Los Angeles California Knife Laws

Peter Stec
February 27, 2019
Los Angeles knife law
los angeles knife laws

In the US, there are several laws in force on different levels. There are federal, state, and municipal laws, all of which are very confusing when put together especially since they can differ from each other depending on which place you’re in. This causes trouble most of the time, especially for travelers who don’t know much about the distinctions. The knife laws are no exception – just equally baffling and unclear for the most part.

Los Angeles, California is just one of the cities that have very specific, yet vague knife laws. In fact, most of the questions posted were centered on the interpretation of the law and that most of the time you need an attorney to clarify on the finer points.

What knives are considered illegal to possess and under what circumstances?

Under the Los Angeles City Code, Sec. 13.62., it is unlawful for any person to carry knives or daggers in plain view in a public setting, just like other laws i.e. New York City Administrative Code which specifically prohibits the carrying of a knife in a public place in view of the threat caused by its exposure.

This is contained under Los Angeles City Code, Sec. 13.62.020 which states that:

13.62.020 – Carrying knives and daggers in plain view prohibited.

It is unlawful for any person to carry on his person, in plain view, any knife or dagger.

Controversies regarding the interpretation of the law

One of the most common controversies surrounding the law is the interpretation of the provision just mentioned (subsection (b) of Los Angeles City Code, Sec. 13.62.020.), particularly the word “plain view”.

Does plain view mean that you can carry it concealed?

Does plain view only include the knife itself and not a knife in a sheath?

These are just some of the legitimate questions to which we can only interpret in our best comprehension. But going by the letter and the intent of the law, it seems like the purpose of the law is to protect the public from the threat knives pose in plain view. Hence, a concealed knife is allowed on the premise that it cannot cause any known threat or immediate panic among the public, which is mostly oblivious to its existence. A knife that is in the passenger area of a car can be considered in plain view in some cases.

How are knives or daggers defined under the said law?

The term “knife” or “dagger” can be better understood by its definition under Los Angeles City Code, Sec. 13.62.010, which states that:

13.62.010 – Knives and daggers defined.

As used in this chapter, the terms “knives and daggers” shall include any knife having a blade of three inches or more in length; any spring-blade, switch-blade or snap-blade knife; any knife any blade of which is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device; any ice pick or similar sharp stabbing tool; any straight-edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle.

This definition has a wide implication especially considering its catch-all provision “or similar sharp tool, any straight edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle”. This catch-all provision widens the scope of the term knife or dagger, to include any sharp tool with a razor fitted to a handle, even if it does not technically qualify as a knife.

Penalty

13.62.040 – Violation—Penalty.

Any person violating this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not exceeding $500.00 or by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Exemption

13.62.030 – Exemptions to chapter applicability.

The foregoing restrictions shall not be deemed to prohibit the carrying of ordinary tools or equipment for use in a lawful occupation or for the purpose of lawful recreation, or where the carrying of a knife or dagger is a recognized religious practice.

Conclusion

Knives reaching 3 inches or more are banned to be shown in public, regardless of whether you intend to use it for something legitimate or not. What is given more priority by this law is the effect of the possession of the knife which is panic and undue threat to the public, rather than the intent of its holder for its use.

The intent of the lawmakers to curb the effects of shown bladed weapons can also be gleaned from the fact that concealed weapons are allowed. When the knife you’re carrying does not in any way affect the public, it is allowed to be carried. This is not the case with regard to other states, so we can say that this law is far more laid-back than other laws.

Note that this is not legal advice and state/federal knife laws also come into play. Read the KnifeUp guide to California state knife laws here. Check out the top 3 tactical tomahawks.

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

24 comments on “Los Angeles California Knife Laws”

  1. Now isn’t it arguable that state law trumps city law and California Penal Code states that it’s legal to carry a dirk or dagger as long as it is open carry? And what dictates as Los Angeles? Los Angeles County extends far outside the border of Los Angeles the city and even into forests and agricultural areas, so does this apply even when in a different city that still resides in Los Angeles county?

    1. Fine Print: I’m not a lawyer, and if you want legal advice, you should talk to one. This kind of before-the-fact consultation wouldn’t usually cost you much, if anything at all.

      It’s generally true that state law trumps local law, just as federal law trumps state laws, and all of them are subordinate to the Constitution. However, a lot of regulatory laws are written so that they only set an outer limit, and allow lower levels of government to set more restrictive laws. For example, the US Congress could pass a law that prohibits selling tobacco to anyone under 18. But if California decides that they won’t allow tobacco to be sold to anyone under 21, that’s totally fine, since the law is about who *can’t* buy tobacco–that is, it doesn’t say “anyone over 18 *can* buy tobacco.” Similarly, for knife laws, if California says that knives X, Y, and Z are prohibited, Los Angeles can also say that additionally knives A, B, and C are also banned. It really does come down to how the laws are written.

    2. Travis John, my reply is three years late, but late is better than never, although you may have found the answer already. To start with, the state constitution allows “A county or city [to] make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.” (California Constitution, Section 7, article XI.)

      However, whether local laws may supplement (add additional requirements to) state law depends on whether the state law has preempted the ability to supplement it at the local level, and, specifically, whether the control of knives or knife-like weapons has been preempted (barred) by state law. The short answer is generally, at least, ‘no.’ (See Yuen v. Municipal Court (1975) 52 Cal.App.3d 352, 357 [“there is no relevant statute which expressly states that the concealed carrying of dangerous or deadly weapons is exclusively a matter of state concern. Nor do we find that there is a reasonable implication of such legislative intent that a paramount state concern will not permit further local regulation”].)

      As to the second portion of your questions pertaining to LA County outside the City of LA, the same applies: like the City’s municipal code, LA County supervisor districts and other city governments within the county can also supplement state law.

      Steve Groen
      San Diego

  2. I live in LA county. If you are not a criminal. Cary anyway. screw it. I think 500 bucks is well worth your life. An LAPD officer told my wife to carry a concealed pistol when she is out in the wilderness walking the dogs. He said, be willing to pay the fine. Its well worth your life. Most of these laws are intended to give some leeway when dealing with known criminals so they can lock them up when they find a knife on them. Unfortunately these laws can go too far and screw a good tax paying citizen and have a tendency to evolve into draconian laws by fearful socialists. LA has its fair share of latte drinking, tax taking, socialists.

    1. Mustachio: It’s only worth your life if you have training with your knife otherwise carrying a knife is not recommended for self defense. Also it’s not just $500 It’s jail time if the judge decides so.

    2. true, sometimes I have to walk a few miles to my friends house to get a ride for school, i have to walk at 3 in the morning and id like to carry a knife and drop it off at their house but im confused by the laws as the state says yes but the county says no. (my knife is a KA BAR 7 inch)

  3. I carry in LA County concealed all the time folders, spring assist folders, and autos under 2″ blade length. Never been stopped or harassed. If you don’t bring attention to yourself your fine. Believe me, there is plenty of scum the cops have to deal with. They don’t have time for this petty crap.

  4. Since the state law is that knives may only be on your person if they are open, it stands to reason that Los Angeles’s law that exposed knives are not was passed to make BOTH illegal, in that area. If a state law says A is legal and B is not, and a city law simply says that A is not, without addressing B, then both A and B are illegally.

  5. Live in L.A. ? Got news for you, any knife is illegal to carry, exposed or not. The policeman is not your friend.

  6. I think that the Los Angeles codes should fall in line under state laws and not contradict them. It makes things unnecessarily messy and complicated.

    I also agree with @mustachio who said “Unfortunately these laws can go too far and screw a good tax paying citizen and have a tendency to evolve into draconian laws by fearful socialists. LA has its fair share of latte drinking, tax taking, socialists.”
    It is honestly just sad that you aren’t allowed to protect yourself. I’ve been hassled twice by police officers for carrying a buck knife, which is a small folding knife with a stiff spring. It is absurd. #DownWithLAKnifeLaws

  7. Thank you, I am going to further research (Calif. State laws[here].
    I like that this was presented with”perspective”, it has helped alleviate much dread of e.g. Egotistical paranoid..”grab the dog…and coffees ????..they’re after us…all about us..”-Types in abundance here,…i.e. Mentalities…and undue persecutions, for seeing the misc positive uses and needs for this type tool. Thanks again, and I learned something(I thought that it had to be in a sheath in plain view)????

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  9. A coworker and myself were comparing knives while waiting for our burgers at Fosters in the valley. Suddenly a very large, black hand came between us a flipped open a curved blade pocket machete. This was followed by a chuckle and “This is what I carry”. It was a very large LADP officer.

  10. Hey, actual socialist here. The latte drinkers you talk of who want to ban guns are social democrats. Real socialists actually encourage owning, and the legal carry of firearms, knives, etc. Im on this site because I wanted to see if I could carry my half-foot US-made bowie legally.

  11. Los Angeles crime city.
    Long ago in the mountains drilled niches plutonium drills and there inflated pavilions for studios. The streets of the city were built several times. Where was the road where there house was the house there are paved roads. The streets were 1000 years in the past.
    But with the evolution or what not can turn of 91 degrees or more. So the left pipe and tubs at the air. 2 metres square stand pipes, and where we were when the floors into the air was welded cast-iron bathtubs. This is because they are building a moonshine apparatus 90 degrees.
    In the town lived apes under the name of Capuchins.
    Los Angeles has many years of existence and traces of archaeological excavations can lead to the 1000 years in the past.
    Proccy pavilions plutonium drills and in modern times renders the new pavilions of the studios.
    But why but why?
    A fire could destroy everything it was supposed to happen! In the city where there is a Museum of death and all the skyscrapers in the traces of plastic surgery where the cemetery Hancock get organic alcohol from brasenia cadaveric remains and so on just must burn (iT Fire).

  12. I own a CRKT M-16 03KS, it is a pocket knife with a blade length of 3.55 in and I carry it in my pocket using the little metal clip attached to the knife. I am curious if I could be charged with simply carrying this knife in my pocket if detained by an officer. The reason I ask is because I understand that the LA city law states that the knife may not be over 3 in in length so I was wondering if this applies to such a knife

    1. 13.62.020 – Carrying knives and daggers in plain view prohibited.

      It is unlawful for any person to carry on his person, in plain view, any knife or dagger.

      So if it in your pocket its conceal. It ok to carry

    2. I carry the exact same knife and I wondering that too. I also bought myself a XL luzon from cold steel, it has a 6 inch blade and a 7 inch handle but it’s a folder too. So I’m guessing that I cant carry that one but what about the crkt. LA Is so lame and how it goes against state Law

  13. In Los Angeles, politicians here expect you to carry flowers instead of knives or guns for self defense. That way when and if you are unexpectedly mugged or attacked by a criminal, you can give them a flower for peace in lieu of protecting yourself or stopping a threat. Isn’t it wonderful in LA?

    1. Ya, I’m afraid most of the big cities have been lost to extreme “progressive” liberalism – like much of Canada. In Canada, you can NEVER have a handgun for any purpose other than a collector’s item (and then you have to spend a year qualifying to be a collector), but NEVER to carry under any circumstances for any reason in any area in any province in the whole country. Canada was first to CELEBRATE AND PROMOTE (not just legalize) gay marriage (as though God had nothing to say about it when He established marriage) and in Canada, you’d be charged if you ever defended yourself with a weapon. Your assailant would win in court almost every time. That’s the mockery liberalism and a “progressive” world view make of normal laws meant to protect us.
      Thanks for your comment Jack,
      Pete

    2. meh. if they use the flower(s) as a weapon, dont come crying to me, or anyone of us, if you get edredrum.

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