New York Knife Laws


It should be of no surprise to anyone that New York has some of the worst knife laws in the country.  Perhaps it’s due to the crime rate, but the laws in New York are very confusing and contradictory.  My suggestion to you is, if you’re unsure, ask a lawyer.  Don’t take my word or any other site’s word for it because the law is vague.  Nearly any definition within it can be construed for charges and convictions.

There are a ton of illegal knives (although some have exceptions), including switchblades, ballistic knives, metal knuckles, throwing stars (shuriken), cane swords, or any knife adapted for use primarily as a weapon.  That last one is insanely broad.  You also can’t own knives in New York if you aren’t a US citizen.

Check your local laws as well, as many cities enact their own ordinances against knives and their carrying more than the state itself does.  And remember, ask a lawyer about any laws you don’t understand, and be sure to check the ‘Relevant Statutes’ section of this page to read the laws for yourself.

What Kinds of Knives are Legal in New York?

Despite the unclear law and the habit of the state to rather broadly interpret its own laws, there are some knives that seem to be legal to own.  Remember to consult an attorney if you’re unsure.

  • You can own a dirk or dagger (be aware of the broad language, however)
  • You can own a hunting knife
  • You can own a stiletto
  • It would seem that legal knives can be carried however you wish
  • You can own a switchblade or gravity knife if you’re performing military duties, are a cop, or have a valid hunting or fishing license

Be aware that the laws can become far more restrictive depending on which city you’re in.  Definitely check your local laws on this one.

What Kinds of Knives are Illegal in New York?

New York is the opposite of most states in that there are a number of knives that are outright illegal to own, but there are no laws regarding concealed carry.  Obviously, different cities will have municipal laws that do restrict knives further, but the state itself has no laws on the matter.

  • Ballistic knives are illegal
  • Cane swords are illegal
  • Metal knuckles are illegal
  • Throwing stars (shuriken) are illegal
  • Any knife adapted primarily to be used as a weapon is illegal
  • Non-citizens cannot own knives
  • Switchblades and gravity knives (this includes assisted knives) are illegal to anyone who isn’t a cop, on military duty, or holds a valid hunting or fishing license
  • You cannot bring your knife to school

Be aware that New York doesn’t have bias towards closure policy and people have been charged for carrying knives in vehicles.  While it’s legal to own a dagger, dirk, or stiletto, be aware that if a cop wants to, he can presume that you mean to harm someone with them.

Self-defense may sound noble, but New York interprets that assertion to mean that you intend to harm someone.  After all, using a weapon in self-defense means your attacker might get hurt, and mundane citizens aren’t allowed to do that.

Relevant Statutes

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