A federal judge in New York has dismissed Knife Rights’ lawsuit against the NYC ‘gravity knife’ law which treats just about every folding knife as a gravity knife. Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the plaintiffs, arrested knife owners and raided knife dealers, have no standing to challenge the law for being unconstitutionally vague and over-broad.
The mind reels…
As we know, NYC penal code section 265.01 prohibits the possession of switchblades and gravity knives. Under the jackbooted interpretation of the NYPD, and with the backing of DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., the term ‘gravity knife’ is taken to include any locking knife that can be wrist-flicked open by gripping the blade and using an extremely exaggerated motion of the wrist to swing the grips open from the blade.
This common-senseless definition bans just about every locking knife ever made, including the Buck 110, which no sane person would ever call a ‘gravity knife.’ (Yes Cyrus Vance, I’m calling you out as senseless. Go ahead and sue me.)
Judge Forrest decided that the arrested and raided plaintiffs, who were all victimized for possessing knives that inadvertently fell within NYC’s ass-clown definition of ‘gravity knife’, lacked the standing to challenge the law. This is because they failed to tell the court which knives they wanted to own which might or might not be banned.
Judge Forrest had never sat on a judge’s bench before she was nominated in 2010 by (you guessed it) Senator Charles Schumer. Her only listed experience was in antitrust law, a highly technical and lucrative legal field. She had no criminal law or constitutional law experience until she was sworn in in October 2011, and this decision shows that Judge Forrest is a complete greenhorn when it comes to anything that’s not antitrust-related.
First she somehow believes that the confiscation of your property, and the express threat of future prosecution, do not constitute ‘actual harm’ to the plaintiffs. This is the basis of the ‘lack of standing’ ruling.
Next she faults the plaintiffs for not telling the court which specific model of knife they’d like to own but cannot, because they don’t know if it would be considered a ‘gravity knife.’ This is a highly technical and de minimis defect in the pleadings (if it’s a defect at all) which is routinely cured by allowing the plaintiffs to amend their filings to say “Your Honor, I want to own a Buck 110 or similar lockback knife.”
The basic problem is that she fails to understand that NYC’s law is so vague, even by the DA’s admission, that the exact same knife could be considered a ‘gravity knife’ by one cop, and ‘not a gravity knife’ by another. Or that two different specimens of the same model of knife could each go either way, depending on which cop tested them or which one they handled.
Judge Forrest should have done better here, because she hasn’t always been a rubber-stamp for government outrages. Just last year the freshman judge ruled in favor of activists and journalists who feared being detained under sweeping new laws authorizing indefinite military detention. A more conservative judge would have considered that claim too speculative to confer standing, but Judge Forrest blocked the law.
She should have blocked this one too. Knife Rights is appealing the dismissal.
Finally, she made a profound procedural error when she dismissed the lawsuit instead of allowing leave for the
s decision is here.