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The US is based upon federalism and, for that reason, laws are created at the federal, state, and municipal level. With regards to knife law, this makes things particularly tricky since a certain knife can be legal in one state and illegal in the next as well as legal in one county and illegal in the neighboring county. The infographic below highlights where certain knives are legal and illegal at the state level. This article goes on to explain some common misperceptions about knife law in the US.
Did you know that ballistic knives are illegal in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington? Ballistic knives are illegal on the federal level thanks to 15 USC § 1245 but federal law only applies when you are traveling between states, are on federal land (such as a federal park or in Washington D.C. or a DOD military base), or moving between countries.
These aren’t the only states buckling down on knife laws. Switchblades are also illegal in the following states: Alaska; Colorado; Delaware; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Kansas; Louisiana; Maine; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nevada; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Pennsylvania; Tennessee, and Washington. On the federal level 15 USC § 1241-1244 makes switchblades illegal as well.
Almost all states allow knives to be openly carried and it is only Georgia who limits the open carry of pocket knives to 5 inches. Note that, besides this limitation, Georgia has really nice knife laws.
Furthermore, it is also illegal to carry concealed knives that are three inches or more in Colorado, Delaware, Florida and Rhode Island. In Kansas, Montana, Missouri and Tennessee, it is illegal to carry concealed knives that are four inches and above. Idaho, Kentucky and West Virginia are three states that requires licenses to carry knives that are three inches and above.
For more details on your state’s knife laws, check out KnifeUp’s knife law guide for all 50 states. KnifeUp also has great review articles on such things as the best survival knives, best pocket knives, and best machete.