NY Knife Laws

This is a complete (?) list of all knife-related laws for New York State as they affect the common non-criminal citizen.
Not included are laws that apply to convicted criminals, police, military personnel, or those whose business involves selling or reparing weapons in any way.
Ellipsis ("...") are used to drop text which is not relevant to the subject of knives, with the intent that dropping the text does not change the meaning of the law as it relates to knives. The dropped text is occasionally very interesting as it pertains to other weapons.
NOTE: I am not a lawyer. The laws quoted are copied from NY State's Laws of New York web site, and are selected and edited as appropriate to the best of my ability around midnight on a Monday (I could be delusional) after many hours of study over several years. I highly recommend you read the law for yourself, and obtain professional legal advice on its interpretation.

 § 265.00 Definitions.
   As  used  in  this  article and in article four hundred, the following
 terms shall mean and include:
   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.
   5. "Gravity knife" means any knife which has a blade which is released
 from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the  appli-
 cation  of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by
 means of a button, spring, lever or other device.
   5-a. "Pilum ballistic knife" means any knife which has a  blade  which
 can  be  projected from the handle by hand pressure applied to a button,
 lever, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.
   5-b. "Metal knuckle knife" means a weapon that,  when  closed,  cannot
 function  as  a set of metal knuckles, nor as a knife and when open, can
 function as both a set of metal knuckles as well as a knife.
   6. "Dispose of" means to dispose of, give, give away, lease-loan, keep
 for sale, offer, offer for sale, sell, transfer  and  otherwise  dispose
   13. "Cane Sword" means a cane or swagger stick having concealed within
 it a blade that may be used as a sword or stilletto.
   15-b. "Kung Fu star" means a disc-like object with sharpened points on
 the circumference thereof and is designed for use primarily as a  weapon
 to be thrown.

 § 265.01 Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
   A  person  is  guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth
 degree when:
   (1) He possesses any ... gravity  knife,  switchblade  knife,  pilum
 ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, ... shirken or "Kung Fu star"; or
   (2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk,  razor,  stiletto,
 imitation  pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon
 with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or
Note:  using circular reasoning, subsequent law PL 265.15(4) dictates that simple possession constitutes presumptive evidence that the possessor intends to use the instrument unlawfully against another.
   (5)  He  possesses any dangerous or deadly weapon and is not a citizen
 of the United States; or
   Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth  degree  is  a  class  A

 § 265.05 Unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen.
   It  shall  be  unlawful  for  any  person  under the age of sixteen to
 possess ... any  dangerous knife ... .
   A person who violates the provisions of this section shall be adjudged
 a juvenile delinquent.

 * § 265.10 Manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons
            and dangerous instruments and appliances.
   1.  ... Any person who manufactures
 or causes to be manufactured any switchblade knife, gravity knife, pilum
 ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, ... Kung  Fu star, ... is
 guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
   2. ... Any person  who  transports  or
 ships  as merchandise any ... switch-blade knife, gravity knife, pilum
 ballistic  knife, ... Kung Fu star, ... is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
   4. Any person who disposes of  any  of  the  weapons,  instruments  or
 appliances  specified  in  subdivision  one  of section 265.01, except a
 firearm, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and he is guilty of a class
 D felony if he has previously been convicted of any crime.
   5. Any person who disposes of any of the weapons, instruments,  appli-
 ances  or  substances  specified  in  section 265.05 to any other person
 under the age of sixteen years is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

 § 265.15 Presumptions of possession, unlawful intent and defacement.
   2.  The  presence  in  any  stolen  vehicle of any weapon, instrument,
 appliance or substance specified in  sections  265.01,  265.02,  265.03,
 265.04  and  265.05  is  presumptive  evidence  of its possession by all
 persons occupying such vehicle at  the  time  such  weapon,  instrument,
 appliance or substance is found.
   3.  The  presence  in  an  automobile, other than a stolen one or a
 public omnibus,  of  any  ... gravity  knife,  switchblade  knife,  pilum
 ballistic knife,  metal  knuckle  knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, ... is
 presumptive evidence of its possession by all persons occupying such automobile
 at  the time such weapon, instrument or appliance is found, except under
 the following circumstances: (a) if such weapon, instrument or appliance
 is found upon the person of one of the occupants therein;  (b)  if  such
 weapon, instrument or appliance is found in an automobile which is being
 operated for hire by a duly licensed driver in the due, lawful and prop-
 er pursuit of his or her trade, then such presumption shall not apply to
 the  driver; ...
   4. ... The possession by  any  person  of  any  dagger,
 dirk,  stiletto, dangerous knife or any other weapon, instrument, appli-
 ance or substance designed, made or adapted for use primarily as a weap-
 on, is presumptive evidence of intent to use the same unlawfully against

 § 265.20 Exemptions.
   a.  Sections  265.01,  265.02, 265.03, 265.04, 265.05, 265.10, 265.11,
 265.12, 265.13, 265.15 and 270.05 shall not apply to:
   (f) A person voluntarily surrendering such weapon, instrument,  appli-
 ance  or  substance,  provided  that such surrender shall be made to the
 superintendent of the division of  state  police  or  a  member  thereof
 designated  by  such  superintendent, or to the sheriff of the county in
 which such person resides, or in the county of Nassau or in the towns of
 Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown in  the  county  of
 Suffolk  to the commissioner of police or a member of the police depart-
 ment thereof designated by such commissioner, or if such person  resides
 in a city, town other than one named in this subparagraph, or village to
 the police commissioner or head of the police force or department there-
 of  or to a member of the force or department designated by such commis-
 sioner or head; and provided, further, that the same  shall  be  surren-
 dered by such person in accordance with such terms and conditions as may
 be  established by such superintendent, sheriff, police force or depart-
 ment. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as granting  immunity
 from  prosecution  for  any  crime  or  offense  except that of unlawful
 possession  of  such  weapons,  instruments,  appliances  or  substances
 surrendered  as herein provided. A person who possesses any such weapon,
 instrument, appliance or substance as an executor  or  administrator  or
 any  other  lawful possessor of such property of a decedent may continue
 to possess such property for a period not over  fifteen  days.  If  such
 property  is  not  lawfully disposed of within such period the possessor
 shall deliver it to an appropriate official described in this  paragraph
 or such property may be delivered to the superintendent of state police.
 Such  officer shall hold it and shall thereafter deliver it on the writ-
 ten request of such executor, administrator or other lawful possessor of
 such property to a named person, provided such named person is  licensed
 to or is otherwise lawfully permitted to possess the same. If no request
 to deliver the property is received by such official within two years of
 the  delivery  of  such  property,  such official shall dispose of it in
 accordance with the provisions of section 400.05 of this chapter.
   6. Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting,
 trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license issued  to  him
 pursuant to section 11-0713 of the environmental conservation law.
Note: while it is legal to possess such knives under these conditions, there is no legal way to obtain them.

 § 265.25 Certain wounds to be reported.
   Every  case ... of a wound which is likely to or may result in death and is
 actually or apparently inflicted by a knife, icepick or other  sharp  or
 pointed  instrument, shall be reported at once to the police authorities
 of the city, town or village where the person reporting is  located  by:
 (a)  the  physician  attending or treating the case; or (b) the manager,
 superintendent or other person in charge, whenever such case is  treated
 in  a  hospital,  sanitarium  or other institution. Failure to make such
 report is a class A misdemeanor. ...

Related notes:

Matter of Jamie D., 59 NY2d 589 (1983). Whether a "knife" is a "dangerous" knife may be determined on the basis of three alternative considerations: one, its own characteristics which show that it is primarily intended for use as a weapon; second, a modification, which converts what would otherwise be a utensil into a weapon; and third, the circumstances of the possession which may reveal that the possessor considers it a weapon and not a utilitarian tool.
- Gun Control in New York: New York's Firearms and Weapons Laws, Lee O. Thomas and Jeffrey Chamberlain

There is no limit on knife length in New York State. (Regardless of what anyone has told you, there is simply no law addressing knife length.)

New York City has additional restrictions on knives, including a prohibition on any knife with a blade 4" or longer. For all practical purposes, weapons are completely forbidden in New York City, despite assurances of rights in NY Civil Rights law and the US Constitution.

Rochester declares: § 47-5(C) No person shall possess a ... dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor or stiletto in a public place or public facility in the City. ...

"Butterfly knives", aka "balisongs", may have been ruled to not be "gravity knives" in a court case. I do not have the case reference at this moment; I do recall reading it, and that it reversed another case ruling that they are "gravity knives"; I cannot guarantee that the favorable case was not in turn reversed. If you do carry a butterfly knife, use both hands to open it sans centrifigal force lest someone confuse it with a gravity knife and inflict law 265.01(1) upon you.

NY law is available on-line at http://LEGINFO.STATE.NY.US:82/INDEX1.html - go read it for yourself. Most of what people tell each other about laws are wrong or misguided.

Carl Donath 9/11/00