balisong = gravity knife?


knife law moderator
Dec 25, 1998
Pardon me for the stupid question. I have had a few inquiries about balisongs on the knife law forum. People specifically wanting to know if they are legal or not in their home state. Here is my question:

Could a balisong be interpreted as a gravity knife?

Here is the law from Washington state as an example:

Washington Crimes and Punishments Section 9.41.250. Dangerous
weapons... Every person who shall manufacture, sell or
dispose of or have in his possession any instrument or
weapon of the kind usually known as... spring blade knife,
or any knife the blade of which is automatically released
by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, or any
knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected
into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward,
downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement; who shall
furtively carry with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk...
shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
it depends on precedents set by prior case decisions, really. in MD, gravity knives are forbidden, and i know that there was a case once where a balisong was deemed not to be a gravity knife. however, i think there may also have been a case or two which ruled the opposite. get a good lawyer.
In reality, a balisong is not a gravity knife, because a gravity knife is one in which the blade falls into place from gravity. However, balisongs are sometimes construed as gravity knives as a way of making them illegal where no law specifically forbidding them has been passed.

A few years back in New York State, Attorney General Vacco's office decided NY was going to treat balisongs as gravity knives, despite the fact that case law here otherwise supports the idea that balisongs aren't illegal. (I doubt his successor, left-wing pansy Spitzer, has a more favorable opinion; he couldn't wait to get in on the class action lawsuits against gun dealers.)

I know of no one being prosecuted in New York State under this little maneuver, and provided you got a reasonable judge it would probably be thrown out -- but who knows?

The point is that while a balisong isn't a gravity knife, it sometimes is construed as one by people with enough power to hassle you.
As I said in another Thread in this Forum a couple of days ago. An MG Midget is not a Corvette, but in a Court of Law, an MG Midget can be legally defined as a Corvette.

By the letter of the law cited above, if you used a Balisong in the manner what would define it as a "Gravity Knife," you would have a half open Balisong. Not exactly an "Offensive Weapon" in any event.

But they can say a Buck 110 Folder is a "Gravity Knife" if they want to.

Golden Rule. The Weapons Rule. Those with the Weapons, make the Rules. They can do just about anything they want, because they write the laws. They don't have to make sense.
Yes! For comparison of wordings, here's a chunk of C-68, Canada's current/most recent weapons control legislation:

"prohibited weapon" means
(a) a knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife

Poor wording and sweeping scope of these few words aside, cases since have considered balisongs to be gravity knives, despite that mere gravity/centrifugal force will not open one sufficiently for use.
Gravity and Centrifugal force WILL open a Balisong. The caveat is, it is not merely able to do that, "out of the box." It takes alot of practice to be able to do that. A Latch Drop is a Gravity/Centrifugal Force Opening. But it takes skill. Something crackheads and gangbangers are not interested in acquiring.

After all, they're too busy Gangbanging and smoking rock to have the time to dedicate to such exotic endeavors.

God Bless Government, they know what is best for you, and by God, they'll put your ass in prison for your own good too. Sonsabitches.
Another thing to consider against them being considered gravity knives is that unless it's latchless or a POS then you have to pop the latch to bring it into play.
Hi Dennis,

Technically, only knives like this are really "gravity knives:"


You hold the knife vertically downwards, press the button, the knife blade falls into the locking position.

The problem is that lawmakers and courts can ignore reality when defining things. Tomatoes are botanically classed as fruits by scientists, but in NYS they are legally defined as "vegetables." :rolleyes:
Yup. Gravity knives and Balisongs couldn't be more different. In fact, you could argue that the definition of "gravity knife" that you find in most statues applies more accurately to any ordinary folding knife than to a Balisong.

One thing you can do is write to your DA and ask if he prosecutes. Some do and some don't. If he does prosecute those cases, you'll need a good lawyer if you want to carry a Balisong.

Some DAs have email addys that are easily found online. I emailed Denver's DA and was pleasantly surprised to find that he responded promptly and answered all my questions. Unfortunately, his office does consider Balisongs to be gravity knives and prosecutes accordingly. :(
I am lucky I guess. The law here in Va states that gravity knives are illegal, but the law defines one as "a knife that can be opened by....and which the blade is locked open automaticly". That sort leaves out the Balisong :D . I am not sure ware I read that so if you live in VA you need to look it up for yourself just to be on the safe side. Plus laws change, usu. w/out the knowledge of the public. Gee, wonder why? :rolleyes:
If we forget the convenient fiction that even the Switchblade and Gravity Knife Laws have anything to do with crime...

How "Just" is a System that perverts and redefines what objects are, to suit their hysteria, paranoia and prejudice...

The question of whether or not a bali is a gravity knife isn't very relevant. The question you should be asking is if the cop who sees you with it will confiscate it because he's been wanting one.
Originally posted by Disco Stu
The question of whether or not a bali is a gravity knife isn't very relevant. The question you should be asking is if the cop who sees you with it will confiscate it because he's been wanting one.

I'm sure it has happened. Positive it has. Get a receipt. If he says, "If you want a receipt for your property, I'll have to arrest you and charge you, I'm doing you a favor just confiscating it you fool..."

Then he wants your knife.

There are very specific rules for dealing with evidence. That's the warning sign.

But I don't think what you pose is the "question" to be asked as per the content of the thread.
Oh, I'm sorry Don, let me be a little more blunt. It matters little what a butterfly knife's legal status is, the more important factor in determining whether this style of knife will indeed get one into 'trouble' is the particular law enforcement officer that happens to catch one with it. Many police officers I have known know as little about such grey areas as the common forumite, therefore in many cases it will likely end up being a judgement call.
As a LEO I feel that taking away someone's property or liberty is VERY serious. LEO's often come upon situations that we aren't sure about. It is imperative to make absolutely sure that before you take away someone's freedom or property that you are doing the right thing. I make absolutely sure I am right. If there is any doubt at all then I would let the person go and/or keep his property.
Honestly, if I were a Cop and I caught a guy with a Microtech So-and-So, Out The Front, Scared to Death, Honest To God, Double-Edged, Full-Automatic, Death Dealing Switchblade...and the NCIC comes back negative...

Guess what?

You're free to is your knife, please leave it at home, because anyone else you might run into, might charge you for a stupid, antiquated law that should have never been passed to begin with for it makes no sense.

I would not care if you had a Homer Simpson or Metallica T-shirt on, would not care if you had a goatee, an earring, ink imbedded in your arm or mirror shades on. All the good things that brand people as bad people, that seem to get them "profiled."

I would no sooner enforce a stupid law like these laws, then enforce other stupid, antiquated laws on the books like not being able to kiss for longer than 30 seconds or some such nonsense. I read about that, that law is supposedly still on the books in Baltimore Co., Maryland!

There are far bigger fish to fry than busting someone who has a pocketknife with a spring in it. I refer to it as the prejudice against things that Spring & Swing.

For if the person is clean and I waste my time on this person, persecuting them for laws that make no sense, who is protecting the theoretical Lady up the road from the guy that is trying to drag her into the stand of trees behind the Wal-Mart to rape her?

I would not be cruising through that Wal-Mart parking lot, I would not be down the road driving through a neighborhood and possibly seeing the trashcan that is next to the bedroom window of a house, where a burglar has used it to get a boost up into the house. I could not fight real crime while I'm tagging people for a stupid law.

I simply do not consider a pocketknife of any description as being the Public Menace that Politicians do. "You're free to go..."

The flip side to that is, what if I let someone go that had that Switchblade and they did commit evil with it? Well, they could have done it with anything. The mere possession of it is meaningless to me.

Might lose my job for doing things like that too, that would be fine. I could go to Glen Cove, Georgia for a few weeks and come back and be an Amtrak LEO. The retirement is better with Amtrak anyway.

I don't know what the answers are...but the laws are getting worse, they're getting even more stupid, and where do you draw the line?