US States Knife Laws

This page concerning US Knife Laws is still under construction. More States will be added soon…

A Brief Summary of California’s Knife Laws

Knives that are Illegal Under California Penal Code


Switchblades are illegal to carry in public, open or concealed. They are also illegal to sell or even give away.

(Ca Penal Code Section 17235)

Definition of a Switchblade:

The Federal Switch Blade Law – United States Code (U.S.C) Title 15, Section 29. § 1241.

A switchblade is defined as “any knife having a blade which opens automatically—

(1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or

(2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.


Balisongs with blades of more than 2 inches are illegal to carry in public. They have been grouped as a “Switch blade” (Pen Code 17235.)

Concealed Fixed Blades

Carrying a concealed dagger or dirk (or open and locked folding knife) is illegal under California Penal Code Section 21310 – 21390.

A dirk or dagger is defined by California Penal Code 16470 as:

“A knife or instrument with or without a hand guard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death

Disguised or Misleading Knives

Knives that can not be detected by metal dectectors are illegal (CA Pen Code 20810 – 20820)

Belt Knives, Lipstick Knives, Air Guage Knives, Writing Pen Knives and Cane Swords are all illegal (CA Pen Code 20310 – 20990)

Knives that are Legal in California

  • Fixed Blade Knives of any length carried openly.
  • All pocket knives of any length as long as they are carried in the closed position.
  • Assisted Openers (such as the Kershaw Speed Safe) are legal, as long as they don’t fall under the category of “Switch blade”.

Restrictions on Schools and Public Buildings

  • In K12 Schools, no blades longer than 2.5” are allowed
  • In Colleges and Universities, fixed blades longer than 2.5” are not allowed.
  • In State or Local buildings, blades longer than 4.5” are not allowed.

Folding Knives are allowed in Colleges and Universities as long as they aren’t classified as a switch blade.

To be perfectly sure of the legality of your knife, check the local town / city penal code. E.g there is a 3” blade limit in the city laws for San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles that isn’t in the State Penal Code.

Here is the search function on the Government Website.

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