2021 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 30 - Criminal Offenses
Article 7 - Weapons and Explosives
Section 30-7-8 - Unlawful possession of switchblades.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 30-7-8 (2021)

Unlawful possession of switchblades consists of any person, either manufacturing, causing to be manufactured, possessing, displaying, offering, selling, lending, giving away or purchasing any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or any knife having a blade which opens or falls or is ejected into position by the force of gravity or by any outward or centrifugal thrust or movement.

Whoever commits unlawful possession of switchblades is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

History: 1953 Comp., § 40A-7-7, enacted by Laws 1963, ch. 303, § 7-7.


Constitutionality — The terms of this section have specific meanings and can be defined unambiguously. Giving those words their ordinary meanings results in a reasonable and practical construction. Therefore, the statute is not void for vagueness. State v. Riddall, 1991-NMCA-033, 112 N.M. 78, 811 P.2d 576, cert. denied, 112 N.M. 21, 810 P.2d 1241.

Constitutionality under the right to bear arms. — The appropriate level of constitutional scrutiny in a right to bear arms challenge pursuant to N.M. Const., art. II, § 6, is intermediate scrutiny; to survive a challenge under intermediate scrutiny, the government must show that the statute is substantially related to an important government purpose. State v. Murillo, 2015-NMCA-046.

This section serves an important governmental purpose, to protect the public from the surprise use of a dangerous weapon utilized in large part for unlawful activity, and prohibiting the possession of switchblades is substantially related to this narrow, but important, purpose. State v. Murillo, 2015-NMCA-046.

Constitutionality under substantive due process. — Substantive due process prevents the government from engaging in conduct that shocks the conscience or interferes with rights implicit in the concept of ordered liberty; the appropriate level of scrutiny of a statute challenged under substantive due process grounds depends on the nature and importance of the individual interests asserted and the classifications created by the statute. State v. Murillo, 2015-NMCA-046.

Where defendant claimed that prohibiting the possession of switchblade knives violated his right to bear arms guaranteed under U.S. Const., amend. II, as applied to the states under the due process clause of U.S. Const., amend. XIV, the New Mexico court of appeals, applying intermediate scrutiny to this section, held that the statute is not repugnant to the right to bear arms under a federal standard and that defendant's federal substantive due process challenge fails. State v. Murillo, 2015-NMCA-046.

"Butterfly knife" included within the term "switchblade". — In determining whether a "butterfly knife" constitutes a switchblade, it is of no legal significance that a combination of gravity and centrifugal force is required. The phrase "any outward or centrifugal thrust or movement" suggests a legislative intent to include knives that require a combination of forces to operate. In this case, the words used and the intended purpose of the provision in which the words are contained indicate that the legislature intended to include a "butterfly knife" within the term "switchblade knife". State v. Riddall, 1991-NMCA-033, 112 N.M. 78, 811 P.2d 576, cert. denied, 112 N.M. 21, 810 P.2d 1241.

Demonstration of switchblade to jury held proper. — Where a defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a switchblade, the trial court did not err in permitting a demonstration of how the knife worked. The issue for the jury in this case was how the knife could be opened. Therefore, the officer's demonstration was properly allowed over the objection made at trial. State v. Riddall, 1991-NMCA-033, 112 N.M. 78, 811 P.2d 576, cert. denied, 112 N.M. 21, 810 P.2d 1241.

Sufficiency of evidence. — Where a defendant was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon, the prosecution was not required to prove that the knife could actually be used to inflict great bodily harm; the prosecution needed to prove only that a butterfly knife was a switchblade. Thus there was sufficient evidence that the knife carried by defendant was a switchblade as defined in 30-7-8 NMSA 1978. State v. Riddall, 1991-NMCA-033, 112 N.M. 78, 811 P.2d 576, cert. denied, 112 N.M. 21, 810 P.2d 1241.

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — Validity of state statute proscribing possession or carrying of knife, 47 A.L.R.4th 651.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. New Mexico may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.