Knife Rights Contests DA’s Tactics In PocketKnife Retailer Shakedown

Knife Rights Contests NY DA’s Tactics In PocketKnife Retailer Shakedown
New York DA’s Newest Attack on Second Amendment.

Browning Knife Model 111D & C
Browning Knife Model 111D & C

New York, NY –-( New York District Attorney Vance’s dramatic press conference on Thursday was quite a show with a very impressive array of so-called gravity knives and switchblades displayed, but political grandstanding doesn’t change the fact that the claims made by Vance had little basis in truth.

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “the outrageous claims made by Vance to rationalize his shakedown of honest knife retailers during his press conference were all misrepresentations or half-truths, if not outright lies. If the general media in attendance wasn’t so unfortunately uninformed of the issues and the law, as well as the technical aspects of folding knives, he might have had a more difficult time getting them to swallow the unmitigated fabrications he was dishing out.”

Since the industry’s numbers put the pocket knife-carrying population in the area of forty million, and 80% of the knives sold in America are one-handed openers of one design or another, for certain the majority of these millions understand just how absurd the DA’s claims are when they see a display of the same knives they carry and use everyday deemed to be illegal. The increased practicality and safety of these commonly used tools over more traditional pocket knives accounts for their widespread popularity.

Said Ritter, “It’s hard to imagine how Vance could be further out of touch with both the law and mainstream America.”

Vance claimed in the press conference and on their propaganda video shown and distributed that arrests for knife possession were up to 3000 last year. That appears to be a quite an exaggeration as the DA’s own press release put the figure at 2,269.

“In any case, the number is meaningless,” said Ritter. “Whichever number is used, it simply represents the increased abuse of New York’s law against gravity knives. In virtually every case where those accused have competent legal representation, the charges are dropped or dismissed. Unfortunately, not all plaintiffs get attorneys well-versed in the issue. That doesn’t change the fact that overly broad application of New York’s law is indefensible.”

In the most egregious example of this outrageous abuse of the law at the press conference, on display were Husky folding utility knives. In the landmark knife law case of U.S. v Irizarry (2007), involving an essentially identical knife originally purchased from Home Depot and an arrest on a knife possession charge by a New York cop, these knives were specifically found to not be a gravity knife.

Senior Federal District Judge Weinstein’s findings are so commonsense and clear that it is difficult to imagine that even a DA couldn’t help but to understand them. Judge Weinstein wrote:

“The prevalence of this instrument and its everyday use by law abiding mechanics makes unreasonable any inference of illegal activity drawn merely from the observation of such an instrument clipped in an individual’s pocket.

… The instrument which defendant had in his possession is a common tool. Its open possession is the equivalent of a carpenter carrying a hammer or an individual in the street carrying a cellular phone. The law cannot define as criminals tens of thousands of mechanics who are required to carry such tools in order to earn a living. Claw hammers, used by carpenters, can be used to smash skulls, screwdrivers, used by electricians, can be used to stab bodies and wall board cutters can be used to cut jugular veins, but those are not the intended or designed for uses of such instruments.”

The entire commonsense judgment makes for interesting reading here:

The import of this decision is all the more significant when you consider Judge Weinstein’s record of extreme adverse decisions on Second Amendment and weapons issues.

Despite such clear precedent, the DA seized these knives and displayed these knives at the press conference as examples of gravity knives, which is a complete fabrication with no basis in fact.

“Judge Weinstein’s decision relating to the ubiquitous and generally useful nature of the tool,” says Ritter, “equally applies to all of the widely available and commonly used pocket knives that were seized and displayed.”

“Is Vance simply ignorant of such a precedent-setting case which is so specifically applicable to New York City, or is Vance simply ignoring the law to serve his own political agenda?” asked Ritter. “Either way, it doesn’t cast the DA’s actions in a very good light.”

That Home Depot caved in to the DA’s shakedown is itself difficult to understand given their own history with the Irizarri case. Clearly, the DA’s abuse of power can be intimidating to even a major corporation which apparently either let business exigencies override principle, or perhaps were simply ill-served by their counsel. Knife Rights continues to try and make contact with senior management of Home Depot in an effort to understand their actions in this matter.

Vance also made much of the fact that 19 of the 59 homicides in Manhattan in 2009 were stabbings, yet somehow failed to mention how many of those were attributed to the very knives he wrongly claims are illegal gravity knives or switchblades.

It would be very surprising to discover that New York was so far different from the rest of the country where the vast majority of such crimes are committed with common kitchen knives. Where folding knives are used, they are often traditional, old-fashioned pocket knives designed for two-handed opening.” We’d love to hear from someone who has time and experience to research this for us as we’re a bit preoccupied with more pressing issues right now.

One of the most notable beyond-the-pale moments was when Vance claimed that possession of these so-called illegal knives should be become a “DNA eligible” offense. That would involve taking a DNA swabbing from anyone arrested for possession so that they could be identified if their DNA is recovered at a crime scene.

“All this for a simple misdemeanor charge, which itself is being so blatantly abused?” asked Ritter. “Vance’s absurd suggestion for making possession a DNA eligible offence only shows the depths of civil rights abuse that this DA is willing to encourage in order to pander to his supporters and discourage legal possession and use of these legitimate tools by law-abiding citizens.”

  • You can view a video report on the Press Conference here:–busts-illegal-knives-ring
  • You can view the DA’s propaganda video in full here:
  • You can read the full press release from the DA here:

This is hardly the entire scope of Vance’s lies, misrepresentations and half-truths, but time is limited and we have a good deal on our plate as we work on efforts to thwart the DA in the courts.

Knife Rights will continue to work at exposing the fallacies of Vance’s politically motivated claims and agenda. In the meantime, please spread this as far and wide as you can. Knife Rights is monitoring this situation in New York City vigilantly and will follow-up with more details as we can release them.

Knife Rights may be contacted at: [email protected] or toll-free: 1-866-889-6268

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