NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The ban on gravity knives in New York has been lifted, and while it’s good news for many workers and artisans, it’s creating a new problem for some law enforcement officers.
The folding knives have a blade that opens up using the flick of the wrist, and they’re commonly used by construction workers, day laborers and artisans.
The knives are widely sold, but up until now, they were illegal to carry in New York.
WEB EXTRA – Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD discuss the lifted ban on gravity knives and more:
“If you could buy them anywhere, why not?” Rafael Morales said.
Morales runs Metropolitan Hardware on 11th Avenue in Manhattan.
“A lot of people buy them for work. They use them every day. You know, minor jobs around the house. I don’t see what’s wrong with them,” he told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
But the New York Police Department calls them “rapidly deployable combat knives.”
It opposed the lift on the ban, with officials saying there have been 1,600 slashings and stabbings in New York so far this year.
At Tuesday’s New York Police Department press conference on crime statistics, however, officials were unable to say specifically if gravity knives were used in any of those slashings.
The bill signed Thursday removes references of “gravity knives” as a dangerous weapon.
This was the third time the Legislature sought to remove criminal sanctions associated with possessing the knives.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed similar bills twice, but this time, he signed, saying “the legal landscape has changed.”
In March, a federal court ruling found the previous ban to be unconstitutional, reasoning that the existing law could result in “discriminatory enforcement” and was vague.
The Legal Aid Society issued a report on caseload data for gravity knife arrests and prosecutions between January and June of 2018.
It says New Yorkers of color are targeted. There were 885 gravity knife arrests arraigned by Legal Aid in the first six months of 2018 and 88% of people arrested for gravity knife possession are people of color.
The NYPD commissioner says it’s still illegal to have a gravity knife in the subway.