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Knife Laws

Knife Laws by State 2020

Certain knives are used mostly for protection, for hunting, and for handyman work.

Owning a knife is not illegal within the United States. However, each state has different regulations on the types of knives that people can have. They also explain how legal knives should be carried and used.

It is your responsibility to understand your state and local laws regarding knives. If you do not see your state on this list, follow this link to American Knife & Tool Institute for further verification


In California, the knife laws are considered some of the strictest in the country. Throughout the state, it is considered legal to purchase and carry any knife that is under two inches in length. Some other knives that are legal within the state include:

  • Bowie knives
  • Large knives (no restriction in size)

California also has a list of restricted knives that people cannot possess, buy, or use. These knives are typically above two inches in length and include:

  • Knives that cannot be detected by metal detectors
  • Misleading knives (cane knives, zobi-tsues, belt knives, pen knives, air gauge knives, and lipstick knives)
  • Dirks, stilettos, and daggers
  • Ballistic (throwing) knives


In Texas, there are two different types of knife types distinguished by the length of the blade: a simple ‘knife’ or a ‘location restricted knife.’ A knife that has a blade of 5½ inches or less is considered as the regular ‘knife’ term. A ‘location restricted knife’ is a knife with a blade above 5½ inches. As for legality concerns, people in Texas can own, carry, and purchase the following types of knives:

  • Throwing stars or any type of throwing knife
  • Dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives
  • Bowie knives
  • Swords or spears
  • Switchblade knives
  • Pocketknives
  • Balisong, or butterfly knife

As for knives that are illegal, any ‘location restricted knives’ should not be possessed or carried by people within the state.


In Florida, the law allows for people to bear certain weapons, including knives, to protect themselves from any danger they may face. However, there are certain limitations to the types of knives that can be owned by people in the state. For instance, the knives that people in Florida are freely able to own are:

  • Balisong knives
  • Belt knives, cane knives, and other disguised knives.
  • Bowie knives and other large knives
  • Throwing stars and throwing knives
  • Undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors)

Despite this freedom to own, there are specific limitations to what kind of knives people can carry with them. The knives that are acceptable for concealed carrying include:

  • Box cutters, multi-tools, and other work knives
  • Common pocketknives with a blade less than 4 inches (in some cases)
  • Knives with a blade over 4 inches for people with permits

There is one type of knife that is illegal to have throughout the state, though: ballistic knives. No one should carry, purchase, or own one of these knives or there will be serious consequences.


In Ohio, it is legal to own any type of knife. Instead of basing their laws off knife lengths, they base theirs on what is considered a “deadly weapon. By definition, a deadly weapon in this state is “any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.” In this state, people are allowed to own and carry the following types of knives:

  • Switchblades or gravity knives
  • Balisong (butterfly) knives and Balisong trainers
  • Ballistic knives
  • Dirks, daggers, or other stabbing knives
  • Bowie knives
  • Stilettos

There is only one type of limitation to concealed carry within the state: any knife that is considered a “dangerous ordnance” cannot be concealed. This statute makes it illegal to conceal carry any dangerous knife out there, which can include all the knives listed above.


In Illinois, people have the right to carry specific knives for their own protection and more. The only limit that they explicitly express is that the person carrying the knife cannot use it to harm anyone (without good reason) or to break the law. Knives that people can be owned within this state include:

  • Balisong knives
  • Disguised knives (cane knives, belt knives, and lipstick knives)
  • Throwing knives
  • Bowie knives and other large knives
  • Switchblades and other automatic knives (but only if the person has a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card)

The only types of knives that are illegal to own are:

  • Ballistic knives
  • Throwing stars
  • Switchblades
  • Knives with a button feature to open them


In Michigan, people can carry certain knives for many reasons. If people are not using certain knives for malicious intent, they can freely carry them openly and through concealment. There is a slight difference between the knives that people can own and the knives that people can carry. The knives that people can own include:

  • Butterfly knives (Balisong knives)
  • Dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other stabbing knives
  • Throwing knives and stars
  • Bowie knives and other large knives
  • Hidden knives (belt knives and lipstick knives)
  • Undetectable knives (knives that do not set off metal detectors)

The knives that people can conceal carry are:

  • Hunting knives
  • Spring-assisted knives (switchblades)
  • All other knives (besides the banned ones)

These are the types of knives that are illegal to carry in Michigan:

  • Dirks, stilettos, daggers, and other stabbing knives
  • Double-edged non-folding stabbing knives

New York

In New York, knife laws are more confusing since knives can be considered dangerous even if the person owning them has no criminal intent in mind. The only way that law enforcement can determine the true use of knives is when these cases head to court. There are only four types of knives that people are allowed to own in New York:

  • Hunting knives
  • Dirks or daggers
  • Stilettos
  • Gravity knives (except in New York City)

The following knives are illegal for any New York resident to own:

  • Metal knuckle knives
  • Ballistic knives
  • Cane swords
  • Throwing stars

Also, people who are not U.S. citizens cannot own knives. Knives that can be adapted to become weapons are also prohibited.


In Arizona, people are able to carry knives as long as they aren’t being used for criminal activities. The knives that people can possess and carry include Balisongs, bowie knives, pocketknives, switchblades, and stilettos. The only illegal actions that involve knives in this state are:

  • People not informing officers about the concealed knife when it is not a pocketknife.
  • People under 21 carrying concealed non-pocketknives.
  • People bringing knives to schools.


In Virginia, it is completely legal for people to own and carry many knives. The main types of knives include:

  • Dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knives
  • Bowie knife
  • Switchblade
  • Ballistic knife
  • Throwing stars or other throwing knives
  • Stiletto
  • Balisong (butterfly) knife

Despite this ability, there are some limitations to the types of knives people can conceal carry. In this state, it is illegal to conceal carry the following knives:

  • Dirks
  • Bowie knives
  • Switchblades
  • Ballistic knives
  • Machetes
  • Razors
  • Throwing stars
  • Oriental darts
  • Any other weapons like what is listed here


In Oregon, the laws regarding owning knives are lenient since people here can own nearly any type of knife without repercussions. The only rule that they have regarding knife ownership is that a person who has committed a felony cannot own one. The types of knives that people can own in this state include:

  • Dirks, daggers, or other stabbing knives
  • Bowie knives
  • Switchblades or other automatic knives
  • Ballistic knives
  • Gravity knives
  • Balisong (butterfly) knives and Balisong trainers
  • Stilettos

When it comes to concealed carry, the only types of knives that are prohibited are:

  • Automatic knives
  • Assisted opening knives
  • Dirks, daggers, or ice picks