Knife Rights, a knife advocacy group that calls itself “America’s premier organization representing knife owners and promoting the safe and responsible use of edged tools,” has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit to stop New York City from “exploiting a vague state law to make questionable arrests of law-abiding citizens carrying common pocket knives, and intimidate retailers of those knives into making huge payments to avoid prosecution.”


Knife Rights said the lawsuit challenges New York State law on “gravity knives” and switchblades, and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s attempt to mischaracterize the most widely-owned pocket knives in America as contraband.


The case seeks a judicial determination that the law is unconstitutionally vague as applied to these ordinary pocket knives.


“District Attorney Vance is trying to advance his political career by exploiting a vague state law to demonize common pocket knives,” said Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter. “In the process, hundreds of law abiding knife owners are being arrested and Vance has extracted nearly $2 million from retailers to avoid prosecution on bogus charges. This lawsuit intends to put a stop to Vance’s abusive and unconscionable civil rights violations.” “One-hand opening pocket knives are legal tools, used and carried every day by millions of law-abiding professionals, tradesmen and sportsmen for work and recreation,” said Ritter. “Shame on D.A. Vance for demonizing common tools and turning honest citizens into criminals for purely political ends.”


Joining Knife Rights as plaintiffs are two private citizens, John Copeland, an internationally acclaimed artist, and Pedro Perez, an artist and fine art dealer, both New York City residents. The defendants are New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., the New York State Attorney General, and the City of New York. Knife Rights is represented by attorney David Jensen.


The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York