New York's statutory scheme for punishing criminal possession of a weapon is laid out in Article 265 of the Penal Law, and in its simplest terms it looks at three things: the nature of the alleged weapon; the way it's being used; and the identity and background of the person using it.
The punishment for criminally possessing a weapon can be severe, as this story from the Glens Falls Post Star illustrates: a Tanice Sumner of Queensbury, New York (who already had a felony DWI on her record, according to the article), was recently accused of threatening state troopers with a 'small kitchen knife'. Convicted of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, she's now serving a sentence of 1½ to 3 years in state prison.
The term 'weapon' is a broad one. It can cover anything from a machine gun to such everyday items as rubber boots, handkerchiefs, spatulas, pens and pencils. But while a machine gun is always a weapon, a handkerchief - or a kitchen knife - may or may not be, depending on how the item is being used.
We'll get into that below.