This article will tell you what Delaware’s knife laws are in everyday English. It will also go into details about the law. Knife laws change from state to state and even city to city so make sure you talk to a local attorney.
Knives that are Legal in Delaware
- Balisong knives are legal.
- Bowie knives and other large knives are legal.
- Disguised knives like belt knives, lipstick knives, and cane knives are legal.
- Throwing knives are legal.
- Stilettos, dinks and daggers are legal.
Knives that are Banned in Delaware
- Knives that will not set off metal detectors and have a point tip are illegal.
- Knives with brass knuckles are illegal.
- Switchblades and gravity knives are illegal.
- Throwing stars are illegal.
If a knife does not fall into any of the banned category above, it is legal to own.
Limits to Carrying Knives
- It is legal to carry a 3-inch (blade) pocket knife concealed.
- Other than a 3-inch or shorter (blade) pocket knife, carrying any other type of knife concealed is illegal.
If the knife is not banned, you can carry it in the open. Only concealed carry is limited. Concealed means close enough by you that you can readily use it while being covered by something. Having a knife in your car counts as being concealed.
What the Law Says
Concealed Carry is Limited to 3″ Folders
11 Del. C. § 1442 (2012)
§ 1442. Carrying a concealed deadly weapon; class G felony; class D felony
A person is guilty of carrying a concealed deadly weapon when the person carries concealed a deadly weapon upon or about the person without a license to do so as provided by § 1441 of this title.
(5) “Deadly weapon” includes […] a knife of any sort (other than an ordinary pocketknife carried in a closed position), switchblade knife […] or any “dangerous instrument”, as defined in paragraph (4) of this section, which is used, or attempted to be used, to cause death or serious physical injury. For the purpose of this definition, an ordinary pocketknife shall be a folding knife having a blade not more than 3 inches in length.
Switchblades are Illegal
11 Del. C. § 1446 (2012)
§ 1446. Unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife; unclassified misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a knife, the blade of which is released by a spring mechanism or by gravity.
Switchblades might or might not mean balisong knives. The law here bans knives where the blade is released by a spring or gravity. A balisong’s blade is not released by gravity or a spring. It is released by inertia and a centrifugal force (flipping).
Since the law here does not state a ban on balisongs, it is up to the courts to determine if a balisong is indeed a switchblade. Delaware has no case law on this yet but some states have determined a balisong is a gravity knife whereas others do not.
Undetectable Knives are Illegal
11 Del. C. § 1446A (2012)
§ 1446A. Undetectable knives; commercial manufacture, import for commercial sale, or offers for commercial sale; or possession
(a) Any person in this state who commercially manufactures or causes to be commercially manufactured, or who knowingly imports into the state for commercial sale, keeps for commercial sale, or offers or exposes for commercial sale, or who possesses any undetectable knife is guilty of a class G felony. As used in this section, an “undetectable knife” means any knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict serious physical injury or death that is commercially manufactured to be used as a weapon and is not detectable by a metal detector or magnetometer because there is no material permanently affixed that would be detectable by a metal detector or magnetometer, either handheld or otherwise, that is set at standard calibration.
This bans ceramic point-tip knives that do not have any metal in them. Also, because of this, all point-tip knives made in Delaware needs to have some sort of permanently affixed metal that will set off metal detectors.
Ban on Martial Arts Stars
11 Del. C. § 1453 (2012)
§ 1453. Unlawfully dealing with martial arts throwing star; class B misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a martial arts throwing star when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a sharp metal throwing star.
Ban on Knuckle Knives
11 Del. C. § 1452 (2012)
§ 1452. Unlawfully dealing with knuckles-combination knife; class B misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a knuckles-combination knife when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a knife, the blade of which is supported by a knuckle ring grip handle.
This means that any knife with a brass knuckle is banned. This includes WWI trench knives and some push knives.
Conclusion on Delaware Knife Laws
You can legally own any knife as long as it is not a switchblade, throwing star, has a brass knuckle or is undetectable by metal detectors. This includes things like Bowie knives, swords, and cane knives. You can also open carry any knife you want as long as it is not banned. However, you can not conceal carry a knife unless it is a 3 inch folding knife.
This article is not legal advice and it might be wrong. There are also local laws that can come into play as well. Check with an attorney if you need legal advice.
If you have a question, post it in the comment section below. We are also looking for an attorney in Delaware who would be willing to do a short interview on Delaware knife law.