NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A5667A
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to the
definition of a gravity knife
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To clarify the definition of a gravity knife
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 defines "gravity knife."
Section 2 is the effective date.
In the 1950's, amid a widespread fear of knife crime, the legislature
enacted a sweeping ban of switch blades and gravity knives. Decades
later, coinciding with the rise of stop and frisk policing, the NYPD
expanded the application of this law to any common folding knife.
Today, the Legal Aid Society estimates at least 5,000 New Yorkers are
arrested every year for carrying a pocket knife, overwhelmingly in
Crime in New York City remains at the lowest levels in modern history.
Much of this is due to the good work of NYPD officers in preventing
crime before it happens, in partnership with communities and other city
agencies. By taking steps to identify predictive markers of crime and
addressing problems before they become crimes, New York City is one of
the safest big cities in the world. These stops distract officers from
doing the work of keeping New York safe while unfairly pushing New York-
ers with no unlawful intentions and who present no danger to public
safety into the criminal justice system.
The problem is clear, and there is near unanimous support for finding a
solution. In 2016, a similar bill passed each house of the Legislature
with overwhelming margins and bipartisan support. Organizational
support has come from the NRA, the Legal Aid Society, Knife Rights,
Brooklyn Defender Services, the Chief Defenders Association of New York,
IATSE, Safari Club International, the Congressional Sportsmen's Founda-
tion, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, JustLeadershipUSA, the AFL-CIO, the
New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislation
Caucus, criminal law professors at Yale Law School, and NYCLU. Even the
Governor's veto message, admits that the current situation is untenable.
This legislation addresses his concerns with that bill.
This bill will solve the problem by clarifying the Legislature's intent
is not to ban all pocket knives, but to ban switchblades and gravity
knives, two very specific kinds of weapons with very specific character-
istic mechanisms. Many states have passed similar legislation, including
Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and New Hampshire, without any resultant
increase in crime. Further, this bill will ensure that the Legislature's
intent is clear for prosecutors statewide and will secure uniformity in
the law's interpretations. New Yorkers shouldn't worry that a knife that
is legal in Onondaga County will be illegal in Manhattan.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
This is a new bill.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2017-2018 Regular Sessions
February 14, 2017
Introduced by M. of A. QUART -- read once and referred to the Committee
on Codes -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as
amended and recommitted to said committee
AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to the definition of a gravi-
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Subdivision 5 of section 265.00 of the penal law is amended
2 to read as follows:
3 5. "Gravity knife" means any knife which has a blade which is released
4 from the handle or sheath thereof solely by the force of gravity [or the
5 application of centrifugal force] which, when released, is locked in
6 place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.
7 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.