What is a Gravity knife? A Legal Analysis & Laws

A gravity knife is a type of knife that has a blade concealed in the handle and opens through the force of gravity or centrifugal force. The knife basically has a button, trigger, or fulcrum that opens the blade from the handle. However, the definition of the gravity knife can vary from state to state. For instance, some states consider a gravity knife that opens through gravity, and some consider a knife that opens the blade through centrifugal force. As per the Penal Law Section 265.00(5), “a gravity knife is – any knife which has a blade which released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other device.” The gravity knives have a long history since they have been in use for centuries. But the early use of gravity knives was first noticed in the early 18th century. Those knives were created for German paratroopers during World War II. Those knives were designed in a manner so that paratroopers could use those with one hand and could easily cut the cords of the parachute when landed or entangled. Additionally, those knives were very useful during the war for opening ration cans or cutting various things. When World War II ended, the American soldiers brought those gravity knives as souvenirs and started using them. Later on, those knives reached the hands of civilians and became very popular due to their design and efficiency. And when the US government noticed the involvement of those knives in various crimes, they prohibited those knives. In the US, many states and the federal government have laws that prohibit of carry, possession, sale, or transport of gravity knives. On the other hand, some states only regulate those knives with strict laws. Let’s take a brief look at the legality of the gravity knife.

Contents

Federal Law on Gravity Knives

The US federal law doesn’t prohibit gravity knives. According to US federal laws, just because a knife opens through the force of gravity doesn’t mean it’s dangerous and should be prohibited. But they may still have many restrictions and regulations in the United States.

US Federal Law 18 U.S.C. § 1716

As I said, the gravity knife is not prohibited by US federal law. But the knife has many regulations. For instance, the US Federal Law 18 U.S.C. § 1716 states that mailing automatic knives is prohibited in the United States. Thus, knives that open automatically when applying pressure on any button, spring, lever, or device on the handle are considered automatic. Switchblades and gravity knives fall under that definition, and that’s why those knives are nonbailable.

Interpretation and Application of the US Federal Law 18 U.S.C. § 1716

Gravity knives fall under the definition of automatic knives, and as per the US Federal Law 18 U.S.C. § 1716 – all automatic knives, including gravity knives and switchblades, are prohibited from mailing in the United States. But this law doesn’t apply to those who are in the armed forces, procurement officers, National Guard, Air National Guard, and civilians who require the knife for federal and legal activities.

Recent Court Cases Involving Federal Law and Gravity Knives

Since the 1950s, gravity knives have been banned in New York and other states by US Federal law. But on 30th May 2019, Governor Cuomo signed a law bill that removed all the criminal sanctions from the gravity knives, and it’s legal by federal law to possess a gravity knife, but state law may vary.

State Laws on Gravity Knives

Federal laws in the United States don’t prohibit the possession of gravity knives. But the state laws may vary. Some states prohibit gravity knives, and some are lenient about it. For instance, states, where gravity knives are prohibited, are:
  1. California.
  2. Delaware.
  3. Hawaii.
  4. Michigan.
  5. New Jersey.
  6. Rhode Island.

Definition of Gravity Knife in Different States

The definition of gravity knives varies state-to-state, which are:
  • New York: New York defines a gravity knife as any knife that has a blade released from the handle or sheath by force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force, which, when released, can be locked in place.
  • California: California defines a gravity knife as a knife with a blade contained in the handle that opens its blade through the force of gravity.
  • Delaware: A gravity knife is any device that has a blade that can be released from its handle by centrifugal force or gravity alone.
  • Hawaii: a gravity knife is a knife that has a blade that opens from the handle by the force of gravity or inertia.
  • Illinois: A knife with a blade that opens from the handle by the force of gravity, inertia, or both.
  • Massachusetts: A knife with a blade that is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other mechanisms.
  • Michigan: The gravity knife is defined as a knife with a blade that is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other mechanism.
  • New Jersey: New Jersey defines a gravity knife as a knife with a blade that is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force, which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other mechanisms.
  • Rhode Island: A knife with a blade that is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other mechanisms.

Controversies Surrounding Gravity Knives

Gravity knives have had many controversies over the years, and it’s still in the talk by some states. Some major controversies are:
  • Legal Definition: Different states of the US have different definitions of a gravity knife, which creates confusion.
  • Enforcement and Prosecution: Many argue that law enforcement agencies and prosecutions apply the knife laws inconsistently, and innocents have to suffer.
  • Ambiguous Design: The design of the gravity knife may be hard to categorize. And a wrist flick design doesn’t make a knife dangerous.
  • Impact on Everyday Carry: The broad definition of gravity knives makes it hard for individuals to carry regular folding knives, and individuals have to suffer for that.
  • Criminal Activities: Gravity knives are found to be associated with many crimes and illegal activities. Thus, those are illegalized.
  • Legislative Reforms: Gravity knives are various controversial for many years. And those knives require legislative reforms for the betterment of civilians.

Arguments for and Against Legalizing the Gravity Knives

Legalizing gravity knives has been a controversial topic for many years, and knife enthusiasts and law enforcement agencies present these arguments: Arguments for Legalizing Gravity Knives
  • Practicality: Legalizing gravity knives will allow individuals to use them for various legal activities, such as outdoor use, hunting, fishing, etc.
  • Individual Rights and Freedom: With the legalization of gravity knives, individuals will be able to carry and use gravity knives for necessary activities.
  • Clarity: Making the gravity knife legal with proper and clean regulations will remove confusion among people about knife possession.
  • Economic Impact: The legalization of the gravity knife can be a positive sign for the economy. People will buy them legally, and the economy will be benefited from it.
Arguments against Legalizing Gravity Knives
  • Public Safety: Since gravity knives can easily be concealed and opened, they can be used to harm others.
  • Criminal Association: Throughout history, gravity knives have been associated with many crimes and illegal activities.
  • Alternative Options: There are already many types of legal knives that can be used for necessary tasks. And legalizing the gravity knife can open the door to legalizing other dangerous knives as well.

Best Practices for Possessing and Using Gravity Knives

If you are willing to possess or carry a gravity knife, you need to abide by all the rules and regulations within the state where you are living or looking forward to visiting.

Tips for Owing and Carrying a Gravity Knife

  • Check if your state or the state where you are visiting bans the gravity knife.
  • If the gravity knife is not banned, make sure to check all the regulations for possessing and carrying the gravity knife.
  • Some states allow concealed and open carry. Some don’t make sure to put those things into consideration.
  • Every state has some areas where gravity and other knives are strictly prohibited from carrying; never carry a gravity knife in those places, such as school grounds, government buildings, voting areas, etc.
  • Every state has a size regulation for legal carry and owning a knife. Never carry a gravity knife that exceeds the size limit permitted by the state.
  • If you are a minor, don’t think about carrying a gravity knife or other knives.
  • Some states only allow firearm license holders to carry gravity knives. If you are visiting that state, you will need a license or permission.

Consequences of Violating Gravity Knife Laws

Violating the gravity knife laws lead an individual to consequences that can vary state-to-state. Generally, violation of a gravity knife can lead someone to these consequences:
  • Prohibited Carry or Possession: In states where gravity knives are prohibited, carrying or possessing gravity knives on there can lead you to criminal charges.
  • Unlawful Intent: If you are found with a gravity knife with unlawful intent, you have to bear additional charges with enhanced penalties.
  • Misdemeanor Offenses: Some states consider possessing and carrying a gravity knife as a misdemeanor offense. And it is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, community service, or both.
  • Felony Offense: Possessing and carrying a gravity knife can sometimes lead you to a felony offense if there are several aggressive factors involved. Thus, it could lead you to more severe penalties and serious charges.
  • Prior conviction: If you are already a felon who has charges for possessing knives and other dangerous weapons, then possessing a gravity knife with a prior conviction can enhance your penalties.

FAQs

What is a gravity knife?

A gravity knife is a type of knife with a blade concealed on the handle that can open by the force of gravity or centrifugal force.

How does a gravity knife differ from other types of knives?

The gravity knife differs from other types of knives in terms of the open mechanism – where the blade opens by the force of gravity or centrifugal force.

What are some common uses for a gravity knife?

Some of the common uses of gravity knives are:
  1. Preparing food.
  2. Cutting vegetables.
  3. Cutting ropes or cords.

Are gravity knives legal in the United States?

Some states of the United States prohibit the gravity knives, such as California, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The rest of the states allow the possession and use of gravity knives with strict regulations.

What is the federal law regarding gravity knives?

The United States federal law doesn’t prohibit gravity knives. But the federal law only prohibits the mailing of gravity knives.

Are there any states where gravity knives are legal?

Yes, some of the states in the United States have legalized the possession and carrying of gravity knives. Those states are Massachusetts, Illinois, and New York.

What are the penalties for possessing a gravity knife in states where they are illegal?

The penalty for possessing a gravity knife where the knife is prohibited is a serious offense and is considered a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. The fine and prison time can vary from state to state and depending on the offense.

How do you know if a knife is a gravity knife?

If the knife has a blade that can be concealed within the handle and which can open by the force of gravity, inertia, or centrifugal force – that can be identified as a gravity knife.

Can a knife be converted into a gravity knife?

Yes. It is possible to convert a knife into a gravity knife. Only a few modifications and adding a specific mechanism are required.

Can you bring a gravity knife on an airplane?

No, you can’t bring a gravity knife on an airplane. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), it’s prohibited to bring gravity knives on an airplane.

Can you carry a gravity knife for self-defense purposes?

You can carry a gravity knife for self-defense if the knife is legal in your state. And your intent should be legal, and the knife should be only used for self-defense and not harm others.

What should you do if you are stopped by law enforcement while carrying a gravity knife?

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer while carrying a gravity knife in a state where the knife is legal to carry, and you have obeyed all regulations, you are good to go. If that’s not the case, you will have to suffer the legal consequences.

How can you safely use a gravity knife?

By following all the laws and regulations regarding the gravity knife in your state, you can safely use a gravity knife.

Can you customize or modify a gravity knife?

Yes, you can customize or modify a gravity knife.

How do you sharpen a gravity knife?

Sharpening a gravity knife is similar to other knives. Just get all the necessary materials and sharpen your knife. But my recommendation would be to use an electric knife sharpener.

What are some alternatives to gravity knives?

Some alternatives to gravity knives are:
  1. Folding pocket knives.
  2. Assisted opening knives.
  3. Multi-tool.
  4. Manual flipper knives.
  5. Fixed blade knives.

Are there any organizations advocating for the legalization of gravity knives?

Yes, there are a few organizations that are advocating for the legalization of gravity knives. One such popular organization is the Knife Rights Foundation.

What are some common misconceptions about gravity knives?

Some of the most common misconceptions about gravity knives are:
  • Gravity knives are automatic knives.
  • All folding knives are gravity knives.
  • Gravity knives are illegal everywhere.
  • Gravity knives are mainly used as weapons.
  • Gravity knives are easy to conceal.

Are Gravity Knives Legal in Ohio?

Ohio knife laws: essential information states that gravity knives are illegal in Ohio. Possessing, manufacturing, selling, or transporting gravity knives within the state is prohibited. It is crucial to understand these laws to avoid any potential legal consequences. If you reside in Ohio or plan to visit, make sure to be aware of the restrictions regarding gravity knives to stay on the right side of the law.

Conclusion

The gravity knife is a unique knife with a blade that opens by gravity or centrifugal force. This knife has a long history and was created for paratroopers during World War II, but over the years, the knife has gained the popularity of civilians. But due to its quick open mechanism and involvement in crimes, the knife is prohibited in many states. But many states in the US have legalized the gravity knife since it can’t be considered a dangerous weapon. And I also think that gravity knives should be legalized with regulations so that regular people can use them.

References:

Leave a Comment