state knife laws feature

Washington Knife Laws

The Seal of The State of WashingtonWashington State knife laws are vague and difficult to piece together. This article puts all of the laws together in an easy to understand way, so that anyone can figure out what is legal and what is not when it comes to owning and carrying knives in the state of Washington.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife
  • It is legal to own bowie knife
  • It is legal to own a stiletto
  • It is legal to own a disguised knife, such as a lipstick or belt buckle
  • It is legal to own throwing stars

What is Illegal to Own

It is illegal to own a switchblade or other spring blade knife in the state of Washington.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dagger
  • It is illegal to conceal carry any dangerous weapon
  • It is illegal to open or conceal carry any weapon into a Courtroom

It is also illegal to carry or display a dagger, sword, knife, or other cutting or stabbing instrument in a manner or under circumstances that would cause alarm or show an intent to intimidate another. In 1994, in State v. Spencer, the Supreme Court of Washington held that there must be a sufficient basis for the alarm, such that a reasonable person would be alarmed. Also in 1994, the Court held, in State v. Byrd, that because the display of a weapon in a manner that caused reasonable fear or alarm could be done without intent, a violation of the statute did not require intent. This means that one does not have to intend to cause alarm or fear in order to be guilty of a crime under the statute.

What the Law States

§ 9.41.250. Dangerous weapons — Penalty

(1) Every person who…

(a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slung shot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife

(b) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon

Definitions of Various Types of Knives

A spring blade knife is defined by Washington statute as a knife with a blade that is automatically released by a spring or other mechanical devise or with a blade that opens, falls, or is ejected by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal movement (spinning the knife). No other knife is defined by the statutes or by the case law. When the legislature fails to define a term, the Court will generally use the plain English meaning of the word, which is the meaning giving by Webster’s dictionary.

Definition of Dangerous Weapon

Washington statutes fail to define dangerous weapons, but in 2002, in an unpublished opinion, the Court, in State v. Bonebright, citing two other cases, stated that Courts have generally defined a dangerous weapon as an object capable of inflicting great bodily harm. It also said that Division One of the Court had noted that the term “dangerous weapon” is similar to the term deadly weapon, which is defined in RCW 9.94A.125 as an instrument that has the capacity to inflict death.

Meaning of Furtively in Statute

In 1995, in State v. Myles, the Supreme Court of Washington discussed the use of the word “furtively” in the conceal carry statute. Ms. Myles, a 16 year old, had been discovered swearing at a group of people, with a paring knife in her pocket. The juvenile Court found that the knife was a dangerous weapon and convicted Ms. Myles of possession of a dangerous weapon. Ms. Myles appealed the conviction to the Court of Appeals, who reversed the conviction. The state then appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington. Ms. Myles argued that the statute required a furtive act in order to convict a person of possession of a dangerous weapon. The Supreme Court looked to the dictionary for a definition of furtively, which means secretly. It held that the word applied to the conduct of carrying a concealed weapon, which, when concealed was necessarily ‘secret’ and not to the intent. Therefore, it upheld the conviction.

Exceptions to Conceal Carry or Display

Conceal carry and display laws do not apply to those who are in their own homes, at their fixed place of business, or defending themselves against a presently threatened use of unlawful force. In 1983, the Washington Court of Appeals, in State v. Haley, found that a deck attached to the house and accessible from several rooms of the home, was a part of the home, and exempt from the display statute. In 2003, however, the same Court, in State v. Smith, ruled that a person’s backyard was not ‘in their home’ and therefore, a person was not exempt from the carry or display statute while in their backyard.

Conclusion on Washington State Knife Laws

It is illegal to own a switchblade or other spring blade knife in the state of Washington.

It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, dagger, or other dangerous weapon. It is legal to open carry any type of weapon, so long as it is not carried in a way that may cause others alarm.


  • Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9.41.250 (2019)
  • Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9.41.270 
  • State v. Spencer, 876 P.2d 939 (1994)
  • State v. Byrd, 774, 868 P.2d 158 (1994)
  • State v. Smith, 93 P.3d 877 (2003 Wash. App.)
  • State v. Haley, 665 P.2d 1375 (1983 Wash. App.)
  • State v. Bonebright, 2002 Wash. App. LEXIS 1487
  • State v. Myles, 903 P.2d 979 (1995)

Peter Stec
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  1. I’m very “late” joining this discussion, but it has been mentioned that belt carry for a fixed blade, is not considered concealed in most Washington state locations (excluding the outright prohibition in Seattle.) . Would this still be the case, if during the summer you had a shirt that was not tucked in, covering the belt sheath? What about during the winter, when a jacket is required to cover one’s belt, and consequently, one’s sheath?

  2. is it legal for me to carry a folding knife which is 3.5 inches, in my pocket?

    1. My understanding is that it will depend upon whether you live within the city limits of a city or not. Usually, it is the local city ordinances that get you. And they all vary. The city that I live in, has a rather restrictive law that deems anything 3 inches or larger, as illegal. Some cities have a 3.5 inch limit. Sometimes, it cannot actually be a full 3.5 inches to be legal. I purposely acquired a knife with a blade of 2.95 inches, to stay below the full 3 inch threshold requirement of my city. If you live within the city limits of a city, you will need to check the local ordinances online, to be sure. I believe that others have indicated that there are no length requirements at the state level itself.

  3. Is it ok to have my machete in between the center console and my driver seat? I have there for protection and intimidation because of crazy people in downtown and at work. My dad says I would be arrested for it though.

    1. Best answer would come from the local LEo’s, ask at the police station to be sure. sadly from county to county in WA, the laws and enforcements are not consistent, even in neighboring counties

    2. It seems like that would be difficult to wield in the confined of a car.

  4. I don’t see how anyone could carry any weapon, knife, etc., openly in WA State when, “It is also illegal to carry or display a dagger, sword, knife, or other cutting or stabbing instrument in a manner or under circumstances that would cause alarm or show an intent to intimidate another. In 1994, in State v. Spencer, the Supreme Court of Washington held that there must be a sufficient basis for the alarm, such that a reasonable person would be alarmed. Also in 1994, the Court held, in State v. Byrd, that because the display of a weapon in a manner that caused reasonable fear or alarm could be done without intent, *a violation of the statute did not require intent.* This means that one does not have to intend to cause alarm or fear in order to be guilty of a crime under the statute.”

    If “intent” isn’t even necessary to allow the Peelers to throw you in the back of the black maria just because some overwrought liberal cat lady, who’d drank half a box of El Cheapo, and soiled her yoga pants at the sight of the buck knife hanging from your belt, I fail to see how you could carry anything openly (or you’re taking a big risk depending how sane the people are around you). We truly live in an “anarcho-tyranny” as Sam Francis coined it and it only seems to get worse. Only your everyday thug and Antifa terrorist will be carrying weapons and the latter with full blind eye of the police as they’re ordered to “stand down” by the various PC mayors.

    Remember what happened to that poor, old deaf Indian wood carver in Seattle a few years back, shot by some overzealous Seattle robocop because he was crossing a street carving on a piece of wood. They fired that cop but I wouldn’t be surprised he got another robocop job somewhere else.

    I’m surprised to see you can’t even protect yourself in your backyard in WA State.

    One question though, does having a concealed weapon permit cover concealed legal knives in WA State?

    1. Is it illegal to carry a knapp sport saw ! For protection in the state of Washington

  5. I have an SOG knife that I’m wanting to sell. I live in Washington State, and I haven’t been able to find anything about whether or not it’s okay to sell a knife via private party. Some help, please.

    1. As long as it isnt a switchblade youre fine …I have even seen knives for sale on Craigslist in the collectable section

  6. So is it illegal to own a fully functional sword cane if it’s used for decor in your house?

    1. I think this answers your question (from above): It is legal to own a disguised knife, such as a lipstick or belt buckle
      I suppose that as act in the fashion of a “butterfly knife” or similar and a spring doesn’t release the blade in someway, like a switch blade, a sword cane would be alright. I’d have to reread all these statutes again to figure out if it would be legal to carry in public.

      There are knives similar, to switch blades, in which the blade is initially drawn out of the handle by the force of your thumb but then a spring takes over to complete the opening. There are also knives that are designed in such a way that a catch catches on the edge of your pocket and withdrawals the blade as it comes out of the pocket.

    2. I asked a desk sergeant at Spokane PD that question. The answer I received was that as long as the blade was under 24″ and had a single edge, it was fine to carry.

    1. You can own it and enjoy it in your home just not carry it in “public”

  7. So a knife on your belt in summer is ok, but come fall or evening or that matter, you slip on a jacket . . .? should we go for a sheath around our calves? Kind of wild west isn’t it?

    1. I don’t see anything on this thread regarding a cane sword. How about some old geezer in a park who has a sword built into his walking cane.
      Is he in deep doo-doo if some punks come along and try to accost or rob him and he pulls his sword out to poke some holes in the punks?

    2. @Geezer Man: No, “Conceal carry and display laws do not apply to those who are… defending themselves against a presently threatened use of unlawful force.”

  8. I cant believe the BS I read on here tonight! Ignorance is not bliss .
    At a time in history there were no laws about weapons, guns or knifes. Then some idiot did something stupid and caused alarm to the powers to be, to make a law forbidding or limiting its use. The 6 foot blade law in Seattle, comes from having a mental disabled man at rush hour in downtown Seattle with a huge Asian sword /blade that he had been caring for several days before he went unhinged, and started attacking people, with the news cameras on air, live. I can say i don’t think he was a liberal. And bitching about the laws that were made to protect you and your family from people who will and could harm the ones you care about or keep you from killing yourself or each other. is just so stupid. I am liberal and I’m all for being self armed and think everybody should be able to buy a gun/weapon as long as that goes for everybody. NOT just you and Conservative friends but everybody else. the Good,bad,young, old, the dangerous, the unstable, the evil , and every race, and both sexes. The Liberal left does not make laws to keep you down, they make reactionary laws. Its those on the conservative Right that take away the rights of others, men women children, gay, straight, black, brown ,white, Sorry but the Liberals cant be giving everything away AND taking your right away at same time. .. =

  9. so just to be clear; you ARE allowed to carry knives in public, just not concealed; in your pocket, in a hidden knife-pouch, whatever. on your belt is fine. No one is saying that merely owning or carrying a knife intimidates people.

    and if someone is intimidated by a gun openly displayed on your hip, let them go somewhere else. or even come up and have a civil conversation with you, and learn something in the process, so they’re not so scared of gun owners in the future.

    Also, I agree that if you have a conceal carry for a gun that should cover knives.

    However, pointing fingers at one political side or another gets us right where we are; divided, unable to stand, russia’s play-thing. E pluribus unum, my friends.

    1. Read some of the case laws you don’t need to intimidate someone they just need to feel intimidated and in seattle a toothpick could do that. The laws are vague and impossible to really understand here. But when you have people in office that are afraid of everything a person might own this is the kind of laws you get.

  10. So my question hasn’t been answered that I can find…. I’m a new vendor for events, like rodeos and street fairs. Do I need to check id on people before selling them a knife? And what age do I need to require? Or am I free to sell it to anyone?

    1. Hey Nathan;
      Good question – however, the answer can only come from an approved source (like city hall or an attorney in the state of Washington). Local laws are often different (and ever-changing) than state laws, and when it comes to a serious issue like this, it’s best to get official info from a local certified source.

  11. How do the laws work at ren faires? I have been to many types of faires where multiple people are carrying around dirks, daggers, axes and a variety of swords……..personally, I haven’t a problem with such an environment but isn’t that still breaking the law?

    1. Hey Ray;
      Thanks for the question. I don’t have a super good answer, but I do know this: it depends on which fair in which state. Some cops/security let you carry stuff while at other fairs, they only allow performers to have such weapons and then they can only unsheath their weapon at specific times for a limited amount of time and then package the swords/knives very securely in the car trunk for the trip home. You’d have to ask the actual fair organizer.

    2. These knife laws are bizarre. I never understood the logic.

      It’s legal to carry most any handgun concealed, but most knives can’t be carried concealed?

      By what logic would a 15 round semi-auto .45 be reasonable but a 5″ folding knife NOT ok to carry concealed? A knife has very many uses, many of which have nothing to do with defense. And carrying concealed seems the best way to carry them.

      I remember when CPL was called CWP in WA. And specifically said Concealed Weapon Permit.

      Why the change?

  12. This is so annoying, literally anything could kill someone, a rock on the street, a belt someone hands. I just want to carry a knife

    1. But a person casually carrying a rock will not scare the shit out of another person like a knife would, assuming the rock isn’t being used to murder someone. Weapons displayed make people uneasy. It’s best to not carry one, in my humble opinion, if your neighborhood is safe. If at harm, you can try to run away and call the police.

    2. The conservatives are those who actually live terrorized by life, by everything and everyone, which is why they stockpile weapons of war, and have a need to pack knives concealed everywhere on their obese, stinky bodies.

    3. Hey Nutty Professor! Let’s not resort to name-calling! The more you act with diplomacy, the further you’ll get. This is just a comment that shows anger and bias. Not good bro!

  13. I sometimes make custom weapons and armor. All of which are novelty of course and never recommended for practical use. Does this make some of my clients and I on the wrong side of the law? And where can I find something on using Spikes instead of blades for my mechanical devices? Ilegal Art! Hahaha!


  14. Honestly, all I want to do is carry a fixed blade (under 3.5”) with a larger/longer handle as my EDC. I’m not a fan of any folders and find that OTF knives aren’t practical . I’ve moved to WA when I was younger from CT and all I’ve noticed since being out here is that the average person is a baby.

    The laws for knives out here basically state if you carry anything (concealed carry gun aside), someone could have you arrested because they’re not a fan of you holding. People are so soft; either allow knives with clear restrictions, or don’t allow any at all. You’re putting someone’s future in the hands of some ultra-sensitive mouth-breather who is offended by the color of a street sign ONLY because they care about what other people think of them.

    1. I agree Nick! The problem is that, unfortunately, the more liberal mentality runs straight up the West coast from Southern California, right up to Vancouver Island, Canada. For sensible laws, you’ll have to look at middle America (Tornado Alley) from Texas to Minnesota. Not sure why that is, but I’m just the messenger!
      Take care my friend!

    2. if you wear it on the outside of our belt, you are ok

  15. These laws are out of control, if you have a concealed carry for a pistol, it should cover a knife as well. We are no long land of the free, we are land of the over regulated

    1. This doesn’t answer my question at all. What age can a person legally own a knife. You can tell me as a father, I can give my 5 yr old a knife. It be legal because he isn’t carrying it in a harmful way

    2. Land of the over regulated and home of the cowards.

    1. When I spoke to my local court system about it, seeing as I owned one, I showed him my knife (he was willing to come out to my truck to see it), and he told me it was fully legal to EDC. I’d check with your local court, if there is one. Yes, I know I’m a year late.


  16. I hate this. When I was 40 and strong as an ox I could carry a knife on an airplane. Now I have arthritis in both hands, can’t open a bag of chips, and am a criminal if I carry a knife. Carry a folder, bad hands. Had a friend make a coustom fixed blade. He would have made an 18” Bowie but I asked for a 3.5” drop point, Elk horn scales, pancake sheath, secure on horse back, perfect for eating an apple. Makes me a criminal in Seattle. Oh, I voted straight democratic ticket. I sometimes strap a kbar over my right hip when camping. Guess I’ll quit, don’t want to intimidate anyone.

    1. I hear you man. The world has changed! In spite of the results of many studies showing that those who wish to harm another person (gang members, enraged citizens or serial killers) are the ones that will obtain a weapon illegally and use it no matter the laws, and law-abiding citizens who would not harm anyone, are forced to give up their knives/guns, the laws still continue to harm good people, and have no effect on bad people. Neither political party is perfect, but the Dems stand for everything exactly the opposite to what I believe (tough weapons laws, pro-abortion, anti-traditional family, etc.). It’s almost like they read every page of the Holy Bible and then specifically tried to do everything the opposite to the principles and commands in the Book!! That’s my soapbox for today!

    2. This is more towards Josh’s comment, all of these laws are dumb… and that is the true rub. See what you talk about Dems being the exact opposites of your beliefs is a misnomer…. You believe in Freedom that shouldn’t be infringed upon, same here. The only difference is that you seem to think that other peoples freedoms should be infringed upon as they aren’t what you are interested in. The truth of the matter is Democrats represent freedom from religious and life choice percussion while Republicans represent the freedom to protect oneself. That is the true issue. There are people like me that believe that people have the choice to live how they want while it doesn’t impact my life. I see very little difference between divorce, adultery, fornication, coveting something, and same sex relationships. If you participate in any one of those things, you have no right to forbid others from doing likewise. And at the same time I believe that when you aren’t allowed to defend yourself you will lose freedoms as well. So, do I vote for the group that denies my freedom to protect myself but gives a type of freedom to others that have been persecuted; or do I vote for the group that would remove peoples freedoms to choose what type of life they want to live but allow them to carry a tool to protect themselves (mostly as there have been several laws in the past that targeted removing guns from minorities but I think we are almost past that). That is my soap box for today.

    3. Hey Ben;
      Thanks for taking the time to write – I really do appreciate it. Having said that, I have a hard time following your reasoning. You see, I’m not all about “freedom shouldn’t be infringed upon”. While I don’t think an evil dictatorship is a good thing, I also don’t see freedom on this earth per se, as a virtue to be sought after with blood and fury. I try with God’s grace to live my life based on Biblical principles which do not talk about earthly freedoms as a virtue. Most populations through history have lived as slaves to someone, and that’s not condemned in scripture. Democrats typically do have policies directly opposed to scriptural principles (that’s not my opinion, it’s actually a fact), but that’s a whole different topic altogether. In my entire life, I have not participated in any of the issues you mentioned (ie. divorce, adultery, fornication, gay marriage, etc.) though I did covet in my younger years to be sure, and I continue to struggle with sin to this day. Even looking at a woman lustfully means I have committed adultery already with her in my heart – according to scripture! However, my own sins disgust me and I do not celebrate them, but instead, I fall on my face daily (yes, literally) before God and ask for His forgiveness and grace which He freely gives to those who ask. Ultimately I don’t care much about freedoms to carry guns and knives as much as the freedom to worship my God. If that freedom is taken away from me (as I feel it will be in the next 30 years or so), I will continue to practice that God-given freedom and mandate in spite of the potentially horrific consequences of doing so!
      blessings bro!

  17. Concealed carry is illegal without a CCW regardless of the weapon. Open carry is perfectly fine as long as your weapon isn’t displayed in such a way that could be perceived as a reasonable threat. A knife on your hip is perfectly fine. Same with the boot. Where’d you run into trouble is your location. I’d probably avoid Seattle if you plan on open carrying a weapon.

    1. So then I can carry a Gerber MkII on my belt if I stay out of Libtard utopias? Who knew?

  18. So..what is the True conclusion to Washington State?

    1.) All conceal carry is illegal. (and)
    2.) Open carry is “possibly” legal, so long an no one is offended by it?

    1. Nope! Because if you have a conceal carry pistol license, you can conceal carry a pistol

  19. so let me get this right, you can walk around with a 1.5 foot bowie knife where everyone can see it and it will still be legal?

    1. No. While you could legally walk around with a .50 Desert Eagle openly carried on your belt without any permit, if you are carrying a 4″ paring knife, you would be arrested.

    2. Not entirely. While you can openly carry it, there’s nothing to prevent an overly sensitive person from freaking out and calling the cops on you because you scare them by exercising your right. Several years ago, there was an indigent native American woodcarver with some mental health issues shot and killed by Seattle Police because people felt threatened as he walked down the street openly carrying a tool of his trade. With his naturally impaired cognitive skills, he really “didn’t get it” when the cops rolled up on him and started yelling at him to drop the knife. It ended with the man being killed. So be careful about where you carry openly. Check the laws in the towns and cities here before you make your decision. Trust me, while I work in one county, the laws in those cities are far different than they are in the next county north.

  20. Unless there is a new law that I am not aware of I would like to make a correction that it IS legal to own a switch blade/type knife but not legal to carry/conceal/possess in public regardless of concealed or not. “Own” and “Possess” are two different things.

    1. Incorrect.

      Springblade knives as defined under the RCW signed into law in 2012, are currently considered to be auto knives.
      Assisted openers like a benchmade that I own don’t fall under that category therefore are legal to possess and transport within state boundaries. That doesn’t mean you won’t run afoul of idiotic municipal laws that conflict with state law.

    2. So, let’s say I wish to carry a 6″ or 7″ Smith and Wesson knife in a sheath on my belt, is that illegal?

  21. According to our WA State Constitution
    SECTION 24 RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.

    1. Does this mean militias are illegal in WA? Wouldn’t the US Constitution on Militias override this?

  22. My rights are non negotiable, anyone using any “law” or other excuse to try to infringe upon them deserves to be resisted and defeated with whatever force is nessicary. Anyone disagreeing does not belong in America.

    1. I’m not seeing anything in a quick glance at state law, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss something. I know Seattle has a specific ordinance requiring you to be 18. I would be surprised if any retailer sold to a minor just out of caution (and liability insurance premiums).

      In Seattle, a custodial parent or guardian may provide you a knife before you turn 18–just ask them to buy it for you.

    2. It’s safe to assume you’d be expected to have ID on your if you’re over 18. There’s no law about that I know of but I remember being a teenager and a hardware store owner actually blocked me buying a pellet gun because he thought I wasn’t old enough.
      Around that time laws had recently been added to require a certain age for pellet guns, which I was over and had cash in hand.

    3. Depends on city and county mostly. Though, you did ask this 4 years ago. Since then 594 and 1639 (93?) have both been implemented , so looking those up might help establish a legal age.

      Also, you need to be careful of the child protective laws here too. Certain public welfare offices get really bent the hell out of shape when you teach a 9 year old how to use a kitchen knife, let alone give them a pocket knife at that age. For a fact, when I managed a convieneince (sic) store in the back side of Graham in Peirce county, policy was nobody under the legal drinking age could buy a pocket knife, and we had dozens on display but kept under lock and key and away from easy reach.

  23. I think it’s extremely bullshit to illegalize conceal carry a knife while it’s in the sheath especially if you are wearing snow pants like me. Only I don’t carry a knife around. Knifes are a last resort when your weapon runs out of bullets or in odd cases if the weapon jams and the only thing you have that don’t need bullets are a knife.

    1. Once more, knives have not been really meaningful as a weapon (except in military usage) for a long, long time. A knife is a tool, not a weapon. Do you know what a weapon is? A weapon is a tool that is used with evil intent, except in self defense. A guy in Phoenix went to a pawn shop and asked to see a knife. The clerk said she didn’t have a key. He then picked up a circular saw and asked if he could test it. He pulled the guard back, ran it up to speed and stuck it in his neck. you do not need a gun to kill or commit suicide. It is not the fault of an inanimate object, but the intent of the person wielding it.

  24. Guess if I ever hunt in Washington I’ll have to clean with a sharp hatchet. I might accidentally intimidate a liberal commie and get into trouble if I use a knife.

    1. Only if you cross the cascade curtain to the west. Stay in the eastern, more sensical and conservative side, and you should be fine.

  25. Liberal commie democrat sobs. Wtf? No exemptions for hunting or camping? Scumbags.

    Came here because I wanted to know the maximum legal lenth knife I could carry while hunting in Washington but I guess I cant even carry a knife at all because it is illegal to conceal it and if I open carry it while hunting and run into a commie liberal who is hikeing or whatever and they are “intimidated” then I just broke the law.

    Idiots! Never trust a liberal to write a law!

    Also a resident of Washington cant practice knife throwing or swordsmanship in their own backyard under these laws…because if their neighbor is “intimidated” unintentionally they just broke the law.

    So if a martial artist is practicing sword form or cutting in his or her backyard and the neighbor wants to get him into trouble he is screwed? Commie scumbags!

    1. As a liberal, commie, pinko PROGRESSIVE!!! I can assure you, you have nothing to fear from us! Rest calm. Watch your back when around conservatives however.

    2. As a liberal martial artist in the suburbs, My daughter and I & family friends regularly train in the back yard with no problems. (Including knife throwing. No spin for the win!) As a hiker and former camper (I am now old) I can assure you that regular campers and hikers – no matter whom they voted for – will not be frightened or otherwise bothered by a camper, hiker, or hunter carrying a big blade openly.

      As for somebody somewhere complaining, the laws imply a reasonable person should be considered when determining if a behavior – such as open carry – is threatening or not. *However* cops will often act on complaints about that behavior and might charge you. The local courts may or may not consider it a criminal act. Note that I am not a lawyer, but I would say you’re OK in a camping / hunting environment. Any LEO in the area will likely be country boys and girls, and dismiss normal behavior for the circumstances.

      I agree that ambiguous and contradictory laws are a pain in the backside. I am awaiting a background check for the purchase of a Glock, so I can conceal carry that in places like Seattle where a reasonable knife carry is not legally possible.

      Guess I’ll toss a quick political comment in here, too. Many conservatives think being cruel means they’re tough. Many liberals think being timid means they’re compassionate. They’re both wrong.

  26. I was informed that the city of Seattle had a city ordinance prohibiting the carrying of any concealed weapon over six feet in length. Since this sounds ridiculous, and I have been questioned on it, I would like to know how this is cited in the City Ordinances.

    1. Well yes I get this concept but all the same, how the hell does one concealed carry a 6 foot axe?

  27. i used to live in washington and im going back up for christmas and i was looking this up because i wanted to know if id get in trouble for carrying my pocket knife because where i currently life the law is anyone can legally carry a pocket knife if the blade is 3.5 inches or shorter

    1. There is no length limit in state law. Many cities have a length limit. It depends on where exactly you are going this christmas and what knife you want to carry

  28. I live in an apartment building in Seattle, Recently the fire department was at our complex for a medical call, At the time I was caring my “Cold Steel, 39LSF Leatherneck” on my belt and not concealed. One of the firemen came up to me and told me that I should conceal “that pig sticker” before a police officer see’s it, because it is illegal to carry. It was kind of a shock being that I was caring it like I would if I was out camping. I also said that I have a concealed permit, and he said that the permit is only for hand guns. I also observed a guy with a hand gun holstered (not concealed) walking around FredMeyers without anyone saying a thing, so are they saying that I could walk around a public store with a unconcealed hand gun but not a unconcealed knife in a sheath ??? (What is this world coming to ?)

    1. There is an ordinance in Seattle prohibiting carry of fixed blade knives regardless of length (SMC 12A.14.080 B “Dangerous Knives”). Exemption for immediate occupational use or if you keep it in a toolbox or tool roll. Everything the firefighter told you is correct. Not to say it’s logical, mind you, but the constitution does not require the law to be logical. Also see court case Seattle v. Montana 1996. (Montana is a surname, not the state.) Get a nice folder (under 3.5″, also a city ordinance).

  29. Check out the last sentence . Any Idea?

    RCW 9.41.250
    Dangerous weapons—Penalty.
    (1) Every person who:
    (a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slung shot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife;
    (b) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon; or
    (c) Uses any contrivance or device for suppressing the noise of any firearm unless the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law,
    is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
    (2) “Spring blade knife” means any knife, including a prototype, model, or other sample, with a blade that is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, or any knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement. A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.
    [2012 c 179 § 1; 2011 c 13 § 1; 2007 c 379 § 1; 19

    1. The last sentence is a clarification on what constitutes a ‘spring blade knife’. It specifically defines one as NOT being a ‘spring blade’ if the spring/detent or other mechanism is there to keep it open (lock back) once already opened. Basically, anything that is there to keep a knife blade closed is OK, but it is NOT legal to have something that will assist OPENING the blade.

  30. My wife and I sold knives and swords in the shop we had in the Yard Bird mall. A very popular type of knife right now is the assisted opening knife. We had several that had the assisted opening feature as well as a seat belt cutter and window breaker. Various models were specified for police, fire, medical, military and so forth. When i was a deputy sheriff in Arizona, I would have loved to have such a tool, as it can be opened with one hand (valuable in many emergency situations). I think we need to urge our legislators to revisit the assisted opening style of edged pocket tool.

    1. Current state law permits assisted openers, since July 2012

  31. What About pocket knives? I was told You could carry them if the blade wasnt longer than your four fingers. So would they be illegal to carry???

    1. There is no specific length limit in state law. Many, many cities do have length restrictions. These are always given in inches. If a police officer tries the four finger rule, ask him to call a supervisor with larger hands. 😉 They need to use a ruler. I haven’t seen a length limit smaller than 3″ in the three counties around Seattle. It’s pretty easy to check the law in your city or county.

  32. It is better to be alive than an unprepared victim.
    Bottom line is you still have the right to defend yourself, legally or otherwise.

    1. In theory, yes. But there is no statewide pre-emption of knife laws. You may not carry a KA-BAR in Seattle, for instance, open or concealed. (Like you can conceal that sucker…) There may be any number of other local laws that bite you in the a$$. Research, research, research!

  33. What defines “alarm” in this use, because that is a very vague term in this case. Just possessing a knife like a balisong or a throwing knife would cause some alarm to people who aren’t accustomed to it or find carrying weapons wrong and could easily lead to an arrest whether or not any intent whatsoever was shown. And what about concealment? Does a waistband style sheath count as concealed? (I personally prefer pockets but if concealing them in public is a crime then I’m wondering if a sheath counts as “concealment”)

    1. Alarm can probably be considered pretty loosely. Depends on judge/ jury I guess. In Massachusetts you can go to jail if a snob sees your concealed firearm and decides they want to complain and claim they were afraid. I think it is a similar case but it could also be “reasonable alarm” which might mean you would have to be a minority or have a tattoo or something (only half kidding). If people can see the sheath it is not concealed. With two caveats; they must be able to recognize it as a sheath to a knife. Also, another article on this site mentioned that not being able to see the handle was concealed- not sure if it was only in that state though.

    2. It’s incredibly subjective and I can hardly wait for some very rich person with a good lawyer to get busted for it and get this cleared up. I will say that I have never seen anyone exhibit “alarm” with a knife of mine, even in lefty Seattle. Just be cool, OK?

    3. Thank you for the info on assisted opening. I was told by a Centralia PD officer that assisted opening knives were illegal in Washington, just as if they were switchblades. Cost us a lot of sales.

  34. my butterfly knife has a latch that you must undo before you can use it. Is it still illegal?

    1. According to a video put out by, which is sort of an NRA for knife laws, balisongs are illegal in the UK, Canada, the US and the Philipines. They are fighting to get stupid knife laws repealed. They should be like Arizona, which has no knife laws, and knives are covered by a Concealed Weapon Permit. Knife owners are urged to join Knife Rights, and join the fight against really stupid, obsolete, and irrelevant knife laws.

    2. The latch makes no difference. I don’t think state law lets you have that, latch or no latch, but I am not a lawyer.

    3. Balisong knives are illegal in just about every place is my understanding. The latch is a necessary part of the knife, to keep it from opening until you want it to.

  35. So with my Wa State carry permit, I can carry a 44 Mag under my jacket, but not an automatic knife?

    1. Correct. You are issued a concealed pistol license in Washington, not a concealed weapon permit such as what Idaho issues.

    2. No, there is no concealed Weapon Permit in Washington. You have a Concealed Pistol License, as stated on the license itself.

  36. What about balisongs in washington state? are those legal to own or carry or what?

    1. Yes they are. I own one myself, and actually use it fairly often at work.

    2. You’re 100% sure of this? ” or with a blade that opens, falls, or is ejected by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal movement (spinning the knife).” doesn’t include balisongs? I really hope not because I want to carry my new alphabeast

    3. I wouldn’t carry one. Well, I would, because I’m stupid that way, but I’d be certain I was committing a gross misdemeanor every minute I was doing so….

  37. If you were to openly carry a recurve bow, and possibly a dozen throwing knives in a wrist sheath and leg sheath. Would that be illegal? I think so but I can’t be sure

    1. I think you are trolling here. Why are you carrying all that?

  38. I would not refer to an “ordinary” slip joint pocket knife as a weapon should one be stopped. If the police officer asks “are you armed?”, the response is “no, but I do have a pocket knife that I carry as a too”. You might be asked to surrender it while you are talking to the cop, but it will be returned, and if you are charged, you, and the cop, will be able to say “it’s not a weapon”.

    1. They have gone to Hell with a joke. I am 69 years old and have carried a knife since I was 5 years old and living on a farm in Indiana. In those days and that place, whittling was a skill every boy had to learn. In addition, you can sharpen pencils (the term pen knife refers back to the days of quill pens, which had to be cut occasionally to use as a pen), clean fingernails, use when fishing or hunting. It was a strange boy back then who did not have a pocket knife, but now they kick kids out of school for a simple pocket knife. A knife is a tool, nothing more or less.

    2. And I wish that kids were encouraged to learn those skills today, but, we aren’t. I live in a smallish west coast city, went to a pretty good high school, and only had room to take one practical elective – I chose drafting – and I wish like hell that I’d had more exposure to crafts. The local scout troop wasn’t worth much at cub level, all the awkwardness with none of the outdoor adventure. I was terribly shy and dropped out after less than a year.

      If you’re so concerned about kids losing the ability to handle tools safely (I can sympathize), then please, get involved in your local school board! Debate, compromise, think hard about what skills give children the most value, and keep pushing everyone else in your community to really think about it as well!
      Please help the next generation learn how to fend for themselves and help others at a younger age than I did!

    3. I never refer my pocket knife as a weapon. I refer to it as a cutting tool. Tool is the keyword.

    1. Knife laws can be defined by the state since there is no federal say against it, also counties/cities can define as well so no its not wrong and no this is the US, a country within the continent America

    2. Switchblades are generally a shitty knife. The blade might be double sided but no thought put into practicality. What I mean is that they are designed to be opened quickly for some retard with a sharp pointed blade meant only for piercing or stabbing. There are far better knives with schraded edges or hooks for cutting wood or gutting fish that are (like trucks) more practical than switchblades (that are impractical like sport-cars.)

  39. i am a knife collector and do not have a switchblade in my collection and find this law in wash.state to be idiotic.anyone can get a gun on any street corner in any city but you cant have a spring blade knife???

    1. “anyone can get a gun on any street corner in any city”

      Wrong. There are laws concerning the types of firearms that can be legally purchased and owned (for instance, there is no free commerce in NFA Class III weapons – such trade is tightly regulated) and “anyone” cannot “get a gun” legally; felons and others are considered “prohibited persons” who are not allowed to possess firearms. (You are certainly talking about legal transfers. If not, then it would also be true that “anyone can get a knife – of any kind – on any street corner in any city,” so long as you’re considering illegal knives and illegal transfers as well. But you’re not, because your premise – which is correct – is that there are laws covering the legal ownership and transfers of knives, while imagining that such rules don’t apply to firearms. They do.)

      Additionally, since the passage of I-594, private sales of legal firearms between legal owners requires a background check. So your statement was wrong with respect to certain firearms and certain purchasers, and is now generally wrong for all types of firearms transfers in Washington State.

      The point is that there are laws covering the possession and transfer of both knives and firearms, and it’s wrong to think that firearms are not regulated in a manner very similar (including nonsensical and illogical laws) to knives.

    2. Im pretty sure he meant anyone can illegally get a gun on any street corner..which would be almost correct

    3. Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as they say. “Any street corner” is an exaggeration in any city in America, and his comparison of legal knives with illegal guns is dishonest anyway!

    4. As I pointed out, if he was comparing legal knife ownership to illegal gun acquisition and ownership, the comparison is unfair and is pointless (it doesn’t make sense to discuss the burdens imposed on a legal activity – knife collection – by complaining that others conduct another activity – illegal firearms sales – without similar burdens). If he was comparing legal knife ownership to legal firearms ownership, he was wrong. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he at least was trying to make sense, and just happened to be wrong, rather than considering that he was not just wrong, but being nonsensical too.

  40. These laws go against the right to keep and especially BEAR arms. That they have stood for so long illustrates the way that the Left has corrupted the courts with liberal activist judges.

    1. You are very right i im no adult but I do know my rights and I Belive carring a switch blade is no different than any other knife as long as you know how to keep it out of others harm

    2. The idea that that some weapons are “bad” because certain types of “bad” people use them (like 1930s gangsters used Tommy guns), and that their possession and use can be prevented by laws (to which only the law-abiding adhere), is a sad one that goes back a long time.

    3. The constitution has been null and void for at least 100 years.

  41. 9.41.250 says a knife with “bias toward closure” is not a “spring blade knife”. This means that assisted openers are specifically legal. (New law, in effect July 2012)

    1. What about a karambit,that is a folder?
      Can I put it in my pocket? Or do I have to display it somehow? Is the clip on the outside of my pocket enough?

    2. Does it fold? I’ve seen karambits that fold and that are fixed. State law doesn’t care. Seattle hates fixed blades, though, and who knows which of the other hundreds of laws you might be breaking…there’s no pre-emption! If the local law prohibits concealed carry, then the visible clip should be good enough.

    3. If I recall there is still a legal fixed blade or sheathed blade length for legal carry of 3.5″ and this is open carry.

    4. Don’t know what jurisdiction you’re talking about here. Seattle generally prohibits the carry of a fixed blade knife. No distinction is made whether open or concealed. There are occupational exemptions and for hunting/fishing. SPD is quite happy to bust people for it, too. Two state supreme court challenges have failed to loosen this prohibition. (It should be noted that both of these cases involved idiots claiming a 2A right to carry around a paring knife which the courts ruled was not a weapon protected by 2A. Now, if you want to try this with a “real” knife and not a bit of improvised kitchenware, I’m sure we can get a legal defense fund up for you.)

      Remember ALWAYS that logic is not a necessary component of the law

      See CIty of Seattle vs Montana (1996) and Seattle vs Evans (2015)

      Folding knives in Seattle are limited to 3.5″, whether open or concealed. There is no specific length limit in state law, fixed or folding, which is unfortunately not preemptive.

      (I am not a lawyer. Do not trust me. You have a responsibility to look this stuff yourself as part and parcel of being a free and informed citizen. If you see something you don’t like, please contact your elected representatives and complain to them. That’s what we pay them for!)

  42. I know the blade length issue is a city of Seattle code/law, not a state law.
    So on top of state laws, there are local county and city laws to contend with as well.

    1. Seattle has a city ordinance that prohibits concealed weapons of six feet in length. Does that give you an idea of the brain power of politicians?

    2. You wanna cite the code there? I can’t find it. All I see is no fixed blades, no folders longer than 3.5″

  43. I drive a Truck from NC to CA, sometimes to WA, using I-40 for northern CA or I-20 for southern CA. These two interstates cross many states so, Im reading state by state.

    I’ve seen the word “Alarm” more then once, as in causing others “alarm”.. Websters dictionary defines alarm as a few things including “sudden sharp apprehension and fear resulting from the perception of imminent danger”.

    My question:
    What if a person in Washington State, seeing my knife legally open carried, and has not taken their prescription Prozac medication and feels “alarmed” ? Am I at fault?

    1. In this crazy state, the answer is probably, yes Frank.

    2. Crazy or filled with a bunch pussified smile and talk shit about you behind your back type of sin-tax loving democrat maniacs who never seen a stop sign or a red light in their life.

    3. I used to take Prozac and I still take other anti-depressants, but I personally find 0 alarm in a knife. If I saw someone with a knife I’d be more inclined to inquire about it because I am a weapon collector and enthusiast.
      Although I find this same problem, I don’t know what “Alarm” would entail or “concealment” because I might have it in a sheath or holster of some sort (holster referencing sheaths that resemble a gun holster, not a literal holster)

    4. What if you are a martial artist and are practicing sword forms in your own backyard or giving a private lesson and your neighbor is a communist dickhead? Yes you can aparently be arrested for this or practicing knife throwing in your backyard! This is why people should never vote for liberals!!!

    5. For the love of liberty, PLEASE stop being paranoid!
      Actually, you’d be on private property, and your own to boot, so you’d have a very strong case that they were infringing on your rights more than you were on theirs. Many of my friends practice martial arts, collect weapons, LARP, and otherwise swing “dangerous-looking” objects around. None of them have ever gotten in trouble with the police about this, even when having airsoft battles within a few miles of the biggest prison in the south sound region, where our state capitol is. They did, of course, call to inform the prison admins of what they’d be doing in advance.

      Most of my friends have been independent-to-liberal from the start, but all of them, even the ones who used to vote republican, have turned Democrat in disgust at the hypocrisy, corporate toadying, bigotry, and callousness that now drive every trend in the Republican Party.
      And even if what you said were true, I’d say it’s a lesser evil than allowing reckless corporations to screw over the entire economy and environment.

      Please, never vote for conservatives.
      Convincing liberals to do the right thing is much, much easier.

    6. liberals haven’t done one thing right ever so how are you going to convince them to change.

    7. Unh, no. There is at least one city (I don’t recall which offhand) in this country where it is legal to own a firearm and keep it in your home, but you cannot have it on your person in your yard, or even in your (attached) garage. A court ruled that the yard and the garage were not part of the “home” in which the firearm owner could lawfully possess the gun. There is no reason why this same irrational thought process couldn’t be used against knives.

    8. But your yard and garage is also private property just as your home is which would make it legal and thus should stand for most states and cities that you can legally possess these weapons outside your home. Not to mention in most states it is also legal to discharge a firearm in your backyard if you are in county property (unless otherwise noted or near a church.)

    9. what a bunch of nonsense. You are clueless about the law.

    10. the state supreme court ruled in 2012(?) that your backyard does not qualify as “in your home”

    11. Im not being paranoid you constitution hating liberal pansey d-wad.

      Keep letting those dbags take our rights and keep lying about and insulting people who UNLIKE YOU are trying to protect our constitutional rights.

      The letter of the state law would allow law enforcement to arrest individuals for that…clearly this is unconstitutional……but keep voting in liberal hippy dippy panseys that want to disarm everyone and see how much of your rights get taken away.

      Btw if you Larped with actual swords then tachnically you violated the law whether it was enforced or not.

      Something is very wrong when I can legally carry my Glock and walk into the woods and legally take out a goose or a duck with a 10 gauge but I cant practice with a knife, sword, or a nunchuck on my own property or someone elses with permission.

      Btw Nunchucks arnt illegal in Washington but they are illegal in California.

      Stupid pc biggoted hypocritical liberal hippy dippy pansey bullcrap.

      It must be all that acid those hippy dbags chugged down to “expand their mind”.

    12. Please stop being paraniod? Oh great more of this stupid manipulative “no one wants to take your guns” bs.

      Stfu. Look at how those crappy knife laws are written in your state. Go get a liberal to change them I DARE YOU!

      You cant because they actually do want to take away our crap and dont give a crap about the constitution…but you wont vote for people who want to protect your rights because you are a brainwashed shill.

    13. They are not required by law to take their medication. “sudden sharp apprehension and fear resulting from the perception of imminent danger” sounds like paranoia and any such enforcement of this as a law is strictly Totalitarianism and should not be accepted.

  44. WHAT in the world is ‘so long as it is not carried in a way that may cause others alarm’ this could mean anything…. A fixed blade in a sheeth, folder on a clip in your pocket, a sling shot in your pocket, open carry of a firearm or concealed, someone gets a peek or even one who just wants to make an issue to cause trouble in your life. If one has a concealed permit is any of this a concern???

    1. Yes, it is incredibly subjective. Please be a rich person with a good lawyer who can get busted for this and fight it to the state supreme court. 🙂

  45. Washington states laws could be interpreted to make just about any knife illegal. Thanks for info. I always length was the major difference, but according to the article, size isn’t even mentioned.

    1. I was held at knife point for hours . He had it to my throat several times said I was going to die . I was bruised , punched , my rotator and bicept muscle torn .My bedding and bed cut to pieces , He stabbed my phone , counter tops , kitchen table , kicked my walls , washer and dryer . Destroyed mirrors dressers, pictures, and my TV . Made me take my clothes off . Well apparently in Wa. State even if your are already a convicted felon if the tip of the knife breaks off while trying to kill someone as long as its under 3 inches long . It’s not considered a deadly weapon . He walked with 7 weeks of jail time and a 5 Yr restraining order and was suppose to move to California . Justice ?

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