A gravity knife is a small knife that is easy to open, usually with just a flip of the wrist. Many workers use a gravity knife as part of their job every day, but some have been the victim of questionable laws used to arrest people for possession of the knife.
A gravity knife is a common knife used by many tradespeople, from carpenters and dock workers to stagehands. Unfortunately, common sense has not always prevailed when it comes to the laws that govern gravity knives.
However, a recent victory for knife owners in New York will make gravity knives legal again and spare citizens from unjustified arrest.
Gravity Knife Ban Lifted
A New York ban that led to law-abiding citizens getting arrested simply for possession of a gravity knife has been repealed. The 1958 law had been passed by lawmakers at that time to get rid of what they felt were dangerous weapons. The list included brass knuckles, “Kung Fu stars” and switchblades.
Gravity knives had been thrown into this list. That resulted in about 70,000 people being arrested in New York between 2000 and 2012. In almost every case, those arrested were working people who carried the knife as part of their job.
Earlier this year, a U.S. District judge considered a lawsuit by a sous chef who was arrested for carrying a gravity knife, according to Reason magazine. The court ruled that the ban on the knife “afforded police and prosecutors almost unlimited discretion to arrest and prosecute people for carrying knives commonly sold in stores across the state.”
State lawmakers later voted to repeal the ban. However, the knife is still illegal on the subway system.
The Legality of Gravity Knives
Part of the issue with the legality of gravity knives has been the definition of the knife, which can vary from state to state. However, in the majority of states, a gravity knife is legal. In other states – such as New York until the change this year – lawmakers had put gravity knives in the same category as a switchblade, which opens into a locked position with the push of a button.
Gravity knives are designed to open with gravity or a flick of the wrist so that they can be opened one-handed while the other hand is occupied. That’s why the knife is so popular as a tool for tradespeople.
Again, commonsense has not always prevailed when it comes to laws governing these knives. Some countries outlaw gravity knives, including the United Kingdom and Canada.
Other states are considering laws to lift the ban on gravity knives, including Ohio. Other states are considering legislation that includes lifting bans on some type of “automatic knives,” which in some states can include gravity knives.