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While researching for a novel, I stumbled about an interesting legal point I can't answer on my own because I neither am a lawyer nor am in the US:

Between 1945 and 1951 quite some Katana were surrendered to the occupying American forces. Many were destroyed or buried. A not too small number did end up not destroyed as ordered but taken as souvenirs by US soldiers. While ethically questionable and still an apple of contention in some way, that is not the question here.

I would like to know: how did New York Law handle the possession and carrying of (historical) swords like katana between 1945 and the 1960s?

I know that nowadays §265.01 of the NY Penal Code governs possession and transport of such 'knives', but I could only find the revisions that were made in the 2000s, but no indication that there would have been a similar law earlier.


My research gave me slight insight into the federal gun laws, for example from here, hinting me at the 1934 National Firearms Act and United States v Miller, but both dealt with firearms/firearms transport and did not address bladed weaponry.

In contrast, the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 seems to only address short bladed weapons of specific makeup, not Katana or similar

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I'm not sure they would have handled the possession as they probably were only kept by important people who wouldn't have been as strictly monitored.

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    This is unconvincing, I think katana were much more likely to be brought home by regular GIs - "important people" weren't well-represented in the infantry companies who would have received such tendered weapons from their Japanese owners. In any event, I think the issue would come up rarely, as such swords were likely to end up in a box in the attic, and forgotten. – DavidSupportsMonica Jul 21 at 18:38
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    This does not show any sign of research into the governing law in the 1960s or even any insight into the topic of war tropies of US soldiers. GIs brought home at least 343 Arasaka type 99 rifles (that's what gunbroker just told me) and war-trophy katanas are actually not that rare - some of them regularly end in auction houses or Museums – Trish Jul 21 at 19:01

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