knife laws USA

KnifeUp provides, for free, knife law guides for all 50 states. Below is a map of the US, click on the state you are interested in to read about it’s knife laws. I try to keep these guides as up-to-date and accurate as possible but, for the law changes a lot, please leave a comment if you see something wrong.

Choose Your State

Knife Law Placeholder
Knife Law

How the US Justice System Works

The United States was founded under the principals of federalism. Under federalism, governing powers are divided between the federal government as well as the state governments. For states existed before the founding of the US, the writers of the Constitution respected the state’s authority by limiting federal powers to only those expressly stated within the Constitution. All other governing powers are, therefore, state powers.

For knife law, the only federal law is the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 as well as the 2009 amendment to the act (see 15 U.S.C. §1244). The federal knife law only applies to individuals who are traveling internationally as well as between states. If you reside in a federal district (see Washington D.C. knife laws), the federal law is the only law that governs knives for you. If you live in one of the 50 states, the federal law would only apply to you if you are traveling from one state to another or if you are entering federal property, such as a military base.

All states have knife laws (click on the map above to find the knife law for a particular state) but some knife laws by state are more up-to-date than others and local municipals often pass their own knife laws as well. For example, if you live in Denver, Colorado, you must abide by the knife laws of Colorado as well as the knife laws of Denver. However, if you travel to Boulder, Colorado (30 minutes away) you must conform to Boulder’s knife laws as well. And, during your journey, you must conform to the knife laws of all the municipals in between Boulder and Denver.

This makes knife laws by state a tricky subject unless your state has a preemption clause. Preemption means that the state government nullifies all knife laws by state made by municipals. Therefore, when you travel from town to town, you would not have to worry about municipal knife laws.

General Guide to Knife Laws

Knife laws can be divided into these two categories: ownership laws and carry laws.

Ownership Laws

Ownership laws forbid individuals from owning certain types of knives that society has deemed “deadly weapons” or “dangerous.” Most of the time, these knives were once associated with unlawful people such as gangs, the mob, and outlaws. It is for this reason that the Bowie knife has been outlawed in so many states.

Carry Laws

Carry laws forbid an individual from carrying, concealed or open, certain knives. For example, some states forbid an individual from conceal carry of knives over a certain length but open carry of that same knife is legal. Other states forbid the carry, concealed and open, of certain knives. Most knives that are barred from carry are ones deemed by society to have no utility uses and, therefore, their only use is as weapons.

Other Laws

Some states have laws that forbid one from aggravated display of a knife as well as committing a crime with a knife. These laws are usually only enforceable after the fact and, for that reason, allows the state to increase the penalty of a crime. For example, robber is a bad crime but robbery with a knife laws is viewed as an even worse crime and should be punished more than simple robbery.

What is Generally Allowed

If you want to carry a knife laws that is usually legal everywhere, I highly recommend you buy a knife that is clearly intended for utility use. For example, most pocket knives and all leathermans as well as multi-tools fit this description. As long as the blade is less than 3 or 2.5 inches, you should be fine. Times where this advice might not be true is at: courts, planes, schools, and special buildings that forbid the carry of blades.


  1. When I was 15 I was charged as an adult with multiple non-violent felonies in South Carolina. I currently live in North Carolina and am curious to know if I can legally carry a knife, concealed or open and what type? I read through everything on your page relative to the 2 states, but am still unclear. Thanks

  2. I just heard a rumor that TSA is allowing SMALL pocket knifes in your CARRY ON. Looking to see how legitimate this is.

    1. Not true at this time. Maybe in the future, but I don’t think so

  3. I recently took at a job at the Census Bureau in Indiana, part of the Dept. of Commerce; I am a Kentucky resident and have a 3.25″ lock-blade. I have a concealed carry permit which is reciprocal in Indiana, but my question is, “Am I allowed to carry the blade, concealed or unconcealed, into the building under federal statute?” The armed federal officer makes me disarm upon my arrival into the building. Thank you sincerely, Bryan Shepherd

    1. I work at a VA facility and according 38 CFR § 1.218 – Security and law enforcement at VA facilities (b)(39), knives should not exceed a blade length of 3 inches – I’m guessing this is pretty typical across other federal locations. I am also in NY (not NY City and NYC has different rules) and have the penal law §265.01 to follow. I found a knife that works for both of these TAC Force TF-903BK Spring Assist folding knife, it’s less than $10 on Amazon and the knife is of decent quality.

    2. You’re not allowed to because of the owner of the building. For example if you wanted to go somewhere that had a no weapons sign on the door but asked the owner of the property, if granted, you can carry there

  4. I have a question regarding knife sales. I’m about to open an online sporting goods store, and I’m sure its illegal to sell knives via my online store to anyone under the age of 18, but I just wanted to make sure before I go and add the annoying age verification to my site when I open it. I have multi-tools, pocket knives, and hunting knives, The biggest of which is a 4.9 in handcrafted Damascus.

  5. my name is Rick and I have a question about concealed carry of a knife, I do have a concealed carry permit in Florida and what I need to know is what knives are allowed to be concealed carry with a permit.

    1. Hey Rick;

      Thanks for contacting us with your question! Officially my advice is to ask that question to an attorney or para-legal in the state of Florida (or the department from which you received your license). I can’t give you official legal advice, so don’t take my word as authority. I’m just a general guide to point you in the right direction. The only info I found that pertains a bit to your question is found at this link to the government of the state of Florida (Agriculature Dept);

      It basically says that you can carry a concealed knife if you have a permit, but the definition of a knife is really limited to a PLASTIC knife, blunt table knife or pocket knife. A pocket knife is a knife with a blade that folds into the handle, and beyond that, the law is vague. So, if you stick to a small pocket knife with a 2-3 inch blade and you have a permit, then you’re fine.

      That’s my non-expert, non-legally binding two cents from experience and research.

      Best of luck my friend,


  6. Go on YouTube and look up if stiletto switchblades are legal in Texas then you will find news reports saying that they are, according to this website they say they are illegal to carry is this up to date? Somebody please respond. Plus if you have a stiletto switchblade that has a blade length of 6 inches but the cutting length is the legal limit is it legal to carry

  7. Go on YouTube and look up if stiletto switchblades are legal in Texas then you will find news reports saying that they are, according to this website they say they are illegal to carry is this up to date? Somebody please respond. Plus if you have a stiletto switchblade that has a blade length of 6 inches but the cutting length is the legal limit is it legal to carry?

  8. I’ve got a question. According to California Law, “Misleading knives are illegal. These
    include: cane knives (and shobi-zues), lipstick knives, belt knives, pen
    knives, air gauge knives, and pen knives”

    What if a manufacturer of one of these items Visibly Prints the words “Knife” or “Knife Inside”. Does this make the knife Legal to buy/sell/posses? Can one argue in court that it’s not misleading when it states in plain english there is a knife inside??

  9. Can I carry my hunting knife? it’s a case xx fixed blade , $even inches long. I carry it in a sheath. I live in Va.

  10. this is not right Missouri you can have a swich blade what thy have is the old law I spent a week talking to tsa fbi Missouri attorney general sheriff prosecuting attorney lets just say alphabet soup!!!! you google it and the old law comes up but that is no more I was told thy Are legal.

  11. I tried to contact the webmaster of this site but he made no link. The information on here about the knife laws in Tennessee are outdated and incorrect.

    Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed SB1771, Knife Rights’ bill repealing the state’s antiquated ban on switchblade (automatic) knives and possession of knives over four inches in length “with intent to go armed,” a vague law subject to abusive interpretation. As of July 1, 2014, there are no longer any per se illegal knives in Tennessee.

    This is what y’all want:

  12. There you go was that good enough so you don’t feel as guilty. Pussies.

  13. I share Lee Bell’s difficulties. All of my questions about knife laws begin with ‘where’ and what I really want to know is which states are off limits with particular blades.

    Please consider adding a way for visitors to select the characteristics of a knife and how they intend to carry it. Then, depending on that input, provide an overview of which states allow such a blade. Ideally, I would suggest color-coding the map.

    For example, someone might select fixed, 4″ blade, open carry. Then he or she would see in which states a knife like that would be perfectly legal, in which states it is completely and utterly illegal, in which states it varies by municipality, and in which states a permit is required.

    This is the most accessible resource for knife law I’ve found, so I hope this feature request doesn’t come across as unappreciative or lazy. I just think that indexing basic knife criteria would be useful to a lot of people.


  14. Information on the types of knives that can be owned and how they may be carried is quite useful, thanks.

    What I came here to find out, however, does not seem to be covered. My question is not whether, or what I can carrry, but where I can carry it. Specifically, I live in Florida and will be traveling in Wyoming and South Dakota in the near future. I need to know what the restrrictions are for carry in various places including bars, government buildings, police departments, etc.

  15. Wisconsin now has Concealed Carry weapons permits. This alows you to carry a knife concealed. Still illegal to carry a switch blade though.

  16. And I thought we in America lived in a free society but yet it is illegal to carry a knife. It seems that today you could get arrested for just about anything but yet the people who are committing real crimes get away with it and people who are trying to defend themselves get the shaft.

  17. YES! I’ve been struggling to get clarity on knife laws for a while. This is a very useful resource!

  18. Hello,

    I recently came across your site and noticed that the state of Kansas’ section has not been updated to reflect the new laws that took effect in summer of 2013.

    “HB2033 repeals all existing local knife laws in Kansas and enacts statewide preemption of any attempt to pass new local knife laws more restrictive than state law. HB2033 also repeals the ban on the possession of switchblades, dirks, daggers and stilettos.”

  19. so are you saying that it is legal to own and carry a switch blade in Utah?

  20. This is a great resource. I found one area where I was potentially illegal and didn’t even know it. Thank you very much!

  21. Map does not work in safari, could you add a list of states or a drop down menu, Thanks

  22. As of July 15, 2013 the ownership and carrying of switchblades in Kansas is now legal. You may want to research this and other states for new laws just put in.

  23. Are not knives covered under the 2nd amendment also?
    Fewer politicians, more statesmen.

  24. Even with graphics and javascript on, I can’t get the map to load. Can you perhaps but a postal abbrev for the states with a hot link to the laws of that state. Thanks Rich

Leave a Comment