New York City Knife Laws

New York City Knife Laws: A Simple Cheat Sheet With All You Need To Know

In Uncategorized by M.D. Creekmore

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New York City Knife Laws

Many weapons law experts believe New York City knife laws are at best confusing and at worst contradictory to the knife laws mandated by the State of New York. Several court decisions have attempted to unify New York state and city law, with many of the cases appealed for further clarification.

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On average, more than 4,000 people are arrested every year in New York City for carrying a gravity knife. One of the reasons for the high arrest rate is New York City knife laws include a provision that states it is a crime for anyone to open a knife by flicking a wrist.

Here are the knives New York City residents and visitors are allowed to own:

  • Hunting
  • Dirk
  • Dagger
  • Stiletto

Here are the knives you cannot own in New York City:

  • Ballistic
  • Can Sword
  • Metal Knuckle
  • Throwing Star

You must be a United States citizen to own a knife in New York City. Municipal law makes it illegal to own a gravity knife unless you obtain a valid hunting and/or fishing license. City law prohibits owning a knife of any kind, if the intention of using the knife is to hurt another person.

What New York City Knife Laws Mandate

Here is the how New York City knife law reads in regards to criminal charges:

  • 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, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sand club, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or “Kung Fu star”; or

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


Written into a New York City ordinance, a resident or visitor to the city is allowed to carry a knife that measures fewer than four inches.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person or have in such person’s possession, in any public place, street, or park any knife which has a blade length of four inches or more.”

Although legal to own, New York City law prohibits the open and concealed carrying of a dirk, dagger, or stiletto, if the intent on carrying any of the three knives is to use the weapon to harm another person. New York City does not have either an open or concealed carry law. Implicit in the absence of open and concealed carry knife laws is the premise that carrying any type of legal knife is allowed based on good intent.

One of the many quirks of New York City knife laws is the provision that presumes bad intent for people open and concealed carrying legal knives such as dirks, daggers, and stilettos. You can contest the presumption of bad intent in court, but that leaves you at the mercy of a judge or jury that might view New York City knife laws in a legal light that is not favorable for your case.

Determining whether someone carried a dirk, dagger, or stiletto with the purpose of hurting someone else is a murky legal water to traverse. As it is hard to read someone’s mind, judges and juries often turn to past criminal records to determine guilt in a legal to carry knife law case.

In the People v. Richards, the jury ruled in favor of Mr. Richards because he did not display the knife he was carrying in a threatening manner, nor did he make a verbal threat to harm another person. In this case, Mr. Richards told arresting officers he carried the knife for self-defense and the jury concurred. However, other cases have ruled against the defendant because of a prior arrest for committing a violent act.

Important Provisions of New York City Knife Laws

One exception to the knives deemed illegal to own and carry involves possessing a gravity knife and/or a switchblade. New York City knife laws permits the use of the banned knives for fishing, hunting, and trapping purposes, but you must present a valid fishing and/or hunting license to enjoy the legal exemption. New York City law defines a switchblade to be “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.” Gravity knives contain a blade that releases from a handle, sheath, or the application of centrifugal force.

Knives Stored in Vehicles

Any knife discovered inside a vehicle in New York City is deemed to be the property of every occupant of the vehicle. That is, unless a knife is discovered on one of the occupants. Several court cases have established the precedent that even if one occupant takes a knife out of a pocket and places in on a car seat unseen, the knife is still considered the possession of every occupant of the vehicle. For any vehicle hired by a customer, the driver of the hired vehicle is not presumed to be the owner of the knife.

Age and Schools

New York City knife laws states anyone under the age of 16 is not permitted to own and/or carry a “dangerous knife,” as defined by New York state law (N.Y. Penal Law § 265 05). The next clause in the New York state penal code makes it unlawful for anyone to possess a weapon on school grounds.

New York City Knife Laws Moving Forward

The growing calls for gun more control legislation in New York state has Second Amendment advocates worried about the status of knife laws in the state. Moreover, since New York City often sets the standard for weapon restrictions in the state, it is possible more stringent knife laws might receive approval from the New York City Council as soon as 2019.

Note: None of the material in this article should be interpreted as legal advice.  I am not a lawyer.  Never take any action with legal consequences without first consulting with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.  This article should not be relied upon for making legal decisions.  This information is provided for scholarship and general information only.

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M.D. Creekmore

Owner / Editor at
Hello, I’m M.D. Creekmore. I’ve been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find at as well as Barnes and Noble. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
M.D. Creekmore