    “…with a pocket clip… You will be arrested…”

    “…I knew a cop would…”

    Do you guys actually read what you write before you click post?

  10. matt says:

    john, clip your kershaw to your pants pocket and take the train to penn, get a slice at rose pizza and make your way to jersey transit, if you can make it to the duane read without being arrested then well call this debunked.

    put it on youtube, good luck!

  11. Joe says:

    My friend… an avid fan of renaissance owns a complete set of armour to include his sword (double edged). He was arrested and was forced to plea or go to trap for a felony when a police officer noticed his gear in the back seat of his car. Since he was not on the way to the faire… the sword was deemed illegal. Had he been en route to the faire he would have had no issue..

    Cops are tools, as is our judicial system in NYS… so obvious he was carrying a costume.

  12. Carol says:

    I am an elderly lady ,I live in the country in upstate N.Y.,there are many coyotes,I walk my little dog daily ,I would like to know if it’s lawful or not to carry a machete? I have a hunting license but do not wish to carry a rifle (22 cal) I can not get a straight answer on carrying a machete.

    1. I am not a lawyer, but the “machete ban” passed in 2015, listing them as a “deadly weapon”.

      While this does not preclude their use for lawful purpose, I can’t honestly recommend it as your intention, as stated, is to in fact use it as a weapon.

      It would be my suggestion, that you acquire an old 9-iron or other metal golf club. It is not an uncommon site in Florida to see folks walking their dog, ostensibly using it as a cane. But one that makes a good melee weapon in a pinch.

      Also, probably safer for you, as swinging a machete at a moving animal could easily result in a miss and a nasty gash to your leg. Or worse.

      My .02

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Know Your Knife Laws #11: New York Sucks

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