New York WARNING Are Assisted-Openers Now Illegal Switchblades?

New York WARNING Are Assisted-Openers Now Illegal Switchblades?
New York WARNING Are Assisted-Openers Now Illegal Switchblades?

U.S.A.-( As if New York wasn't already a confusing legal and regulatory nightmare for honest, law-abiding knife owners, the highest court in the state just upheld, in a one-paragraph opinion, the conviction of a person in possession of an assisted opening (spring-assisted) folding knife under the theory that it was an illegal switchblade knife under New York law.

The decision was overwhelming, 6 to 1, but it's worth noting the excellent dissent by Judge Jenny Rivera which is detailed, analytical, logical and very well-reasoned.

People v Berrezueta

Assisted opening folding knives are widely and routinely carried by millions of law abiding individuals, and given the momentous nature of this decision, certainly affecting hundreds of thousands of pocket knife owners in New York State, a review of the briefs suggests that the seriousness of the issues at stake was not presented to the court. The prosecution fundamentally mischaracterized the nature of the knife as being a switchblade. The significant and fundamental differences between a switchblade and the assisted-opening folder the defendant was carrying were not before the Court.

In addition to completely redefining what a knife's handle is, essentially eliminating the difference between the handle and the blade, the Court disregarded the fundamental difference in how the two types of knives operate – switchblades being automatic (an essential element of the definition) while assisted-openers are not.

Given that this confusion goes against clear historical precedent and that nobody in the real world is likely to interpret that statute in that manner, it creates a trap for all knife owners who would rationally never consider an assisted-opening folder to be a switchblade, especially if they were intimately familiar with plain wording of New York's switchblade statue.

265.00 Weapons Crimes – Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons Definitions

4. “Switchblade Knife” means any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife. (emphasis ours)

Regardless of whether we win our current civil rights case against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. over their unconstitutionally vague gravity knife prosecutions of those carrying common folding knives, the hundreds of thousands of knife owners who possess an assisted-opening folding knife anywhere in New York state could now be liable to being prosecuted for simply possessing a per se (inherently) illegal switchblade under §265.01, which is a serious crime, a fourth degree misdemeanor with a potential penalty of a year in jail. And, as we have seen far too often in our Federal gravity knife case, anyone who has had a prior conviction, even decades ago, is likely to have the charge against them upgraded to a felony with potentially years of jail time and loss of civil rights.

Actually carrying an assisted-opener will certainly raise the likelihood of arrest and prosecution.

At this juncture we must warn anyone living in New York State, or who visits or travels through New York State, that you risk arrest and jail if you carry an assisted-opening folding knife. Retailers within New York State may want to consider their potential criminal liability in continuing to sell assisted-opening knives.

We'll certainly be looking to find a solution to this problematic decision, but for now, discretion is the better part of valor with regards to assisted-opening folders in New York State.

And, just to be clear, this assisted-opener issue that covers the entire state of New York is entirely separate from New York City's gravity knife arrests and prosecutions; as well as New York City's administrative code prohibiting open carry of a knife (including being clipped to a pocket or “printing”) and its under 4-inch blade length limit. Details at:

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  • 32 thoughts on “New York WARNING Are Assisted-Openers Now Illegal Switchblades?

    1. I sometimes carry a pocket knife, sometimes meaning seldom. In any case this latest travesty at law once again tells me that my 1967 departure from NYC was one of my better decisions.

    2. Gregory Romeu:

      As you noted, the people are ultimately responsible, to perhaps be complimented, or sad to note, to often to be criticized for the unwarranted largess/descretion they provide to their elected things.

    3. The knife in question DOES NOT meet the definition codified in the law. Therefore, the ruling is invalid. Disregard it.

    4. Until citizens decide to rise up en masse and start applying a hemp necktie to NYS judges and politicians, nothing will improve.

      Sometimes, violence IS the answer.

    5. The Peoples Republic of New York like its socialist sister state Commiefornia will not be happy until you have nothing left to defend yourself from the scumbags,comrades.

    6. It’s New York….You should be arrested for just living there! That is unless you’re illegal.

    7. The largest problem with New York is idiots with badges the have not clue to check a law first. The don’t want to admit when there wrong and the DA rather prosecute be get a tally. The state makes money if they find in court. The system is so out of control. If you can’t afford a lawyer the PA does what the DA says. They threaten you we large penalties and Plead the case so your still destroyed publicly and paying.

      1. @Hervey, However will you have a multi-million dollar cause of action, if you don’t get arrested by “idiots with badges”?

    8. Thats only in nyc!
      And get your facts straight switchblades are NOT illegal in NY state IF you hold a hunting or fishing license!

      1. That’s correct but you can only carry it when you are hunting or fishing and no other time.

    9. The arresting officer must have been a jerk to charge this person to begin with and the prosecutor could have said it wasn’t a switch blade, no button, But he didn’t.
      Sounds like New York is a place to NOT visit, full of idiots.

    10. I see many patients with the use of only one arm. There is no provision in NY law for these people. I know of one person whose car flipped over and injured his right arm. Fortunately he had an “assisted” opener to cut his seat belt before the car ignited. The good cop did not ask how he got out. To comply with NY law he should have “assisted” roasting himself upside down, otherwise he would have been arrested.
      Are automatic” box cutters unlawful too?

    11. New York needs to enact London’s knife law. No knives with points. So the next time you need to dig a bullet out of your body after being shot in the Communist Peoples Republic of New York you can dig it out with your teeth.

      1. EVERY governing head or Dem/lib storm trooper in NY is an IDIOT ! NY, Cal, Ill, NJ are ALL governed and policed by oath lying (must’ve had their fingers crossed) IDIOTS ! They are anti AMERICAN and go against every oath they have promised to uphold. This may piss some good people off, and fore that I am sorry, but the laws and facts are out there…



      2. I too am retired LEO and agree totally with JIm. This is not, under any legal basis, a switchblade knife. Only a liberal mind could even figure a way to make it appear to be a mechanical knife. If anyone has any doubts in their mind about where gun control is headed just look at this case. It is the Democrats design to have total control of their citizens (aka “subjects”). They must have forgotten what the revolution in 1776 was about.

        1. @Chiefton – Liberals figure a way to call it a switchblade in the same manner they figure a way to call an AR-15 an assault rifle. Facts don’t matter only their agenda!

    12. If EVERY gun owner in NYS would vote Republican we would get rid of our Gaulieter Andrew Cuomo.

      1. “The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and the name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it; an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed … An unconstitutional law is void.” (16 Am. Jur. 2d, Sec. 178)

        In layman’s terms: Use your Grand Jury and the Powers granted you by your State Constitution and indict the scum for WILLFUL NEGLECT OF STATUTORY DUTY$

    13. I thought all you 3%ers were going to fix this!?! Everything is illegal up there unless you are one of the privileged or their guardians.

      1. @Matt, I forget which philosopher said, “Government is the rich protecting themselves from the poor.” Although, I have always thought that presumes a lot.

    14. I’ve said it once and will say it again— MOVE OUT Of NEW YORK!!! I did and so happy that move to Florida
      Saved me tons in state and property taxes. Not to mention my NORMAL capacity mags are happy.

      1. I escaped from LI NY in 1991 and never looked back. NC is my home, suppressor, AR, AK, RTKBA.

    15. Since the NY police have arrested people for carrying a pocket knife with the blade broken off, it is sort of moot point now. They will arrest you for merely carrying a knife handle.

    16. Where does the opinion state this was an assisted opening knife, rather than a knife with a simple thumb stud on the blade? The the “spring” merely a liner lock? I’d love to know what model this was.

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