The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously ruled today that Knife Rights‘ Federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. will proceed, reversing a District Court’s erroneous dismissal of the case on procedural “standing” grounds. The decision can be viewed here.
The Second Circuit ruled that Knife Rights’ plaintiffs John Copeland, Pedro Perez, and Native Leather have the right to pursue their claims to end the unconstitutional manner in which the City and the DA have enforced state gravity knife law against honest individuals and businesses with regard to common folding knives.
The reversed lower court previously found that the claims were not specific enough to proceed because they did not identify specific makes and models of folding knives at issue — even though the very inability to determine which knives would be arbitrarily deemed “illegal” is the basis of the lawsuit itself! The Second Circuit agreed that specific knives need not be identified for the case to proceed.
Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “we are very pleased that we have overcome the absurd ruling of the lower court on ‘standing’ and can now proceed with the heart of the case itself — the unconstitutional manner in which the City and DA enforce the New York State’s gravity knife law to potentially demonize all folding knives.”
There have been over 60,000 “gravity knife” prosecutions in the City in the past 10 years, with the rate doubling recently. These prosecutions have focused almost exclusively on common locking-blade pocket knives, not actual historical paratrooper gravity knives which were the basis for the statute back in the 1950s. The so-called “wrist flick” test employed by the City and DA is a completely subjective test with immense variability and no knife owner can know can know with certainty whether or not his or her knife is legal at any point in time. This enforcement is unconstitutionally vague and must not continue.