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#293866 - 10/16/19 05:12 PM NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens
albusgrammaticus Offline

Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 66
Loc: Italy
I'm planning to visit New York City next winter and I read about the draconian knife laws applied there.

I'm aware that the main issue is about the opening system, and that any knife which can be even remotely deployed with the infamous "wrist's flick" is a big no no and can get you arrested.

But I have an additional issue, I'm Italian and I'll be visiting the US under the "Visa Waiver Program" that the American government kindly extends to citizens of "friendly" countries.

I read in a couple of sources online that non-US citizens need to be extra careful in NYC and should avoid carrying any blade whatsoever on their person.

So, in your opinion, I'll be safe in carrying only a really small SAK (my trusty EDC, the Walker, 84 mm in length while closed, non locking blade 50mm long) or should I leave it at home?
I'd hate to have to cancel my return flight or facing exorbitant legal expenses just for being caught with a tiny pocket knife.

Another issue is the possible presence of airport style security checks at major tourist attractions in the city. Will I have to surrender my small knife every time I enter places like the MOMA, the Empire States Building or the Statue of Liberty?

Thank you very much to everyone able to be of assistance.

#293867 - 10/16/19 05:37 PM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: albusgrammaticus]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3367
Loc: USA
In terms of what NYPD will act upon, you want your knife to be less than four inches in length, and carried completely concealed (no belt clip, no belt holster). A slipjoint (like your SAK) cannot be considered a "gravity knife" under the "wrist flick" "test".

I doubt that NYPD would get on your case, even as a non-US citizen, about a SAK kept in your pocket if you didn't try to get it past any magnetometer-type security.

The Empire State Building and The 9/11 Memorial have magnetometers. I'm almost 100% sure that The Statue of Liberty does as well. Last time I was in NYC neither the Museum of Natural History nor MOMA had magnetometers, but they do have staff who may choose to "randomly" wand you.

Last time I was in NYC I decided to pocket-carry a very small Spyderco non-locking "Slipit". It was inexpensive enough that I wouldn't have minded losing it very much, while still being very sharp and useful. It wasn't noticed.

#293869 - 10/16/19 11:11 PM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: albusgrammaticus]
Doug_Ritter Offline


Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 2042
As noted, some of the places you plan to visit will have metal detectors. You can call ahead to check if they have metal detectors.

The state's gravity knife ban was repealed this past Summer, and thus the wrist flick test that was used by NYC to abuse folks carrying common locking blade pocket knives has gone away, a slip joint knife like a SAK wouldn't have been an issue in any case.

Always keep your knife fully concealed in your pocket, which again, is what you'd do anyway with a small SAK which doesn't have a pocket clip.
Doug Ritter
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

#293872 - 10/17/19 03:03 AM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: albusgrammaticus]
haertig Offline

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2167
Loc: Colorado
What is that saying that some police have? "You can maybe avoid the rap, but you can't avoid the ride." In other words, you may not be guilty of anything in the end, but they're going to make you miserable up until that point.

You are planning to visit a US city where politicians have little common sense, and they have enacted some really draconian laws. I would apply your own common sense instead, and just leave the knife at home. It's an embarrassment to some of us that we have a few cities like this in the US, but unfortunately, we do. There are many fun things to do in NYC (trying to understand the politicians/government is not one of them). Have a great trip!

#293874 - 10/17/19 06:40 AM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: albusgrammaticus]
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2689
Loc: Big Sky Country
Haertig may be right- discretion might be the better part of valor. No point in poking the bear. Still, Doug has spent many years dealing with the issues and knows NY rules better than I!
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#293889 - 10/19/19 01:02 PM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: Phaedrus]
albusgrammaticus Offline

Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 66
Loc: Italy
Thank you very much to all those who chimed in.

On one hand, I'm relived by Chaosmagnet's and Mr Ritter's (a true authority on the subject!) assurances that I won't have problems on the streets with a simple penknife in my pocket.

On the other hand, I think it would be a real nuisance to plan beforehand whether or not I should carry the knife with me according to the presence of absence of security checks in the places I plan to visit for the rest of the day.

In this respect, I'm inclined to follow the advice of Haertig and Phaedrus and just be on the safe side.

Unfortunately, we live in a society (and I count my home country in the fold as well) where laws and regulations can have so many different interpretations and applications, every one of which can result in very different outcomes to those caught on the wrong side of the authorities.

It's very sad, but on certain occasions you may be inclined the refrain to do something, even if it is totally in your right to do so, just to avoid the stress and potential harassment that may ensue...

#293951 - 10/26/19 11:31 PM Re: NYC Knife laws and risks for non-US citizens [Re: albusgrammaticus]
CJK Offline

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 583
Loc: FL, USA
We visited NYC last year. First time back in 22 years. I'm former MOS (NYC EMS) and even with my shield around my neck I was wishing I left the knife home. I'm sure I could have 'escaped' any 'problems with the shield and credentials I carry but I just felt it was a bit of an inconvenience. A lot of places will not let you in and they don't 'store things' while you go inside. Started thinking about improvising.

We were doing the 'tourist' thing though as our youngest had never been there. So we were looking to go into the touristy type places. Just walking around....no problem in the pocket.

Next time I go I'll bring a cheap 1 dollar keychain knife so if it 'gets taken' I don't care and I'll buy another a few stores down. Just my 2c.


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