Bay Ridge

Golden sides with de Blasio in gravity knife debate

State senator urges Cuomo to veto bill

December 29, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After seven years of efforts by legislators and legal advocates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed a bill decriminalizing so-called “gravity knives” in New York. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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State Sen. Marty Golden, one of the leading Republican voices in the city, doesn’t usually agree with Democrat Bill de Blasio on issues, but Bay Ridge lawmaker is on the same side as the mayor when it comes to gravity knives.

Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) is joining a chorus of public officials, including de Blasio, in calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill approved by the state legislature that seeks to change the definition of a gravity knife to allow more people to carry them.

“I join with Mayor Bill de Blasio, the District Attorneys of New York, Bronx, Kings and Queens County, and the law enforcement community, in calling upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto this legislation. This year in New York City there has been a significant increase in knife assaults and if this legislation becomes law, it will only further amplify the danger of knives on our streets,” Golden said in a statement.

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The mayor had previously stated his opposition to the legislation.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst, Staten Island) and state Assemblymember Dan Quart (D-Upper East Side), seeks to clarify the definition of a gravity knife by exempting a folding knife with a so-called “bias toward closure.”

That would mean that a resident would be permitted to carry a common pocket knife, since most of those knives are equipped with “a bias toward closure,” meaning that there is a tension in the spring holding the blade in a closed position.

Proponents of the bill said under current state law, too many people are being arrested for possessing nothing more than a common pocket knife that they do not intend to use as a weapon.

But Golden charged that changing the law will put people’s lives at risk.

The NYPD’s new program, Operation Cutting Edge, which is designed to target knife attacks on city streets, will be severely challenged by the legislation, according to Golden.

For the safety of all New Yorkers and our police officers, I ask Gov. Cuomo to veto this legislation before him, and hope to work with him to properly address this in the new legislative session beginning in January,” Golden stated.

The Village Voice reported that the problem over gravity knives stems largely from a law New York state passed back in 1958 to outlaw large switchblade-type knives. The law’s language makes it possible for any knife that can be opened with the flick of the wrist to be considered a weapon, which has led to a large number of dubious arrests, according to the Village Voice.

“This law has been used for years to criminalize possession of folding knives and pocket knives that are used for work or passed down in a family,” Quart said in a statement. “It has not enhanced public safety. I’m proud to have worked with Sen. Savino to lead this fight for fair knife laws.”

As Cuomo considered his options, the Legal Aid Society released a statement calling on him to sign the bill into law.

“Too many hard-working New Yorkers have had their lives changed forever because of the NYPD’s discriminatory practice that treats simple folding knifes sold at well-known stores across this city as weapons once in the hands of black and brown people. We urge Gov. Cuomo to follow the legislature’s decisive June decision on this issue and answer the loud calls from New Yorkers of every background by signing this important legislation and scraping this archaic law from the books forever,” the statement read.

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