View Full Version : Knife Rights Contests DA's Claims, Tactics in Knife Retailer Shakedown

06-20-2010, 7:41 PM
I consider knife issues 2nd amendment related, if you disagree feel free to move it :)

The New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney's office appears to be engaged in a shakedown of local businesses, forcing them to pay six-figure so-called "contributions" or risk unwarranted criminal penalties, in a move more like that of organized crime than the agency charged with protecting citizens, said a national group representing the rights of Americans who own and use pocket knives. Knife Rights Chairman, Doug Ritter, said, "the New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr. appears to have targeted legitimate, honest knife dealers, accused them of selling illegal 'gravity knives,' and threatening criminal prosecution if they don't pay up. The so-called "gravity knives" in question appear to be conventional one-handed and assisted-opening knives, which represent 80 percent of the pocket knives sold in the U.S. today." Some of the major retailers have reported agreed to six-figure settlements and have netted reportedly nearly two million dollars.

New York District Attorney Vance's dramatic press conference on Thursday was quite a show with a very impressive array of so-called gravity knives and switchblades displayed, but political grandstanding doesn't change the fact that the claims made by Vance had little basis in truth.

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, "the outrageous claims made by Vance to rationalize his shakedown of honest knife retailers during his press conference were all deliberate misrepresentations or half-truths, if not outright lies. If the general media in attendance wasn't so unfortunately uninformed of the issues and the law, as well as the technical aspects of folding knives, he might have had a more difficult time getting them to swallow the unmitigated fabrications he was dishing out."

Since the industry's numbers put the pocket knife-carrying population in the area of forty million, and 80% of the knives sold in America are one-handed openers of one design or another, for certain the majority of these millions understand just how absurd the DA's claims are when they see a display of the same knives they carry and use everyday deemed to be illegal. The increased practicality and safety of these commonly used tools over more traditional pocket knives accounts for their widespread popularity.

Said Ritter, "It's hard to imagine how Vance could be further out of touch with both the law and mainstream America."

Vance claimed in the press conference and on their propaganda video shown and distributed that arrests for knife possession were up to 3000 last year. That appears to be a quite an exaggeration as the DA's own press release put the figure at 2,269.

"In any case, the number is meaningless," said Ritter. "Whichever number is used, it simply represents the increased abuse of New York's law against gravity knives. In virtually every case where those accused have competent legal representation, the charges are dropped or dismissed. Unfortunately, not all plaintiffs get attorneys well-versed in the issue. That doesn't change the fact that overly broad application of New York's law is indefensible."

In the most egregious example of this outrageous abuse of the law at the press conference, on display were Husky folding utility knives. In the landmark knife law case of U.S. v Irizarry (2007), involving an essentially identical knife originally purchased from Home Depot and an arrest on a knife possession charge by a New York cop, these knives were specifically found to not be a gravity knife.

Senior Federal District Judge Jack Weinstein's findings are so commonsense and clear that it is difficult to imagine that even a DA couldn't help but to understand them.

In his ruling, Judge Weinstein wrote:

"The prevalence of this instrument and its everyday use by law abiding mechanics makes unreasonable any inference of illegal activity drawn merely from the observation of such an instrument clipped in an individual's pocket.

... The instrument which defendant had in his possession is a common tool. Its open possession is the equivalent of a carpenter carrying a hammer or an individual in the street carrying a cellular phone. The law cannot define as criminals tens of thousands of mechanics who are required to carry such tools in order to earn a living. Claw hammers, used by carpenters, can be used to smash skulls, screwdrivers, used by electricians, can be used to stab bodies and wall board cutters can be used to cut jugular veins, but those are not the intended or designed for uses of such instruments."

The entire commonsense judgment makes for interesting reading here: http://www.KnifeRights.org/USvIRIZARRY.pdf

The import of this decision is all the more significant when you consider Judge Weinstein's record of extreme adverse decisions on Second Amendment and weapons issues. "For an outspoken anti-gun, anti-weapon liberal like Judge Weinstein to issue such a ruling speaks to the heart of the matter," said Ritter.

Despite such clear precedent, the DA seized these knives and displayed these knives at the press conference as examples of gravity knives, which is a complete fabrication with no basis in fact. "Judge Weinstein's decision relating to the ubiquitous and generally useful nature of the tool," says Ritter, "equally applies to all of the widely available and commonly used pocket knives that were seized and displayed."

"Is Vance simply ignorant of such a precedent-setting case which is so specifically applicable to New York City, or is Vance simply ignoring the law to serve his own political agenda?" asked Ritter. "Either way, it doesn't cast the DA's actions in a very good light."

That Home Depot caved in to the DA's shakedown is itself difficult to understand given their own history with the Irizarri case. Clearly, the DA's abuse of power can be intimidating to even a major corporation which apparently either let business exigencies override principle, or perhaps were simply ill-served by their counsel. Knife Rights continues to try and make contact with senior management of Home Depot in an effort to understand their actions in this matter.

Vance also made much of the fact that 19 of the 59 homicides in Manhattan in 2009 were stabbings, yet somehow failed to mention how many of those were attributed to the very knives he wrongly claims are illegal gravity knives or switchblades.

It would be very surprising to discover that New York was so far different from the rest of the country where the vast majority of such crimes are committed with common kitchen knives. Where folding knives are used, they are often traditional, old-fashioned pocket knives designed for two-handed opening." We'd love to hear from someone who has time and experience to research this for us as we're a bit preoccupied with more pressing issues right now.

One of the most notable beyond-the-pale moments was when Vance claimed that possession of these so-called illegal knives should be become a "DNA eligible" offense. That would involve taking a DNA swabbing from anyone arrested for possession so that they could be identified if their DNA is recovered at a crime scene.

"All this for a simple misdemeanor charge, which itself is being so blatantly abused?" asked Ritter. "Vance's absurd suggestion for making possession a DNA eligible offence only shows the depths of civil rights abuse that this DA is willing to encourage in order to pander to his supporters and discourage legal possession and use of these legitimate tools by law-abiding citizens."

View a video report on the Press Conference: http://bit.ly/anKT1F

View the DA's propaganda video in full: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheManhattanDA

Read the full press release from the DA: http://www.manhattanda.org/whatsnew/press/2010-06-17.shtml

This is hardly the entire scope of Vance's lies, misrepresentations and half-truths, but time is limited and we have a good deal on our plate as we work on efforts to thwart the DA in the courts.

Knife Rights will continue to work at exposing the fallacies of Vance's politically motivated claims and agenda. In the meantime, please spread this as far and wide as you can. Knife Rights is monitoring this situation in New York City vigilantly and will follow-up with more details as we can release them.

Knife Rights may be contacted at: nycity@KnifeRights.org or toll-free: 1-866-889-6268

For all the fathers out there reading this, best wishes on your special day. As you reflect on the implications of this assault on our knives and freedom on this Fathers Day, please consider that Knife Rights is fighting to ensure that your sons and daughters will continue to enjoy the same or perhaps even more freedom than we do. Invest in a Sharper Future™. Please make a contribution to support the fight for your knife rights.

Join or Renew your Knife Rights membership today! http://bit.ly/2QEVMP
Make a Contribution to our fight against the DA's assault on our pocket knives: http://bit.ly/Scvp9

This kind of stuff terrifies me, and it reminded me of all the recent McDonald threads. Even with cut and dry case law going against everything the DA is doing, he just keeps it up. One way or another, we have to show WHO holds the power, and as long as guys like him can just keep breaking the law with no punishment, that won't happen. In my opinion, overstepping the law like that begets instant job loss, if not criminal prosecution.

Anyways, thoughts? :D

ed bernay
06-20-2010, 7:55 PM
I suspect he will be runnig for mayor after bloomberg leaves

06-20-2010, 9:41 PM
funny they disabled comments on that video. What a crock...

06-20-2010, 9:48 PM
This sounds like a protection racket. I hope that this can be turned around and bite the DA on the backside.

P.S.: Knives are arms, too. This does belong in the 2A forum, in my opinion.

06-20-2010, 9:50 PM
Kind of refreshing that Judge Weinstein came down on the side of common sense as relates to a "deadly weapon". He was long the federal judge of choice in New York for the gun grabbers, and got himself reversed by the Second Circuit for trying to ignore the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act proscriptions of suits against gun manufacturers.

06-20-2010, 9:56 PM
Can someone explain to me why automatic / switch blade knifes are any more dangerous than say a regular folder? I mean, I understand that anti-gun peopel will do anything to neuter a gun (pistol grips, magazine capacity, etc...) but who the heck is so hell bent on knives that they keep fighting this?

06-20-2010, 10:03 PM
Can someone explain to me why automatic / switch blade knifes are any more dangerous than say a regular folder?

They're more dangerous than regular folders in exactly the same way that 11-round magazines are more dangerous than 10-round magazines, guns with pistol grips are more dangerous than those without, etc.

In other words, they're not.

Disarmament isn't just about guns. It's about all weapons, and the mere idea of being self-sufficient. Gun control isn't about guns; it's about control. The same goes for knife control. It probably goes for a lot of other kinds of "X"-control. Any tool that helps people take care of themselves and resist attack is a threat to those who wish to make us their subjects, beholden to them for our very existence.

06-21-2010, 2:15 AM
A small folding knife saved an individual from an unprovoked attack-in NJ of all places.


06-21-2010, 8:10 PM
Can someone explain to me why automatic / switch blade knifes are any more dangerous than say a regular folder? I mean, I understand that anti-gun peopel will do anything to neuter a gun (pistol grips, magazine capacity, etc...) but who the heck is so hell bent on knives that they keep fighting this?

I might be very wrong about this, But I remember reading that some of the first anti switchblade laws came about after a popular classic movie showcased several of the "gangsters" as using switchblades. Now, this might just be internet rumor, but I wouldn't be shocked if it was true.

Even though it seems the vast majority of knife attacks seem to be with Kitchen knives, or oldschool Buck type folders, but they knew they couldn't ban those all off the bat, so they ban "gangster" weapons because Susie Housewife won't care.

Fast forward to today and in many places, carrying a pocket knife is actually taboo. Their plan has started to work, and they're just setting us up to turn into the next UK/Australia. I've had female friends look at me like I'm crazy for having a "HUGE" knife on me at a barbecue, which I used to cut my meat. (meanwhile, everyone was complaining they had nothing to cut their steak with, go figure) Oh, and it had just over 3" blade. Much shorter than most steak knives...

06-21-2010, 8:17 PM
Also, apparently this is all throughout NY state now. On bladeforums several people are reporting large online retailers not shipping any typical folding knife into NY state at all. This is turning out to be a pretty huge deal.