State Knife Carry Laws: Know Your Rights

The US is based upon federalism and, for that reason, laws are created at the federal, state, and municipal level. With regards to knife law, this makes things particularly tricky since a certain knife can be legal in one state and illegal in the next as well as legal in one county and illegal in the neighboring county. The infographic below highlights where certain knives are legal and illegal at the state level. This article goes on to explain some common misperceptions about knife law in the US.

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Did you know that ballistic knives are illegal in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington? Ballistic knives are illegal on the federal level thanks to 15 USC § 1245 but federal law only applies when you are traveling between states, are on federal land (such as a federal park or in Washington D.C. or a DOD military base), or moving between countries.

These aren’t the only states buckling down on knife laws. Switchblades are also illegal in the following states: Alaska; Colorado; Delaware; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Kansas; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Pennsylvania; Tennessee, and Washington. On the federal level 15 USC § 1241-1244 makes switchblades illegal as well.

Almost all states allow knives to be openly carried and it is only Georgia who limits the open carry of pocket knives to 5 inches. Note that, besides this limitation, Georgia has really nice knife laws.

Furthermore, it is also illegal to carry concealed knives that are three inches or more in Colorado, Delaware, Florida and Rhode Island. In Kansas, Montana, Missouri and Tennessee, it is illegal to carry concealed knives that are four inches and above. Idaho, Kentucky and West Virginia are three states that requires licenses to carry knives that are three inches and above.

For more details on your state’s knife laws, check out KnifeUp’s knife law guide for all 50 states. KnifeUp also has great review articles on such things as the best survival knives, best pocket knives, and best machete.

  • Steve

    Don’t be mislead by Connecticut being missing in this info:
    https://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/rpt/2007-R-0346.htm

  • Steve

    I see from the remarks here that this is over 2 years old… Maybe that’s why it is so incomplete and obviously WRONG. Don’t use this info to guide your actions.. do the research. Each state posts it’s knife laws.. Get it from the legit source

  • Lisa Maloney

    Bottom line is use whatever you can to protect yourself when being attacked.

  • Jessica

    Kansas just changed their knife laws. Which is awesome. They removed length restrictions, and the only knives illegal are ballistic knives and throwing stars. And all legal blades are allowed to be concealed or open carried!! :)asked my dads best friend (a cop) if that meant we could carry swords! Yep. Technically you can. You could carry a damn broad sword or katana if you want.

  • Jeff Peck

    Makes me glad to live in Oregon!