Are Brass Knuckles Illegal In New York? A Look At The Laws

Brass knuckles may seem like an intriguing self-defense tool, but are these metal fist weapons actually legal to own and carry in New York? The short answer is no – brass knuckles are considered an illegal weapon prohibited under New York penal code.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine New York’s laws surrounding brass knuckles, including possession, carrying, selling, manufacturing, and using them. You’ll learn about the specific statutes that ban brass knuckles, the reasons behind the restrictions, and the penalties you could face if caught with them. We’ll also look at any exceptions, loopholes, or defenses you might have.

By the end, you’ll understand clearly whether regular citizens can legally own brass knuckles in NY, and what to know if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

New York Laws on Possessing Brass Knuckles

Brass knuckles, also known as metal knuckles, are a type of weapon that have been the subject of legal controversy in many states. In New York, possessing brass knuckles is strictly regulated, and it is important for residents and visitors to understand the laws surrounding their possession.

Classified as ‘metal knuckles’

In New York, brass knuckles are classified as “metal knuckles” under the state’s penal code. This means that any device that is designed to be worn on the hand and to increase the force of a punch by adding weight or by concentrating the force of the blow is considered illegal.

It is worth noting that the law does not specifically mention brass knuckles by name, but rather uses the broader term “metal knuckles” to encompass a range of similar weapons.

Banned under penal code 265.01

The possession of metal knuckles is explicitly prohibited under Section 265.01 of the New York Penal Law. This law makes it a crime to possess any dangerous weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person.

It is important to understand that the intent to use the metal knuckles as a weapon is a crucial factor in determining whether an individual has violated the law. Simply possessing metal knuckles without any intent to use them unlawfully may not be sufficient to establish criminal liability.

Charges and penalties for possession

In New York, the possession of metal knuckles is considered a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, individuals can face up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

It is also worth noting that possessing metal knuckles while committing another crime, such as robbery or assault, can lead to enhanced charges and penalties. In such cases, individuals may face felony charges, which carry more severe consequences.

It is important to consult with a legal professional if you have been charged with possessing metal knuckles in New York. They can provide guidance on the specific circumstances of your case and help you navigate the legal process.

For more information on the laws surrounding the possession of metal knuckles in New York, you can visit the official website of the New York State Legislature:

Restrictions on Carrying and Concealed Carry

Considered a ‘dangerous weapon’

In New York, brass knuckles are classified as a “dangerous weapon.” This means that carrying or possessing them is illegal. According to New York Penal Law Section 265.01, it is a crime to possess any dangerous weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person.

Even if you do not have any intention to use brass knuckles in a harmful manner, simply having them in your possession can lead to legal consequences.

It is important to note that the term “dangerous weapon” encompasses various items that are designed to cause harm, including brass knuckles. The law aims to protect public safety by prohibiting the possession and use of such weapons.

No permit allows carrying

Unlike some states where individuals can obtain permits to carry certain weapons, New York does not issue permits for carrying brass knuckles. The possession of brass knuckles is illegal regardless of whether you have a permit or not.

This means that even if you have a valid permit for carrying other types of weapons, it does not give you the authority to possess or carry brass knuckles.

The state of New York takes a strict stance on the possession of dangerous weapons, and brass knuckles fall under this category. Therefore, it is essential to understand that no permit or license allows for the legal carrying of brass knuckles in New York.

Aggravating factors if concealed

If you are found to be concealing brass knuckles, the legal consequences can be even more severe. New York Penal Law Section 265.02 states that carrying a concealed “dangerous instrument” is a crime. This means that if you are caught hiding brass knuckles on your person, you could face additional charges and penalties.

Concealing a dangerous weapon like brass knuckles can be seen as an aggravating factor, as it implies an intention to use the weapon discreetly or unlawfully. The law aims to deter individuals from carrying concealed weapons to prevent potential harm to others and maintain public safety.

Purchasing, Selling, and Transferring Brass Knuckles

When it comes to brass knuckles, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding their purchase, sale, and transfer in New York. Brass knuckles are considered dangerous weapons and their possession is heavily regulated in the state.

Sale and transfers prohibited

Under New York law, it is illegal to sell or transfer brass knuckles to anyone. This includes both in-person sales and online transactions. The possession of brass knuckles with the intent to sell or transfer them is also prohibited. Violating these laws can result in criminal charges and penalties.

The prohibition on the sale and transfer of brass knuckles is in place to prevent these dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Their potential for harm and use in criminal activities make it necessary to regulate their distribution.

Exceptions for certain sellers

While the sale and transfer of brass knuckles are generally prohibited, there are some exceptions for certain sellers. Law enforcement agencies, military personnel, and individuals with valid licenses or permits may be allowed to sell or transfer brass knuckles in specific circumstances.

These exceptions exist to accommodate individuals who require brass knuckles for legitimate purposes, such as self-defense or professional use. However, even in these cases, strict regulations and oversight are in place to ensure responsible ownership and prevent misuse.

Buying brass knuckles from out of state

It’s important to note that even if brass knuckles are legal in other states, it is still illegal to purchase them and have them shipped to New York. The possession of brass knuckles in New York is strictly regulated, regardless of where they were purchased.

If you are caught purchasing brass knuckles from out of state and having them shipped to New York, you could face criminal charges. It’s always best to familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations before attempting to purchase or possess these weapons.

For more information on the specific laws and regulations regarding brass knuckles in New York, it is recommended to consult the official website of the New York State Legislature:

Potential Defenses or Exceptions

While brass knuckles are generally considered illegal in New York, there are some potential defenses or exceptions that individuals may use to argue their use or possession of these items. It is important to note that these defenses or exceptions may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the interpretation of the law by the courts.

Self-defense arguments

One potential defense that individuals may use is claiming self-defense. If a person can demonstrate that they used brass knuckles as a means of protecting themselves from imminent harm or danger, they may be able to argue that their actions were justified.

However, it is important to remember that the use of excessive force may still be considered illegal, and the courts will carefully evaluate the circumstances of each case.

Law enforcement, military uses

In certain situations, law enforcement officers and members of the military may be authorized to possess and use brass knuckles as part of their official duties. These individuals may be exempt from the general prohibition on brass knuckles due to the nature of their work, where they may require such tools for self-defense or to subdue suspects.

It is important to note that this exception is specific to those individuals who are authorized by law to carry such items.

Antique collector’s items

In some cases, brass knuckles may be considered as antique collector’s items rather than weapons. If an individual can demonstrate that the brass knuckles in their possession are of historical or cultural significance, they may be able to argue that they are exempt from the general prohibition.

However, it is important to consult with legal professionals or experts in antique firearms and weapons to determine the specific criteria that must be met for an item to be considered an antique collector’s item.

It is crucial to understand that the information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. The interpretation and application of laws can vary, and it is advisable to consult with legal professionals or refer to official government sources for accurate and up-to-date information on the laws regarding brass knuckles in New York.


Overall, brass knuckles are clearly prohibited for average citizens to buy, own, or carry in New York. While there are certain exceptions in the law, in general it is best to avoid possessing metal knuckles to stay on the safe side.

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