New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s knife bill veto at the end of 2016 targets minorities and others who carry pocketknives.
According to Knife Rights, Cuomo vetoed the Gravity Knife and Switchblade Reform Bill, or S. 6483-A. If he had approved it, the bill would have excluded the vast majority of pocketknives, linerlock and framelock folders, flipper folders, assisted openers and other one-hand-opening folding knives from being designated as gravity knives or automatics (aka switchblades) under existing law. As a result of Cuomo’s knife bill veto, those who carry pocketknives, flipper folders, linerlocks and framelocks, and other one-hand-opening folders in New York remain subject to violating the state’s ban on automatics and gravity knives.
Since many minorities in New York City and others throughout the state carry pocketknives and folders and are the ones most likely to be targeted by the law that stays in place as a result of Cuomo’s knife bill veto, they remain subject to a fine and jail time if arrested for carrying said knives. As BLADE® field editor Ed Fowler notes in his story in the upcoming issue of the April BLADE, on newsstands Jan. 24, “The ultimate display of bureaucratic stupidity are the thousands of knife laws that serve no purpose other than to turn law-abiding citizens, usually minorities, into criminals in the name of public safety.”
According to the Knife Rights news release, Knife Rights will return when the New York legislature convenes this year to the job of fixing “the state’s Gravity Knife law to prevent these arrests and prosecutions. This bill passed with such large majorities in both houses of the legislature that an override of a veto is theoretically possible.”
As Knife Rights noted, Cuomo effectively thumbed his nose at a New York legislature that had overwhelmingly passed S. 6483-A, as well as at other New Yorkers, many of whom include his own constituents, who had supported the bill. In so doing, he joined the “Nexus of No” that includes New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in being virtually the only ones who oppose S. 6483-A.
The defeated bill would have added wording excluding knives with “a spring, detent or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist or arm to overcome the bias toward closure and open the knife” from the existing bill’s definition of switchblade. In other words, knives such as pocketknives, linerlocks and framelocks, assisted openers and others could not be defined as switchblades in New York if Cuomo had not vetoed S. 6483-A. Similar wording would have excluded pocketknives, etc., from the definition of gravity knife as well.