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What are the laws regarding knife possession in New York?

| Apr 17, 2015 | Weapons Crimes |

Most New Yorkers are familiar with the strict firearms laws in the city and state, but far fewer have a clear understanding of the laws regarding the possession of knives.

Part of the reason for this is that the state’s knife laws can be contradictory and confusing. Below is some basic information regarding the possession and use of knives in New York.

Types of knives that are legal to possess include:

— Daggers or dirks

— Stilettos

— Hunting knives

— Switchblades and gravity knives used when fishing, hunting or trapping, when the person has a valid fishing and/or hunting license

The following types are considered illegal to possess:

— Metal knuckle knives

— Ballistic or pilum knives

— Throwing stars

— Cane swords

— Stilettos, daggers or dirks carried with the intention of using them against someone in an unlawful manner

— Any knives used primarily as weapons

— Any kind of knife owned by non-citizens of the United States

— Gravity knives or switchblades without valid fishing and/or hunting license(s)

As you can tell, the restrictions are complex and indeed contradictory, and open to much interpretation. New York City imposes additional restrictions on knives, including prohibiting possession of knives with four inch or longer blades, with the exception of pocket knives.

Also, individuals are prohibited from openly carrying knives unless they are for purposes that are permissible. Exceptions include police officers, those in the military, EMTs and ambulance drivers while performing their duties, those with special permission from the police commissioner, theater group members, those in veterans or military organizations and Boy and Girl Scouts when engaged in activities requiring using a knife. Those en route to camping, picnicking or hunting activities are also exempt.

If you are charged with illegally possessing a knife, you may be able to beat the charge by proving a legal exception.

Source:, “New York Knife Laws,” accessed April. 17, 2015


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