I-Team: Top New York Republican Silent on Issue of Pocket Knives Despite NRA Support

A Long Island Republican who received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association in 2012 for his support of gun rights won't say where he stands on the issue of knives. 

New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who represents Smithtown, is deciding whether to allow state senators to vote on Senate bill 6483A, a proposed law that would decriminalize most small folding knives. Flanagan declined to answer questions from the I-Team about his position on the bill. 

When asked whether Flanagan supports the right to carry a pocket knife, his spokesman, Scott Reif, also declined to answer the question. 

“Listen, I mean that’s a bill that’s going to be discussed along with hundreds of other bills that we’re looking at in the [Senate] session,” Reif said. 

The NRA supports decriminalizing pocket knives on self-defense grounds. 

"The changes offered in [the bill] provide law-abiding New Yorkers with greater protection when it comes to their limited self-defense options,” wrote Lars Dalseide, an NRA spokesman. 

If Flanagan does not allow a vote on the knife bill before June 16, the end of the legislative session, he may risk a lowering of his NRA rating, an important benchmark for many Republican voters. Flanagan is already under fire from gun rights supporters for his vote in favor of New York’s SAFE Act gun control legislation. 

Currently, New York’s gravity knife law bans blades that can be deployed by “the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force." But critics say that gives too much power to a police officer who may have the skill to open a pocket knife with one hand using the flick of his or her wrist. 

"People are going to jail based upon whether a police officer’s flick of the wrist leads to one movement or another of a folding knife. That’s just inherently wrong," said Assembly Member Dan Quart (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the companion bill that passed in the State Assembly. 

Quart's legislation would legalize a pocket knife as long as it has some "bias toward closure," meaning the blade does not freely swing out from the handle. 

Last June, the I-Team reported that the bill had been stalled in the state Senate for several years, and that the main roadblock had been Republican Sen. Michael Nozzolio, another ardent supporter of the Second Amendment.

Last year, the I-Team revealed how minor weapons arrests, mostly for knives, have landed more than 80,000 New Yorkers in criminal court over the last decade, but there are only about 18 convictions for every 100 arrests.

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