New Jersey Knife Laws

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by Ian Brandstetter, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. Ian Brandstetter

    Ian Brandstetter

    Aug 20, 2019
    Are there any laws against carrying a fixed blade knife in NJ?
  2. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    As many things in NJ, yes and no!
    The law basically says that fixed blades and non-auto folding knives can be carried if "manifestly appropriate to the circumstances". Of course, the problem is the broad interpretation of that. My understanding (I'm not a lawyer, so read this at your own risk!) is that the precedent for non-auto folders states that , unless you're a sensitive space (e.g., court), it is the state that would have the duty of proving that it would be inappropriate rather than you having to prove that it is appropriate. In other words, you're assumed ok until the state proves otherwise. This assumes you don't say something silly, like that it was for self-defense, which is not ok. Personally, I _avoid_ carrying even assisted opening folders just to be on the safe side. For fixed blades, I don't think that you'd have legal issues if carrying them while hunting, fishing, or other outdoor activities, unless it is "manifestly too big" for the situation (e.g., a machete-long knife while fishing). It may even be an explicit exception in the law, but I'm not sure. Outside of that, i.e., while walking about in the street, you may be legally ok but I wouldn't be surprised if you were at least stopped and questioned by LEOs. (This is no different from same way as open-carry is supposedly legal in NJ, but I wouldn't dare doing so unless I'm really for a legal fight and would have lawyered-up beforehand.)
    Beastchopper likes this.
  3. Beastchopper


    Jun 23, 2018
    It's f*cked.
  4. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019
    I trust NJ law enforcement as much as I'd trust Jeffrey Epstine to chaperone a Girl Scout Jamboree.
    stevekolt likes this.
  5. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    Sadly I must agree. I think that law enforcement is critical to a civilized society. And, while my interactions with the local force have been positive, those impressions are contrary to other interactions with the state's police force.
  6. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019
    Here in PA the opposite seems to be the case.

    I've yet to meet a PA State Trooper I would mind sitting down over a beer & wings with.
    Even while writing you a ticket they are exceedingly polite.

    If only I could say the same about some of the local yokels
    Several of whom I assure you only remain alive because it is illegal to
    kill them.

    The thing that bugs the hell out of me, is getting lectured about going 10mph too fast on an empty 3-lane interstate, this young cop talking to me like I was a child when I have stains on by boots older than they are never fails to piss me off.
    Fishcreekrim, V-1 and marchone like this.
  7. Knife_Collector_101


    Sep 21, 2018
    That seems to be the case with most PA cops. They’re pretty laid back and don’t give people trouble about their knives unless you’re acting goofy or menacing with them.

    NJ on the other hand? Yeah, I’d be a little more cautious where they’re concerned.
    V-1 likes this.
  8. JFalc215


    Dec 4, 2019
    For people traveling to NJ from out-of-state JUST DON"T TAKE A KNIFE!! This state is crazy and has now elevated any violations to a 4th degree FELONY.
    The relevant statutes are within Title 2C, Chapter 39, which is captioned “Firearms, Other Dangerous Weapons and Instruments of Crime.”

    As of December 2019, any knife could be carried except gravity knifes, switchblade knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos, or other dangerous knives.
    This is very vague because a "gravity knife" can be any knife that will open if you flick the handle hard enough. And what is "other dangerous knives"? Just about anything a police officer and/or prosecutor decides is dangerous.

    If you are travelling somewhere that you feel you need a weapon to survive.. I would stay home. If you use it, you could end up in prison or at least spending a lot of money on a lawyer.
    Beastchopper likes this.
  9. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    Thank you for the update on the change of the law. However, I must disagree regarding your flat-out conclusion about not carrying a knife. In the worst case scenario, a victorinox or traditional folder will still be an acceptable tool to carry around. Heck, I go to NYC weekly and carry a SAK deep in the pocket and, to my knowledge, there is nothing in the law that says that's not ok.

    Those things aside, and as Beastchopper succinctly put it, it is f*cked. These fascist politicians need to be rooted out and it starts with everyone of us. Many folks in my workplace are very neo liberal, although it makes for a difficult conversation and friction, but I try to educate them as much as possible. One doesn't need to convince them, only to try to get them to understand the nuanced and multifaceted perspective on these topics. I urge you to do the same.
  10. JFalc215


    Dec 4, 2019
    You may be declaring that "a Victorinox or traditional flolder will still be an acceptable tool" but nothing is further from the actual truth. You must be able to prove to an officer's satisfaction that your intended use for the knife is related to a job necessity. And if you are not on the job at work that is going to be hard to do. We have to hope for an officer that will give us a break. And we also cannot equate "I haven't gotten caught yet" with "there's nothing in the law". If you show an NYC cop that SAK in your pocket you are going to jail.

    Here's what we are up against in New Jersey and NYC. There is no "Stand Your Ground" law, and this is combined with an "Absolute Duty to Retreat". I've seen in an NJ court where a prosecutor used the actual bad guy who was wounded as a witness against the victim who acted in self defense ("Well he could have run away from me when I tried to rob him but he didn't)!! Per NJ law if a person breaks into our house we must surrender the house to them and leave! Same with a car. There was one case where a man stabbed and killed a burglar as the burglar came through the door. He got FIFTEEN years in prison because of the way he explained it to the responding police which nullified many defense arguments a lawyer could have used.

    So regardless of what we decide to do with carrying a knife, if we get into an altercation and use it we must "KEEP OUR MOUTHS SHUT". Just tell the police "I mean no disrespect but I cannot comment without legal assistance". The first minute we are with the police will determine how guilty we are and could add years to a sentence. So we must keep our mouths shut.
    V-1 likes this.
  11. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    I found myself headed to Jersey last week (Newark, specifically). I paused before leaving the house, thought about it, and removed the fixed blade from my belt. I kept the K2 in my rfp, and Buck 501 in lfp.
    I figured the likelihood of my even seeing a police officer was minimal; but didn't want the aggravation if I did.
  12. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    Look, we agree on many aspects, including the fact to be *extremely* cautious about anything one says to law enforcement (and how we say it...) and that the laws in NJ are damn right demented. That said, the change you noted on the NJ law, does not change the priors from case law that the burden is on the state to prove to that you have no right to carry such a manifestly utilitarian tool in those circumstances. But don't take my word for it, check Evan Nappen's (an NJ attorney) talk on youtube.

    Regarding NYC, I did not confuse "I haven't gotten caught yet" with "there's nothing in the law", although I understand why one would get that impression. If a NYC cop happens to see my SAK, I'll tell them it is for handling food (e.g., fruit) and opening packages. I usually carry fruit with me, but even I don't, the burden is now on them to prove that I did not intend to use it for those manifestly lawful purposes... For the knives I mentioned, any reasonable cop will just let you go. Can one still encounter a overly zealous cop and have problems, even if one ultimately wins? Yes. But the truth is that I do use my knife all the time for the purposes I just mentioned and I have accepted the risk. In contrast, others carry assisted opening, but I said that the increased risk is not worth it for me. The unfortunate thing about law is that many things are "gray" (and NJ law is the worst in that respect) so it is up to any of us to manage risk and make our own decision. If you don't find the risks acceptable, that's your decision and I respect you and your opinion for it either way.
  13. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019
    I will say this continuously and loudly: Show me a Law enforcement officer from NJ or a Politician From NJ and I'll tell you that: You just showed me neck that needs a serious stretching Or removal of a head from on top of it! I'm sure that there are exceptions to this, but 36 ears of living there and the 20 years since have not revealed more than such is a myth, and frankly I think you are more likely to find the "Jersey Devil"!
  14. marchone

    marchone Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2013
    I’ll pile on.

    I lived in and commuted from NJ for 8 years in the 80s. Normally returning after midnight due to my work schedule. Without anecdotes, I thought then, and I think now, NJ's license plates should be changed from The Garden State to The Police State. Law enforcement in NJ is a classic and sad case of Us vs The Public.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
  15. V-1


    Apr 14, 1999
    I agree 100%. Without a doubt the Pennsylvania State Police is the most professional police force I've ever dealt with. Every police force should strive to be as professional and well trained as the PSP. The difference is amazing when you compare the competence and professionalism of the PSP with the Maryland State Police or New Jersey State Police.

    Added: My only knife interaction with the PSP was once when a Trooper in uniform politely asked to see my Benchmade Stryker (he saw the Benchmade clip and thought is was either a Benchmade Emerson or Styker - the Trooper knew his knives - lol). This was years and years ago when the Benchmade Stryker was just released on the market. He wanted to check one out in person to see if he wanted to buy one. He handed me his Spyderco Police to check out. We checked out each others blades while we pumped gas, he thanked me and told me Benchamde owes me one because he was buying a Stryker ASAP. It was a great example of how free citizens and the police should interact.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
    tom19176 likes this.
  16. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019
    Similar to an experience my brother had 15 years ago with a PA trooper he met at a Turkey Hill store while getting his morning coffee on his way to work, the office noticed he was carrying and commented on it as he rarely saw anyone CCW a Colt 1911 and asked about it and was really interested when my brother mentioned that it was a National Match 38Super Automatic and spent 20min talking with the officer about it as they spent that time examining each other's side arms. I had traded that Pistol to my brother after I had Upgraded myself to a Delta Elite 10mm.

    I am a big fan of the colt 1911, but in forty years of owning them, I still have never owned a 45:)
  17. Motega


    Jun 20, 2006
    If you live in NJ I suggest you join the Cherry Ridge shooting range- for one, it's the only place I know of in NJ where you can shoot a .50 out to 300 yards, and because as part of the membership you get a few free phone calls to our attorneys on retainer. There is also a book written specifically on the laws sold by one of the attorneys on retainer.
    I work in a public school and only carry a small keychain knife because I take care of all the supplies for our dept. and need it almost daily to open boxes, etc. We also have several armed guards and 2 full time officers on duty at all times.
    I asked him about the knife laws and more specifically what he would do, and he said that it is up to him to determine what is reasonable and not.
    You do NOT see people carrying fixed blades here. Ever. Unless you are in camo with a hunting license in plain view you're asking for trouble. I live in a vey hick town- as in bears in the yard every day, no streetlights on my street kinda place- and of the 20 or so neighbors that live on the 2 mile street I am on I only know of 2 other guys that carry a folder daily.
    My only concern is that you aren't allowed to carry in the post office or police station, and maybe a few other places and I inevitably forget because our town library is within the police station municipal building, etc.
    As others said, it's a terrible place to live when it comes to any sort of 2nd amendment or self-defense issues. Last year for example they passed a magazine ban so fast that they forgot to include the police as exempt and for a few days at least every cop in NJ was technically committing a felony all day every day till they amended it. They didn't grandfather in old mags even and gave us like a month or two to get rid of them. I'm not the most organized person and it was pretty scary trying to remember if I had some mags in one of my gun bags or cleaning kits that didn't meet the new law. I also got screwed royally on some really awesome old mags like the Sterling 40 round .223 mags that were worth like $150 each (Sterling makes the only 40 rounder I know of that functions flawlessly and reliably 100% of the time). Basically gave away $500 in magazines.

    On the other hand, regardless of where I have traveled- throughout Africa in places like J-burg, bad parts of NJ, etc. I have found that if you aren't looking for trouble doing something shady like looking for hookers or drugs then you rarely get hassled. A clean driving record, not driving under the influence, being over 40, and minding your own business I'm not too worried about carrying a 3" EDC folder but I have definitely experienced some crazy stuff from cops here.
    When I was in college, I had a girlfriend that rented a few blocks from where the ghetto started and I can remember being pulled over at rush hour with one of my buddies and the cop made us exit the vehicle, stand on the sidewalk, and strip down to our boxers. This was probably 1995 or 1996. We were like 20 at the time. Before cell phones and all that. It was so messed up, they thought we were down that way trying to buy pot or something and even after I told him exactly where she lived with her sorority sisters (the cops knew because the house was full of very hot college girls) they still totally screwed with us. This was before I was into knives.
    But yeah, that's what we deal with. Obviously changed a bit now with everyone having a cell phone but since I was down that way a few times a week I probably still wouldn't have filed a report.
    There's plenty of good cops too, I got off the hook on more than 1 occasion during that time stumbling out of bars and parties and plenty of other war stories I blush at now....but...
    bottom line is you are depending on the individual officer to make the call- they have LOT of power to handle things any way they want to because the laws are so vague.
    Last thought on this rambling post- if someone broke into my house I wouldn't hesitate to defend my family regardless of the consequences, but on the street I would rather hand over my wallet then stab a guy. Even the biggest scumbag in the world, life is worth more to me than a couple hundred bucks and a phone call to my credit card company and the cops. Plus who knows what kinda mess you're gonna make opening a guy full of the hiv and hepatitis spraying his goblin juice all over? As long as he didn;t try and actually take my knife. Now THAT'S where I draw the line.
    Beastchopper likes this.

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