Knife laws in Hawaii can be a little tricky. This guide will teach you the knife law in an easy to understand manner. It will present excerpts of the law as well as case precedence.
What is Legal to Own
- It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.
- It is legal to own throwing stars and throwing knives.
- It is legal to own disguised knives like belt knives, lipstick knives, and push knives.
- It is legal to own undetectable knives (knives that won’t set off metal detectors).
- It is legal to own dirks, daggers, and stilettos.
- It is illegal to own balisong knives (butterfly knives).
- It is illegal to own switchblades
Only balisongs and switchblades are banned in Hawaii. Any other type of knife is legal.
Limits on Carry
- The issue of concealed carry or open carry is not an issue in Hawaii. If a knife is considered a “dangerous weapon” (dirk, dagger, blackjack, slug shot, billy, metal knuckles, pistol, or other deadly or dangerous weapon) it cannot be carried either concealed or openly.
- There are no knives that can be carried one way (ie. concealed) but not the other way (openly).
What the Law Says
HRS § 134-51. Deadly weapons; prohibitions; penalty.
(a) Any person, not authorized by law, who carries concealed upon the person’s self or within any vehicle used or occupied by the person or who is found armed with any dirk, dagger, blackjack, slug shot, billy, metal knuckles, pistol, or other deadly or dangerous weapon shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be immediately arrested without warrant by any sheriff, police officer, or other officer or person. Any weapon, above enumerated, upon conviction of the one carrying or possessing it under this section, shall be summarily destroyed by the chief of police or sheriff.
(b) Whoever knowingly possesses or intentionally uses or threatens to use a deadly or dangerous weapon while engaged in the commission of a crime shall be guilty of a class C felony.
Legislation and courts have stated that the law intends to only prohibit the conceal carry of items that are specifically listed, similar to those specifically listed, or were manufactured or modified to be weapons and only weapons.
The case of State vs. Giltner in 1975 defined “deadly or dangerous weapon” as “an instrument designed primarily as a weapon, or one which has been diverted from its normal use and prepared and modified for combat purposes.” In this case, a police officer found Giltner with a deep-sea dive knife who’s blade was 6.5 inches and arrested Giltner for carrying a deadly weapon. It was later decided that a deep-sea dive knife is not a deadly weapon.
The case State vs. Muliufi in 1982 further expanded upon the definition of “deadly or dangerous weapon” with “an instrument closely associated with criminal activity whose sole design and purpose is to inflict bodily injury or death upon another human being or is designed primarily as a weapon, or one which has been diverted from its normal use and prepared and modified for combat purposes.” In this case, the court ruled that nunchaku sticks are not deadly weapons since they are used as training tools in the martial arts.
On top of this, the Judge’s opinion in State vs. Rackle in 1974 found that “a knife should not be considered a “deadly or dangerous weapon'” just because it is a knife. The manner in which it is used must be taken into account. The Judge also stated that, when “words of general description follow the enumeration of certain things, those words are restricted in their meaning to objects of like kind and character with those specified.” Therefore, if a knife does not fit within the dirk or dagger category, it can not be automatically classified as a dangerous weapon.
Because of these three cases, you can conceal carry any knife you wish as long as it is not a dirk or dagger or something similar to that. If the knife you conceal carry is something like a tactical knife or Bowie knife, it is not a dangerous weapon unless you use it in a way that makes it a dangerous weapon. For example, holding a Bowie knife at someone’s neck would make it a dangerous weapon.
Switchblade and Butterfly Knife Ban
HRS § 134-52. Switchblade knives; prohibitions; penalty.
(a) Whoever knowingly manufactures, sells, transfers, possesses, or transports in the State any switchblade knife, being any knife having a blade which opens automatically (1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or (2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
HRS § 134-53. Butterfly knives; prohibitions; penalty.
(a) Whoever knowingly manufactures, sells, transfers, possesses, or transports in the State any butterfly knife, being a knife having a blade encased in a split handle that manually unfolds with hand or wrist action with the assistance of inertia, gravity or both, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Conclusion to Hawaii Knife Law
You can own any knife you want as long as it is not a balisong or switchblade. You can open carry any knife. You can conceal carry any knife you want as long as it is not a dirk or dagger. There are no limits to the blade length of your concealed carry and you should be fine as long as you don’t use your knife in a dangerous and deadly way.
Note that this is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer. Talk to a lawyer in Hawaii if you need help. There might also be city knife laws as well.
If you have any questions, post it in the comment section below. I’ll try to answer it. We are also looking for an attorney to do a quick Hawaii knife law interview.