New York Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

New York is the most hostile state in the U.S. when it comes to the ownership and carry of knives, and has made it a point to actively treat mere possession of a knife as a criminal offense, with no regard to other circumstances.

They have laws aplenty on the subject, and much of it is confusing, obfuscating or contradictory.

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Definitions which ban knives outright matter little when any knife, any knife, can be construed at the instant to be a dangerous or forbidden weapon and see you charged and arrested on the spot accordingly.

Carrying any knife of any kind has proven time and time again to be a bad idea in New York, and in response to recent scrutiny about their draconian knife laws New York’s state legislature responded by increasing restrictions and ramping up frivolous prosecutions.

New York doesn’t want or need citizens, only subjects. We’ll look at their despicable abuse of the legal system in the article below.

Relevant New York State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives

  • 265.00
  • 265.01
  • 265.02
  • 265.01-A
  • 265.05
  • 265.06
  • 265.10
  • 265.15
  • 265.20

We’ll start with definitions, for all the good it will do you, as any knife in New York becomes illegal to possess as soon as a cop thinks it should.

This is the current legal reality, not armchair theory from some writer on the internet:

Section 265.00 – Definitions

4. “Switchblade knife” means any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.

5. “Gravity knife” means any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.

5-a. “Pilum ballistic knife” means any knife which has a blade which can be projected from the handle by hand pressure applied to a button, lever, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.

5-b. “Metal knuckle knife” means a weapon that, when closed, cannot function as a set of plastic knuckles or metal knuckles, nor as a knife and when open, can function as both a set of plastic knuckles or metal knuckles as well as a knife.

5-c. “Automatic knife” includes a stiletto, a switchblade knife, a cane sword, a pilum ballistic knife, and a metal knuckle knife.

5-d. “Undetectable knife” means any knife or other instrument, which does not utilize materials that are detectable by a metal detector or magnetometer when set at a standard calibration, that is capable of ready use as a stabbing or cutting weapon and was commercially manufactured to be used as a weapon.

13. “Cane Sword” means a cane or swagger stick having concealed within it a blade that may be used as a sword or stilletto.

15-b. “Kung Fu star” means a disc-like object with sharpened points on the circumference thereof and is designed for use primarily as a weapon to be thrown.

Note that assisted opening knives are all but illegal in New York; lacking the now-standard protective “bias toward closure” language to accommodate and separate them categorically from switchblades, New York’s verbiage defining switchblades makes assisted-openers illegal per se as well.

This has already borne out in court cases involving otherwise completely innocent men.

The very next section spells out just what criminal possession of a weapon is. Just a reminder, this is New York state law, not just New York City:

Section 265.01- Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken, or “Kung Fu star”;

(2) He or she possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, machete, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, undetectable knife or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or

Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Now, don’t get your hopes up on (2). As I already mentioned, New York has a recent and decorated history with yoking up innocent people who are minding their own business carrying nothing more threatening than the mildest and most innocuous pen knife.

Also note that the knives in section (2) save the undetectable knife are not defined anywhere in the statutes.

Section 265.05 defines the crime of persons under the age of 16 being in possession of knives:

Section 265.05 – Unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen

It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of sixteen to possess any air-gun, spring-gun or other instrument or weapon in which the propelling force is a spring or air, or any gun or any instrument or weapon in or upon which any loaded or blank cartridges may be used, or any loaded or blank cartridges or ammunition therefor, or any dangerous knife; provided that the possession of rifle or shotgun or ammunition therefor by the holder of a hunting license or permit issued pursuant to article eleven of the environmental conservation law and used in accordance with said law shall not be governed by this section.

A person who violates the provisions of this section shall be adjudged a juvenile delinquent.

New York even hates businesses and commerce involved in the making of knives, as evidenced by 265.10:

Section 265.10 – Manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances

1. Any person who manufactures or causes to be manufactured any machine-gun, assault weapon, large capacity ammunition feeding device or disguised gun is guilty of a class D felony.

Any person who manufactures or causes to be manufactured any rapid-fire modification device is guilty of a class E felony. Any person who manufactures or causes to be manufactured any switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, undetectable knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, Kung Fu star, chuka stick, sandbag, sandclub or slungshot is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

2. Any person who transports or ships any machine-gun, firearm silencer, assault weapon or large capacity ammunition feeding device or disguised gun, or who transports or ships as merchandise five or more firearms, is guilty of a class D felony.

Any person who transports or ships any rapid-fire modification device is guilty of a class E felony.

Any person who transports or ships as merchandise any firearm, other than an assault weapon, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, undetectable knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, Kung Fu star, chuka stick, sandbag or slungshot is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

3. Any person who disposes of any machine-gun, assault weapon, large capacity ammunition feeding device or firearm silencer is guilty of a class D felony. Any person who disposes of any rapid-fire modification device is guilty of a class E felony.

Any person who knowingly buys, receives, disposes of, or conceals a machine-gun, firearm, large capacity ammunition feeding device, rifle or shotgun which has been defaced for the purpose of concealment or prevention of the detection of a crime or misrepresenting the identity of such machine-gun, firearm, large capacity ammunition feeding device, rifle or shotgun is guilty of a class D felony.

4. Any person who disposes of any of the weapons, instruments or appliances specified in subdivision one of section 265.01, except a firearm, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and he is guilty of a class D felony if he has previously been convicted of any crime.

5. Any person who disposes of any of the weapons, instruments, appliances or substances specified in section 265.05 to any other person under the age of sixteen years is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Later in section 265.15, we start to veer into the territory of the truly insane, as New York blares forth hysterically abusive statutes about presumptive evidence and possession of knives:

Section 265.15 – Presumptions of possession, unlawful intent and defacement

The presence in any stolen vehicle of any weapon, instrument, appliance or substance specified in sections 265.01, 265.02, 265.03, 265.04 and 265.05 is presumptive evidence of its possession by all persons occupying such vehicle at the time such weapon, instrument, appliance or substance is found.

3. The presence in an automobile, other than a stolen one or a public omnibus, of any firearm, large capacity ammunition feeding device, defaced firearm, defaced rifle or shotgun, defaced large capacity ammunition feeding device, firearm silencer, explosive or incendiary bomb, bombshell, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sandbag, sandclub or slungshot is presumptive evidence of its possession by all persons occupying such automobile at the time such weapon, instrument or appliance is found, except under the following circumstances:

(a) if such weapon, instrument or appliance is found upon the person of one of the occupants therein; (b) if such weapon, instrument or appliance is found in an automobile which is being operated for hire by a duly licensed driver in the due, lawful and proper pursuit of his or her trade, then such presumption shall not apply to the driver; or (c) if the weapon so found is a pistol or revolver and one of the occupants, not present under duress, has in his or her possession a valid license to have and carry concealed the same.

4. The possession by any person of the substance as specified in section 265.04 is presumptive evidence of possessing such substance with intent to use the same unlawfully against the person or property of another if such person is not licensed or otherwise authorized to possess such substance.

(***)The possession by any person of any dagger, dirk, stiletto, dangerous knife or any other weapon, instrument, appliance or substance designed, made or adapted for use primarily as a weapon, is presumptive evidence of intent to use the same unlawfully against another,()

It is (4) that is the crowning tyranny of them all, and the statute most responsible for the torrent of frivolous trials and prosecutions in New York. “Dangerous knife” and “any other weapon” is used in NY as a one-way ticket downtown, and make no mistake it happens every day.

Extreme Caution is Necessary

Readers, it is impossible to create a list of all the places you cannot carry a knife in New York and all the ways that even the most innocent of knives can see you charged with serious offenses and keep it within the confines of this comparatively short article.

There are countless cases of knife-related offenses that one can learn from that took place in New York, all the way from the early 1980’s through today. A simple internet search will furnish reams of evidence.

If one cares to sift through it all, you can see that New York has long been one of the most oppressive states when it comes to citizens’ ownership and carry of weapons of all kinds, the U.S. Constitution and McDonald v. Chicago be damned.

I implore you to think twice before you carry any knife in this sorry state.

No-Go Zones

Countless, but schools and public transportation in the NYC Metro area are two of the biggest. See 265.01A and 265.06 for the full tally:

Section 265.01-A – Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds when he or she knowingly has in his or her possession a rifle, shotgun, or firearm in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college, or university, except the forestry lands, wherever located, owned, maintained or held in trust for the benefit of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, now known as the State University of New York college of environmental science and forestry, or upon a school bus as defined in section one hundred forty-two of the vehicle and traffic law, without the written authorization of such educational institution; provided, however no school, as defined in subdivision ten of section eleven hundred twenty-five of the education law, shall issue such written authorization to any teacher, school administrator, or other person employed at the school who is not primarily employed as a school resource officer, police officer, peace officer, or security guard who has been issued a special armed guard registration card as defined in section eighty-nine-f of the general business law, regardless of whether the person is employed directly by such school or by a third party.

Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds is a class E felony.

It seems that knives are missing from the above statute, but New York law allows school administrators to set the code of conduct and bylaws for a school that students and visitors must adhere to. You had better believe that weapons are verboten in all such codes.

Section 265.06 – Unlawful possession of a weapon upon school grounds

It shall be unlawful for any person age sixteen or older to knowingly possess any air-gun, spring-gun or other instrument or weapon in which the propelling force is a spring, air, piston or CO2 cartridge in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college or university, without the written authorization of such educational institution.

Unlawful possession of a weapon upon school grounds is a violation.

Preemption

There is no statewide preemption in New York State. Accordingly and predictably, many cities including The Big Apple, Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester have their own tedious and increasingly restrictive laws forbidding the carry of knives. You’ll get no respite in this tyrant kingdom.

Bottom Line

New York is consistently worst-in-show when it comes to the 2nd Amendment and personal liberty, and the carry of knives is no exception.

Operating under what is essentially prosecute-on-sight authority, the carry of any knife, no matter how innocuous or small, will get you fined, arrested or prosecuted in a dozen different ways no matter where you go and what kangaroo court you have the misfortune to wind up in.

My advice? Avoid this place like the plague it is. If you cannot, you had best find some other way to open your packages and defend yourself.

Disclaimer

WARNING: This article is not to be treated as legal advice. The author is not an attorney.

Neither this website, its principals, owners, operators, contractors or employees, or the author of this article, claim any criminal or civil liability resulting from injury, death or legal action resulting from the use or misuse of the information contained in this article.

Any comprehensive self defense plan will include preparing for the legal aftermath of being caught carrying a knife in the state of New York. The reader should hire and consult with a competent attorney as part of your preparations.

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