New Jersey was a central battle ground of the Revolutionary War. Once the Redcoats were gone and the new Constitution was submitted to the various States, the New Jersey assembly was third past the post in the race to ratify it, on December 18th, 1787. I guess this proves that New Jersey wasn’t always the dismal suburban nanny-state that most of it is today, but its knife laws still suck.
I’ll have to mention again that I’m not licensed to practice law in any state except Washington, and that none of this is meant to be relied on as legal advice. If you need to know what you can or can’t get away with under any state or local law, you’ll need to hit the law books yourself or call a lawyer in that state.
When you’re in New Jersey, Criminal Code section 2C:39-3(e) is where it all starts to go bad:
…Any person who knowingly has in his possession any gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sandclub, slingshot, cestus or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, ballistic knife, without any explainable lawful purpose, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
There are no explicit bans of fixed blades, assisted openers, lockbacks, one-hand openers, or concealed knife carry. Cesti were of course outlawed after the Great Pine Barrens Slingshot And Cestus Massacre Of 1931, making New Jersey a truly incestious state.
But I digress, because in New Jersey Criminal Code section 2C:39-5(d) takes NJ state law from incest to flat-out insanity: it’s so broad and so vague that it essentially criminalizes the carrying of ANY knife or weapon:
Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
As a lawyer I don’t understand how a statute like this hasn’t been struck down as unconstitutionally vague. There are published accounts of citizens being arrested for no other reason than having an ordinary pocketknife in their possession. With a law this broad, even a Leatherman tool or Victorinox might not have a ‘manifestly appropriate use’ under the circumstances of the moment when the cops start asking questions.
I didn’t even bother looking up whether New Jersey state law preempts local law, because it’s nearly impossible to get any worse than NJ state law anyway.
Conclusion: Everything is illegal there. Unless and until they bring their laws back in line with common sense and the U.S. constitution, avoid everything New Jersey.
I can’t wait until this series leaves the Northeast behind, and moves on to some states I could actually live in.