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Knife laws

Both the Federal and State Governments are responsible for regulating knife laws in the United States. If you choose to go for a knife you can take anywhere and everywhere; you should opt for one that looks useful and harmless. Otherwise, you might have to go through the knife laws of the state or municipality you live in or want to visit.

The Federal government establishes those that border around knife ownership and use while other laws bordering around knife use are state regulations. Consequently, the knife use laws range from state to state.

Since knife laws in the US do not require you carrying knives for criminal intent to be flagged illegal, you have to get a full grasp of the knife laws that govern each state.

Knives illegal by state


Here, there is a freedom of purchase and ownership of many and different kinds of knives. Most legal restrictions apply to only Bowie knives. These knives are large, hilted, and single-edged. All similar knives or instruments thought to be legally identical – by the court – with Bowie knives are also deemed illegal in the state.


In Alaska, knives have frequent usage in hunting, fishing, and many other outdoor industries. Hence, knife owners in the state benefit from a favorable set of knife laws. Alaska gives municipalities room to pass knife regulating laws only if the enacted rules have semblance with State laws.

So, cities and towns can decide on where and when knife sales are or not permitted. For the most part, most of these town residents hold rights to ownership of several kinds of knives, including gravity knives and switchblades.


There are no knife restrictions in Arizona. The state laws allow anyone 21 years and older to own and carry any knife. There are no blade length restrictions either too.


It is one of the most knife-friendliest states across the US. However, local and municipal governments still hold rights to regulating laws bordering around knife length.


There are a host of restrictions to owning and carrying knives in California. Daggers, dirks, ballistic knives, and stilettos are highly prohibited. Only concealed carry is allowed for big knives.

You can carry around knives in public and private colleges but not with a length more than 2.5″.


Colorado falls between both divides of knife-restrictive and knife-friendly. In the state, some knife types such as switchblades and gravity knives are illegal irrespective of their lengths. Asides from this, all other knives are considered legal. That said, laws concerning possession of knives such as balisong and identical types aren’t clear cut.


Although ownership and possession of knives – including dangerous and exotic types – are entirely legal and can be carried or displayed on the owner’s property, strict laws are guiding carrying knives in public places.

Characteristics of the knife, including blade lengths, define the legality of blades, rather than whether they are revealed or concealed.


The knife rules of the state are well-stated and clear cut. Considering that Delaware is a coastal area, knife laws allow for the legal ownership, possession, and carrying off many knife types both in and around the home. Possession and carrying of gravity knives and switchblades are, however, illegal even when in the owner’s home or property. While concealed carrying is highly limited, knife owners enjoy open carry rights.

Residents can only carry large knives concealed after obtaining a deadly weapons permit.


The knife laws of the state allow a considerable amount of concealed carrying legal up to the level of court interpretation. There is room to conceal-carry knives like multitools and box cutters because of their use as working tools.

Most laws are knife-friendly. The only exception is ballistic knives, which are banned from possession and carrying.


It is a welcoming state for knife owners as there are only a few restrictions and very natural laws surrounding knife ownership and possessions.

Its knife legislations allow for the possession and carrying of whatever knife types, whether open or concealed even up to 5″. However, possession or use of larger knives usually requires a permit.


Its laws exist in the grey areas between knife-carrying rights and knife laws. Pocket knives, as well as other single blades, are legal to carry or possess irrespective of the blade length.

Open or concealed carry of others like gravity knives, switchblades, balisongs, and ballistic knives are illegal. There is a glaring omission of laws surrounding possession or carrying of a double-edged diver’s knife.


Knife ownership in Idaho is unlimited. Hence, people can buy, sell, or possess whatever kind of blade type they choose to have. There is room for open carrying of almost all knife types to save for in public places like prisons, schools, and some government buildings.

Restrictions are more ruling on concealed knives. The maximum blade lengths are 4″ and 2.5″ for smaller knives such as pocket knives when on school property.


Knife laws in Illinois aren’t as clear as what obtains in most other states. What is considered in most legal arguments is the intent, as well as length and construction features.

The laws were arguably put this way to reduce crimes relating to gang-related stabbings in Chicago.

Blades over 3″ are considered illegal when carried with the intent of injuring or killing a person. It is also unlawful if they are used to affect an individual’s wellbeing.


Indiana’s knife laws might not be as knife-friendly as those of Georgia or Alaska. Still, they are just free enough to allow ample freedom of possession and carrying of different knife types. Most knife types, including dangerous ones like switchblades not approved in other states, are legal here.

That said, municipalities like SouthBend and Westfield maintain their band on carrying knives in public places like parks.


The knife laws in Iowa are mostly favorable to knife owners and enthusiasts. The only exception is ballistic knives for which possession or carrying is banned even in the owner’s home or property.

Asides this knife type, individuals, can own or carry whatever knife type at home. For public carrying, there are no restrictions regarding open carry asides ballistic knives.

For concealed carrying, however, there are layers of legality to be observed first.


It is a very knife-friendly state. Almost all knife types, including long blade lengths like those in swords and machetes, are allowed. Possession and carrying of open or concealed knife type of virtually any blade length are also legal.

The state even permits ex-cons to possess and carry any knife type too.


The restrictions of the state on concealed carrying is vague. It is friendly for individuals who do not have any issues with ownership and open carry. However, it might prove more problematic for individuals to prefer concealed carrying.


Its knife laws permit ownership of almost all types of knives. Nearly all of its restrictions border around ownership and carrying of switchblades. Peace officers are the only exception to the rule. They can carry switchblades only if the use is as a rescue knife.


Individuals are allowed to carry a wide range of knife types in Maine openly. There are; however, restrictions guiding concealed carrying.

Some are outrightly banned. The banned ones include switchblades, gravity knives, and other automatic knives.


The legality of knife ownership and carrying in the state is dependent upon both intent and knife type. There is freedom to own or carry Ballistic knives and other knife types outrightly banned in most other parts of the country.


Although its laws on ownership aren’t strict, they come down heavy on individuals who choose to use their knives outside the home. Some knives are considered illegal to manufactured or sold in Massachusetts. That said, individuals can still own them.


Individuals can own several knife types in Michigan, save for few exceptions. The exceptions include switchblades, gravity knives, and other automatic knives. Interestingly, ownership of balisongs is legal.


Almost all knife types are legal in Minnesota. The exceptions are switchblades and metal knuckles. The intent is also up for legal arguments as far as knife ownership, and carrying is concerned. Some knives may be considered dangerous and hence, illegal depending on specific circumstances.


The state is mostly free and accommodating to knife owners. However, it places some restrictions on concealing broad blade types. There are restrictions to ownership by minors and ex-cons.


Residents can own almost all knife types, with switchblades the only exception. They are mostly illegal to possess, buy or sell, save for ones 3″ or shorter.


Switchblades, like in most other states, are illegal in Montana. However, there is room for recognized blade collectors to have them under specific laws.

Concealed carrying of knives is limited to only blades of 4″ or less. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule in certain areas within the state.


For the most part, concealed carrying according to the state’s knife laws is forbidden. There is, however, almost no restriction to ownership or open carry of any knife type.


The state laws allow for ownership and open or concealed carrying of most knife types. It even allows for concealed carrying of the likes of dirks and daggers. Machetes are the only exceptions.

New Hampshire:

It is entirely legal to own or carry any knife type in New Hampshire. Whether open or concealed carrying, it is completely legal.

New Jersey:

The state’s laws ban carrying of knives for illegal purposes. It also places the burden of proving the good intent of knife-carrying on the knife carrier. Even pocketknives are no exception to this law.

New Mexico:

Most knife types are legal in the state. The only exceptions are balisongs, switchblades, and all similar blades. Open carrying of large knives is also permitted. Concealed carrying is not allowed in most areas.

New York:

Possession of folding knives that can one-handed is considered illegal. And this includes even pocketknives.

North Carolina:

Individuals maintain ownership rights to almost all knife types in North Carolina. This includes rights to open carry even switchblades, gravity knives, and large knives outlawed in many other states. The only exception is ballistic knives.

North Dakota:

It is legal to own all blade types in North Dakota. By default, individuals can own knives irrespective of blade lengths, size, and method of deployment.


All knives can be considered dangerous, depending on the discretion of the presiding judge.


Residents can carry openly or concealed large knives, switchblades, and other automatic knives.


It is legal to carry switchblades concealed in Oregon. For the most part, there are no restrictions on knife ownership.


There is a ban on residents’ownership or possession of switchblades and other automatic knife types.

Rhode Island:

Individuals are allowed to own almost all knife types in Rhode Island. Metal knuckles and World War I trench knives are the only exceptions.

South Carolina:

Residents can own all knife types in South Carolina

South Dakota:

Open and concealed carry are entirely legal for any knife type in South Dakota.


Switchblades and even blades with lengths longer than 4″ are legal to carry in Tennessee.


There are a lot of restrictions bordering carrying of knives -whether open or concealed – in public.


Utah’s laws are liberal towards ownership of guns. Individuals can own daggers, dirks, a balisong, or even a butterfly knife.


The state’s laws are accommodating to ownership of all knife types. The only exception to this rule is a switchblade with a blade length of 3″ or longer.


The state’s knife laws allow ownership of a wide range of knife types. The only exceptions are switchblades, ballistic knives and throwing stars.


The knife laws permit ownership of different knife types, including automatic knife types. Concealed carry is, however, illegal for knife types like dirks and daggers.

West Virginia:

The knife laws in West Virginia place no limitations on knife ownership. It is, however, illegal to carry knives with blade lengths 3.5″ and longer without a concealed carrying permit.


The knife laws of Wisconsin allow residents to own knives of all types.


The knife laws of the state allow ownership of all knife types. There are, however, strict restrictions on concealed carrying.