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.

Comments

  1. Nothing in the Nevada revised Statutes says anything about blade length. It does however specifically prohibit the public carry of machetes.

  2. It’s legal to carry switch blades in WV? Does that include so called “automatic knives”? You can’t buy one unless you’re L.E. or military

  3. The title should read “State Knife Carry Laws: Know Which of Your Rights Will Be Violated”.

  4. What is considered a Ballistic Knife ? Be nice..Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question…lol

  5. great maps but the little red blood splash at the bottom left takes away from its professional courtesy.

  6. Thanks for the awesome graphic! I just have one small bone to pick. All types of automatic knives over 2 inches are illegal to sell or carry in California. This includes switchblades which can technically be possessed but not carried (I’m not lawyer. NOT legal advice.) I would suggest that if some of the maps pertain to carry and others to possession you should specifically state it on the map so the casual observer doesn’t get confused.

  7. I see this infographic making its rounds on the Internet. Someone should have done better research before publishing. Knives over 3″ are not illegal in MI. Item #4 from the Michigan State Police website clearly says they are not illegal: http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1878_1591_3503_4654-10953–,00.html
    And here is the law itself from the MI legislature website: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28ted5podwauow1o1aemeprolk%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-750-226

    Knives over 3″ are only illegal if a person has the intent to use it unlawfully. I’m sure they wrote the law this way to be able to add one more charge to a person who assaults someone with a large knife. It’s much the same as the MI law that says it is a crime to wear a ski mask while committing a felony. Ski masks are not illegal, however, so don’t go creating an infographic saying they are.

    I don’t know where the myth came from, but the laws in MI have been this way for as long as I can remember. From the other comments, it looks as if there are many inaccuracies. I hope you adjust these before anyone else shares it so people actually know their rights.

    1. Concealed is the key to the 3″ knife size. The pictograph states 3″ and above to carry ‘concealed.’

      A person 18 and over is allowed to carry a 3″ and below for concealed carry. (Basically a pocket knife)

      Understanding this article stating 3″ and above is a bit off. A person in Michigan may open carry most knives at any length such as a machete, as long as the person does not have malicious intent. (In other words, a Michigan resident gets mad, grabs their machete with intent to harm an individual and open carries to their destination)

      And, hunting knives (while hunting) can be carried concealed no matter their size.

    2. I posted the actual law. You can’t just state your opinion as fact. That’s how misinformation like what you stated and the pictograph regarding MI knife laws are spread. Just because you heard it somewhere from someone doesn’t make it true.

      Here is MI law specifically dealing with concealed carry for knives: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28w0ql50ttyrgwgj2f2w25nwps%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750-227&query=on&highlight=knife

      “A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk, stiletto, a double-edged nonfolding stabbing instrument of
      any length, or any other dangerous weapon, except a hunting knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in any vehicle operated or occupied by the person, except in his or her dwelling house, place of business or on other land possessed by the person.”

      It doesn’t mention a specific size like you state. Do you research before posting. I’ll even help you out. Here is a search for all MI laws containing the word “knife”: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28w0ql50ttyrgwgj2f2w25nwps%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=MCLBasicSearch
      You won’t find that nonsense you posted anywhere in any law.

    3. Ok, while I agree your correct to some extent but, it’s obvious that you, yourself, have some ‘GIGO, vague’ information posted also.

      I have many ‘close’ family members both in law enforcement, military, as well as a retired police LT. from multiple sectors. Understanding that without sources cited, I’m nothing more than a speck of dirt on the bottom of a shoe since you nor anybody else knows me on this article.

      And, back to your post being offensive. I, not for one moment, meant any offense as all I was doing was making attempt to clear up your vague post even with the source. Most people whom have been involved with law, case law, etc, know how vague a law can be written. But, the experienced people also know clearly how to use, and search correctly, Michigan Legislature penal codes.

      Your post was correct for the most part, but you left out some key details as I explained and I still didn’t explain all of them as each and every state, although I, as well as all my family, have been a Michigan resident all our lives, know that cities do have ‘their own’ ordinances in place.

      As far as my credibility, I guess 4 years at UofM and 2 years at Baker, as well as a Michigan law class, has taught me well. The link below will assert my explanation giving more fine details about Michigan state law;

      http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(xhehmua4vpt5j3tm0smffglz))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-750-226

      There are also times when case law ends up taking precedence over a written law sorting out the ‘fine’ details.

      I do want to thank you for citing your sources, but they were a bit incomplete and also could cause a rumor to be spread as the fine details are not within that specific penal code. I do want to thank you for your services if your name reflects your service to our nation. We need more people like you giving these facts being cited correctly as there aren’t enough people that cite ‘credible’ sources. There is to much ignorance that gets online and believes everything they read and don’t know how to distinguish credible sources like you and myself. But please, don’t be deragotive and flame others thinking your the only correct person as there is always another that will shine through. 🙂

    4. Unfortunately I reposted the MCL armystrong posted but interpretation was apparently necessary as the 3″ is mentioned within the MCL link and not mentioned by the poster. The second MCL armystrong posted also explains ‘hunting knife’ exemption as I explained although flamed stating I was incorrect, although, was correct without the source being cited. Hope these posts between armystrong and myself help clear up some issues.

      Always remember, NEVER take an article, a person without credible sources cited, or information found without confirming the BOTTOM LINE SOURCE such as calling your local police department to confirm your inquiry.

    5. You have degrees in something? That’s what you’re claiming as credibility? No one cares about your U of M license plate. And you have friends and family in law enforcement and the military? I also have family in policing, the military and law, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t need to make any opinion more credible because I cited sources. Not that it matters, but I have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from SVSU, which included two semesters of internships with law enforcement agencies and a semester at a police academy. I also have 7 years in the military, including 2 years active duty with a weapons of mass destruction unit. I worked in the knife dept of a sporting goods store for 3 years, which is where I first schooled a police officer who was going by word of mouth on the supposed 3″ rule, until I showed him the actual law.

      Again, I wasn’t stating my opinion, so my background is irrelevant. I was quoting from MI law and the Michigan State Police website, which states that knives over 3″ are ONLY illegal if you have an unlawful intent. That was in my very first post. I’m glad you agree with me now, by rewording what my original post said and including links I’ve already used and explained. It only took three ranting comments.

      I meant my reply to your first comment to be insulting and derogatory. You insulted my intelligence by saying I was wrong with no research or evidence whatsoever. And then you insult everyone else’s intelligence by claiming your degrees in god knows what and your personal relationships to professionals makes you an expert in law. You have added no value to this website and I would be embarrassed by these posts if I were you.

    6. Wow, always a troll somewhere. Insulting? The ONLY insult I see, and read, is yours.

      As far as embarassment? It’s obvious your uneducated and inexperienced with with communication. If u want to be derogatory, that’s your right, But truly shows your demeanor and narcissistic personality ‘needing’ to be correct. Don’t step up trolling, and belittling others unless you know what’s right and what’s wrong.

      Sorry for the misunderstanding of my communication and your interpretation taking it the wrong way. It’s obvious you don’t know how to take a compliment or sincerity within communication. As explained within both our posts, you left out some details and was NOT insulting in anyway. And again, thank you for your service, or background knowledge doesn’t mean your right with everything

    7. I couldn’t have asked for a better post insulting my education and intelligence regarding communication than one with grammar errors and Internet slang.

  8. NY Penal Law Dangerous Weapons265.20 Exceptions (6). Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting,
    trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license issued to him
    pursuant to section 11-0713 of the environmental conservation law.

  9. In Connecticut carrying on you person or in a vehicle it is illegal to possess any Dirk knife or switchblade ,gravity knife. The blade lenth one and one half inches or over THE EDGED PORTION OF THE BLADE,a stiletto,or any knife the Length of the blade FOUR inches or longer the EDGED PORTION of the blade….Exemption of blade length is if one holds a valid Hunting Or fresh water fishing license ,or a salt water fisherman while engaging in fishing. (The reason is at The time the law was revised ,there was no salt water licence ) (There is much debait on whats difference between a dirk knife &a stiletto ,but most local cops I have talked to say a Dirk knife is any double edged knife & a stiletto is single edged.

  10. Switch blades have been legal in Alaska since September 2014. I’m glad to hear that ballistic knives are as well, I just but a Russian Ismash armory ballistic knife.

  11. It is illegal to conceal carry a pocket knife of any length in CT unless it is part of a multi-tool or unless you have a “hazardous weapons permit.” CT has never issued such a permit despite it being mentioned several times in CT’s general statutes.

    For open-carry in CT, all knives must be under four inches unless you are engaged in an outdoor activity that necessitates a knife (e.g. hunting, fishing, camping, etc.)

    Punlishing crap lihe this without actually doing your homework is wildly irresponsible.

    1. Relying on someone else’s incomplete and inaccurate research is equally irresponsible.

    2. Which is why I posted the official gov’t web site for CT

    3. Veronica Rose is an entry-level state employee and frankly put, she is inept. Following her summaries on CT firearms laws will make you a felon. My brother is a DPS employee and occasionally assists in the pistol permit appeals processing. Her shit reports are frequently cited as why people thought their actions were legal.

      Read the actual statute because THAT is the law. These summaries are intended to be high level guidance. My guess is that a lot of people are calling you out for being wrong on CT. Are you posting the link to this shit summary for them too?

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