NY Court Sets Aside Gravity Knife Charge: WARNING! DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING for Now

This is a positive outcome for a number of reasons, but most importantly because, while it unfortunately affirms the so-called “wrist flick test” as a means of identifying a Gravity Knife in New York, which we assert in our Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit as being an unconstitutionally vague test, it recognizes that a great many people carry and use such knives for lawful purposes, both throughout the U.S. as well as in New York. Further, the court acknowledged that the law has been criticized for its harsh impact on the law abiding citizen and specifically cites the case of Knife Rights’ plaintiff John Copeland as one example. The court then goes on to note that the legislature has made several attempts to try and ameliorate the harsh nature of the law by making intent to use for a criminal purpose an element of the offense, rather than mere possession. Finally, the court found that the fact that the defendant had no criminal intent was, in part, a basis for dismissing his indictment, “in the interest of justice.”

WARNING! Residents of New York City and those traveling there should NOT take this as meaning that they can now carry any folding knife they want that is otherwise carried in compliance with NYC rules (under 4-inches and carried concealed). In New York the “Supreme Court” is something of a misnomer and this is not an appeals level court. We have no expectation that the New York City Police Department or District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr, will suddenly stop arresting anyone who they can allege to have a gravity knife based on the “wrist flick test.” We continue to provide the same cautions for NYC knife carriers that we have given for some time:

Note that New York City administrative code has an under-4-inch length limit and requires knives be carried concealed. Knife Rights recommends that you never carry your knife clipped to your pocket in New York City. Even when covered by a jacket, simply moving the jacket aside to get to a wallet has been enough to get folks arrested. Always ensure your knife is completely concealed at all times, including not “printing” on the outside of your clothing. In addition, be extremely circumspect about using a knife for any purpose in a public setting.

Note also that NYC has interpreted the state law against gravity knives such that if an officer can “wrist flick” the knife blade open and the knife blade locks open, that knife is an illegal gravity knife. NYC takes this position even if it requires multiple tries and use of exaggerated arm thrust or motion. Using this interpretation, most any lockblade knife might be deemed an illegal gravity knife.