‘Gravity knife’ bill vetoed for second consecutive year

Courtesy of the Governor’s Office

Citing the concerns of police, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation on Monday that would have legalized knives with assisted opening.

The bill, similar to legislation passed by both houses in 2016, sought to clarify language under Penal Law which makes any knife opened “solely by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force,” illegal.

The contention is that some workers who use knives with an assisted opening mechanism for one-handed use are facing legal repercussions for simply possessing a common tool.

The legislation that passed this year, sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Quart, D- Manhattan and Senator Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, removed the portion of the law pertaining to centrifugal force, or assisted open knives in an effort to help clarify which knives are legal and are not.

According to the governor, the law fell short for the second year in a row.

“This year, the Legislature again sought to address the concerns raised by the current law’s ambiguity in treatment of ‘gravity knives,’ the governor wrote in his veto message.

“Unfortunately, while the bill did succeed in removing any ambiguity in the definition of ‘gravity knives’ by limiting the universe of knives to only those whose blade release solely by the force of gravity, it did so in a way that would legalize all folding knives.”

The bill passed the Assembly and Senate with only one legislator voting against it, but the legislation “grossly disregarded the concerns of law enforcement,” said Cuomo.

In the veto message the governor does state that a “three-way agreement” was attempted unsuccessfully which would have reduced the crime of possessing an illegal knife to a violation as well as providing exemptions for people who use them for work. The agreement would also have seen the NYPD trained to recognize workers who would be exempted from the law.

“Based on the continued concerns expressed by law enforcement. . . I am constrained to veto the bill.”