I would like my satisfaction if the NYPD doesn't mind terribly thank you
October 8, 2006 4:06 PM   Subscribe

What are the laws in NYC regarding edged weapons (knives, swords) possession in private and in public?

I just moved to New York City from Orange County, in California; while I lived there, I carried a nice folding knife on a fairly regular basis, which came in handy on many occasions and never got me in trouble. Also, I fence. Will I get harassed/arrested if I carry a knife? What about a foil? Or a functional but sheathed sword, like a small sword?
posted by clockzero to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Best answer: The State of New York bans daggers, swords, switchblades, gravity knives, cane swords, and all other "dangerous or deadly weapons".

You can carry your folding knife without worry, and most likely your foil, but a functional sword could get you into trouble.
posted by vorfeed at 4:32 PM on October 8, 2006

Best answer: Oh, yeah, and this page claims that knives need to be less than 4" in length in NYC. That means the blade length rather than the handle.

I rather doubt that you will get into trouble for possessing a folding knife of any reasonable length, though, short of actually using it for violence. That said, the penalties in New York treat a folding knife with a 5" blade the same as an illegal gun(!), so I'd keep it well under 4" if I were you. More discussion here.
posted by vorfeed at 4:46 PM on October 8, 2006

NYC also has laws banning "switchblades", which open with the aid of a spring mechanism, and "gravity knives", which open with a single flick of the wrist.

See New York Penal Law section 265.00.
posted by falconred at 4:55 PM on October 8, 2006

er, or what vorfeed said.
posted by falconred at 4:56 PM on October 8, 2006

Some municipalities have special vaguely worded laws against weapons that can be applied to almost anything a cop wants to, so a short pocket knife with a good cover story is a good idea.
posted by Iron Rat at 5:12 PM on October 8, 2006

Good question. So carrying a 3.9" single-edged non-folding knife in my boot is probably a bad idea, legally speaking? I feel like it's probably just a straight-up-bad-idea, but this is something I've been curious about for a while.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:21 PM on October 8, 2006

IANAL, but I would guess that a 3.9" single-edged non-folding knife, carried openly, would probably be legal in the state of New York. That said, you would most likely get to decide its legality first-hand, in a court of law, if you got caught carrying one.

Knife laws vary wildly between states, and as Iron Rat says, a lot depends on the arresting officer. However, I would expect to lose my knife (at the very least) if I were caught carrying any non-kitchen, non-folding knife anywhere in the United States, unless I were also hunting at the time. These days the political climate is not welcoming to those who carry objects that could be used as weapons.
posted by vorfeed at 5:52 PM on October 8, 2006

Also, keep away from "bad" looking knives, get one that is utilitarian, and respectable looking.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:11 PM on October 8, 2006

Also, don't assume that if you see it on display, it's legal. I have repeatedly seen weapons that could get you arrested for sale, especially in Chinatown.

Iron Rat's advice is good: get one that isn't designed to look badass.
posted by ®@ at 9:13 PM on October 8, 2006

My experience with the NYPD and knives:

I used to carry the Spyderco Harpy (not a serrated version as shown on that page, though) with my keys. I work - and lived, at the time - in NYC, and had to visit the courthouse downtown once maybe about 10 years ago.

I forgot to leave my knife at home, and had to offer it up to the officers manning the metal detector. They looked at me like I was an idiot (no argument) and chided me for carrying such a scary-looking knife, then one officer held it up to his hand, with the open blade spanning his four fingers, measuring the length of the blade against the width of his hand.

It was just barely NOT too long, so after a couple of more threatening looks they decided they didn't want to mess with me more and just held it for me while I did my thing at the courthouse.

These days I carry a much smaller (though still Spyderco) knife, without the hooked blade.
posted by dammitjim at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2006

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