Switchblade Laws of the United States
The following is a comprehensive compilation of the laws on switchblades (also called automatics) in the United States. This chart covers both overall federal law and each state law. These laws are for non-law enforcement citizens, as nearly all laws contain some sort of exemption for police. In states where unlawful intent must be proven (and is not simply presumed) for the knife to be illegal, this chart counts this as "legal."
Private Ownership= Refers to the legality of merely owning a switchblade kept exclusively in the home.
Sale= The legality of merchants and private citizens offering switchblades for sale or selling them. Usually includes any transfer of ownership, even gifts. Note that such laws almost always only affect the seller; no state law affects the buyer of such a transaction.
Open Carry= legality of carrying a switchblade unconcealed and in plain view of others.
Concealed Carry= legality of carrying a switchblade in a concealed manner on one's person (or most of the time, in a car).
Balisong considered same thing?= Refers to if the wording of the law considers switchblades and balisongs to be the same thing. If "Yes," balisongs are subject to all the same restrictions as switchblades listed for that state. If "no" they are covered by a separate law and may or may not be legal. Blanks indicate the state has no laws about either.
If private ownership itself is illegal, then all others become illegal by default.
If private ownership is legal, but sale is not, it effectively becomes impossible to legally obtain a switchblade from within that state (since federal law prohibits inter-state sale). One must physically travel to another state to legally purchase.
5. California (less than 2″ blade length limitation)
6. Colorado (effective approximately Aug. 9, 2017; concealed carry maximum length 3-1/2″)
7. Connecticut (maximum 1-1/2″ blade length limitation)
11. Illinois (effective Aug. 11, 2017, with valid Firearms Owner’s Identification Card FOID)
14. Kansas (since 2013)
15. Kentucky (if at least 21 years old)
16. Louisiana (effective August 1, 2018)
17. Maine (effective October 15, 2015)
18. Maryland – can legally possess if not concealed
19. Massachusetts (maximum 1-1/2″ blade length limitation)
20. Michigan (effective October 10, 2017)
22. Missouri (since 2012)
23. Montana (maximum 1-1/2″ blade length limitation – removed 2019)
25. Nevada (effective July 1, 2015 – 2″ blade length limitation removed)
26. New Hampshire (since 2010)
27. North Dakota
28. New York – (exception for hunting, trapping and fishing – see New York Knife Laws)
29. North Carolina (concealed carry not recommended – see North Carolina Knife Laws)
30. North Dakota (maximum 5″ blade length limitation)
31. Ohio (effective April 12, 2021 – see Ohio Knife Laws)
32. Oklahoma (effective November 1, 2015)
34. Rhode Island
35. South Carolina
36. South Dakota
40. Vermont (less than 3″ blade length limitation)
41. Washington (manufacture allowed, limited possession to law enforcement and emergency personnel – see Washington Knife Laws)
42. West Virginia (must be 21 years of age)
43. Wisconsin (effective February 2016)
Check out FAQs Understanding Knife Laws
For information on the Federal Switchblade Act, click here.
Footnotes 1. Michigan's ban on Switchblades was repealed, with the law going into effect on October 10, 2017. The new law makes Possession and Sale legal, but open and concealed carry are uncertain due to the vagueness of the "other dangerous weapon" language. 2. New York's state law provides an exception for "Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting, trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license." Whether this affects sale or type of carry is unclear.
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