In an outcome that surprises absolutely no one, New York has been, is and likely will remain the most restrictive state in the Union when it comes to the carry and possession of personal weapons.
Though the state is infamous for its abiding hatred of guns in citizens’ hands they have spared plenty of ire for knives as well, as codified in one of the densest, most confusing and most vindictive sets of laws ever put the paper.
The short version is that any knife, any knife whatsoever, could possibly be classified on the spot as a dangerous weapon and get you hauled off to jail.
This is not hyperbole, and this is not anecdote: New York has what you would call a proud history of prosecuting these crimes, and even increasing public clamor from concerned citizens and industry partners has done absolutely nothing to stem the tide.
New York knife laws are nothing short of draconian. It is ugly, but we will share the ugly truth with you below in a vain attempt to better equip you to carry a knife in this backwards state.
What You Need to Know
- What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: *Possession of any knife may potentially result in criminal charges.*
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: No.
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: No.
- Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: No.
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 their preparations.
It is impossible to overstate just how sinister New York’s knife laws are. New York has made the possession of any knife that is designed or adapted for use primarily as a weapon a crime, and the possession is presumptive evidence of intent to use said weapon unlawfully against another.
It is a crime that will see you arrested and charged outright with no reservations, and if New York has been consistent with anything, they are highly consistent when it comes to charging innocent citizens who claim to be in possession of any kind of knife for any reason, but especially for self-defense.
They will also prosecute if the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the knife is intended to be used principally as a weapon, and not a tool.
Thanks to disgustingly all-encompassing and willfully interpretive language used in the statutes (and a lack of definitions) any knife, any knife of any kind, any knife whatsoever can and has been previously interpreted as a dangerous weapon in the state of New York.
It is the carry of the knife itself that is essentially taken for evidence of criminal wrongdoing in progress or yet to occur. Folks, I don’t say this lightly, but you would be better off to cut your food with scissors instead of a dinner knife if you really wanted to stay on the safe side.
Concealed Carry, No Permit
The concealed carry of any knife is completely foolhardy in the state of New York. You are one bad interaction away from being arrested.
Concealed Carry, With Permit
Being in possession of the nearly mythical New York State concealed weapons permit does not afford you any leeway when it comes to the carry of knives. Don’t do it.
Openly carrying any knife in New York will just get you arrested faster. Don’t.
Since you effectively cannot carry a knife anywhere for any reason in New York, a comprehensive list of all the places you are forbidden from carrying one is sort of redundant. That being said, the law specifies that you definitely cannot carry your knife into any school or onto any public transportation in New York.
New York is the worst of the worst when it comes to the carry and ownership of knives, and you should expect nothing less from the reigning champion when it comes to trampling citizens’ rights.
Carrying a knife of any kind is essentially handing the court system an invitation to prosecute you, and attempting in any way to unravel New York’s legal statutes in order to figure out under what conditions you could theoretically get away with carrying even the most innocent kind of knife is a Sisyphean task.
If you need a cutting tool, carry scissors, and they had better be those blunt, play school looking scissors at that.
Important New York State Statutes
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.
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.
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.
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.
Section 265.15 – Presumptions of possession, unlawful intent and defacement
2. 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.
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.
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.
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