Friday, January 16, 2015

What exactly is a gravity knife anyway?

From the Village Voice:

A New York appeals court heard oral arguments on January 14 in a challenge to a controversial knife law that has landed tens of thousands of suspects in jail over the past ten years.

New York's "gravity knife" law was first passed in the 1950s to combat a type of knife — often quite large and resembling a switchblade — that was popular with youth gangs. In more recent years, however, law enforcement officials in New York City have been applying the statute to common pocketknives. It's a shift in interpretation that is unique to the five boroughs and has led to the prosecution of as many as 60,000 people, many of whom carry knives for their jobs.

The Village Voice conducted a lengthy investigation into the enforcement of the gravity knife law in October.

An advocacy group called Knife Rights has been challenging the law in federal court since 2012, arguing that it is so vague as to be unconstitutional under the equal-protection clause.

Under state law, any knife that opens with the "force of gravity" or "centrifugal force" can be considered a gravity knife. In practical terms, that means any knife that can be opened with a "flick of the wrist" can be, and often is, prosecuted as a gravity knife. Thanks to changes in knife technology, the definition can apply to virtually any pocketknife on the market today.

Knife Rights argues that the "flick" is so dependent on the skill of the "flicker" that it's impossible to tell which knives are illegal and which are not; a knife that may open for a practiced flicker may be impossible to open by someone less experienced, and might never have been designed to open that way to begin with. Defense attorneys echo the sentiment, saying police officers have become adept at flicking knives that even their owners wouldn't be able to open that way.


georgetheatheist said...

I'm staying with my brass knuckles.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love G the A.
He's a Purist.

Joe said...

I got busted for this "gravity knife" BS biking in Flushing Meadow park:
In New York the cops can any blade that can exit its handle on its own with one single hand motion a gravity knife.

This includes anything from a German paratrooper telescoping knife a "broken in" 007 to a small warn out 3 inch electricians knife.
If the blade hinge is warn or "broken in" to the point that the blade can swing out its handle on its own with a single hand motion (safety latch or not) the cops can call it a modified knife, gravity knife (inertia knife)and screw with you.
Its all about making money

Anonymous said...

The popo needs the money, so...

Anonymous said...

Since it is practically impossible to get a carriers permit for a handgum for protection in this city, I do carry what could be considered a gavity knife. I refuse to wait minutes for the police when seconds count. I will do what is nessesary to protect myself. I am a multiple generation born and raiser NY'er and will not allow some thug, police or otherwise prevent me from doing what may have to be done!

Anonymous said...

the cops can call it a modified knife, gravity knife (inertia knife)and screw with you.
Its all about making money

Be careful - you don't want to upset Patrick Lynch.

willie h. said...

To add to the "fun", cops I've asked don't agree on what the legal blade length is, some say 3" some 4', one said it's not legal to carry any knife at all. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

You felons should just stop bringing dangerous weapons everywhere you go.

Anonymous said...

This is the downside of Compstat. How can you have more arrests when crime is down? You go into the penal law and find obscure laws or reinterpret them to get the results you want . Don't fault Lynch or the cops. This comes from pct commanding officers,borough chiefs and in the case of untaxed cigarettes,the Chief of Department and is ultimately endorsed by the commissioner and his boss,the mayor. Cops used to have discretion in that the regular working guy was given a warning and sent on his way. The scumbag who you knew would use it to hurt someone was dealt with by locking him up. Common sense,discretion and independent thought is no longer allowed in the nypd,sad.