In the last 10 years, 60,000 people in New York have landed in jail due to a ‘50s-era law banning “gravity knives,” the vague definition of which allows police and courts to prosecute people for carrying virtually anything sharp. 86 percent of those jailed were black or latino. And now you can help repeal it.
New York Penal Law 265.01 defines a gravity knife as any that open with, “the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force,” and also those which include any sort of locking mechanism, including, “[a] button, spring, lever, or other device.”
As we’ve identified several times, a locking knife is a safer knife as it cannot fold back onto the user’s hand. These blades are used by workers, those who simply want to be prepared for the twists and turns of daily life or even readers of the New York Times style section, which proclaims them as fashionable.
Additionally, the legal definition of centrifugal force has proved vague and that vaguery leads to a miss-application of the law by police.
“With enough force, and enough practice, virtually any pocketknife can be flicked open like a ‘gravity knife,’ whether it was designed to operate that way or not,” Jon Campbell famously wrote in the Village Voice last year. His piece, “How A ‘50s-Era New York Knife Law Has landed Thousands In Jail,” really blew the lid off how the unjust and inconsistent application of this law is being unjustly used to overwhelmingly target minorities.
Now, a bill that would require proof of “unlawful intent” in order to prosecute people for carrying sharp tools has been passed by the state assembly and is being reviewed by the senate. So, it’s your chance to help influence the outcome.
KnifeRights.org released this call to action:
With Knife Rights lobbyist Todd Rathner on the ground in Albany, we are still trying to figure out exactly where A.4821/S.3675 stands (the bill to “Fix” NY’s Gravity Knife Law & Stop Thousands of NYC Arrests). We were assured the bill had been “released” by Senator Nozzolio from the Codes Committee, but now we are hearing that it’s still in the committee. We are currently trying to find out the truth, but that is almost irrelevant given just hours remain in the session. WE NEED YOU TO CALL RIGHT NOW!
If you live, work or travel to New York please CALL Senator Nozzolio’s office and politely request that he “please stop playing politics with A.4821/S.3675 and send it to the Rules Committee so it can move to the floor for a vote. Pushing knife owners off for the second year in a row is not acceptable!”
Senator Nozzolio: 518-455-2366
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Senator can additionally be reached by Twitter: @SenatorNozzolio.
A hat tip to our friends at TheTruthAboutKnives, who are doing a great job of tracking live developments.
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