People in California who wish to carry a knife may face some restrictions, classifications, numerous local ordinances, and rules on the state level. In California, Knife laws are not that friendly.
Different kinds of knives are illegal to carry, conceal, or even own. On the other hand, carrying knives openly or concealed is legal if various legislative provisions are followed.
California is one of the states that allows knife-carrying in public or private colleges and universities, but the knife length limit should not exceed from 2.5-inch. And the knife should be legally carried openly in a sheath at the owner’s belt.
Sometimes California laws may be ambiguous and contradictory. Knives laws have been changed many times.
This article may help you in clearing all your doubts regarding the knife laws in California. We’ve divided knife laws into three sections on behalf of its legality.
Table of Contents
- Law for the Switchblades
- Knives that can be carried openly but not concealed
- Knives that are totally legal
- California legal blade length
- Illegal Knives in California
- Restricted Places to carry a knife
Law for the Switchblades
In California, knife switchblades having blades more than 2-inch are illegal for carrying openly, selling, or transferring.
California Penal Code- PEN § 21510 says:
Any person who does any of the following with a switchblade knife having a blade longer than 2-inch in length is guilty of a misdemeanor:
- Possess the knife in the passenger or driver’s area of any motor vehicle in any public place or place open to the public.
- A person carries a knife in a public gathering.
- Sells or offers for sale, transfers, or gives the knife to any other person.
Switchblades are legal if they’re less than 2-inch. Moreover, Balisong or butterfly knives are kinds of switchblades. However, you can buy Balisong or Butterfly knives more than 2-inch. Beware Of keeping it in your home, not to carry it anywhere.
Penalties for breaking the rules
When you violate the laws for switchblade knives, you have to go through the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $1000
- Up to six months of a county jail
Knives that can be carried openly but not concealed
Some knives can be legally carried openly in California but cannot be concealed; that would be illegal. Some knives include:
- You can carry daggers, dirks, and stilettos openly anywhere you want; you won’t be punished for this. However, if you conceal these kinds of knives, this would be considered illegal. These knives are very dangerous and may be used for hurting people; that’s why it is illegal to conceal such knives.
- Chef’s knives, knitting needles, scissors, and ice packs are also included in Dirks and Daggers. These knives can cause serious injuries, so these knives are illegal when you conceal such knives. Moreover, you can carry such knives openly.
Penalties for breaking the law of Concealed carry
As you have known, some knives that are illegal when you conceal them. When you violate the laws for the concealed carry, you have to go through the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $1000
- Or up to twelve months in county jail.
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Knives that are totally legal
In California, some knives can be carried either openly or concealed. These knives are considered totally legal. Some knives include:
- Box Cutters
- Folding knives other than the switchblades
- Bowie knives
- Other Utility knives that are used for fishing and hunting
- All kinds of pocket knives
California legal blade length
There are no specific length limits of the knife’s blades. However, switchblade knives’ length should not be more than 2.5-inch. Except that you can carry any blade size of the knife if it is legal.
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Illegal Knives in California
In California, many knives are completely illegal. Code 16590 states commonly prohibited weapons as well as knives. In this section, you will find out some of the prohibited knives, tools, or weapons.
- A Ballistic knife which is prohibited under section 21110
- A Belt buckle knife which is prohibited under section 20410
- An Air gauge knife which is prohibited under section 20310
- A cane sword or Katana is prohibited under section 20510
- A Concealed dirk or dagger is prohibited under section 21310
- A Concealed explosive substance other than fixed ammunition is prohibited under section 19100
- A Lipstick case knife which is prohibited under section 20610
- Metal knuckles which are prohibited under section 21810
- A Nunchaku which is prohibited under section 22010
- A writing pen which is prohibited under section 20910
- A Leader cane, an instrument or weapons such as Billy, Sandbag, Sand-club, Sap, Slung-shot, or Blackjack is prohibited under section 22210
Carrying one of these knives on your purse is legally interpreted as showing criminal intent, which is punishable by law.
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To make the above information more clear, here’s a list of knives or weapons that are illegal, banned, or prohibited:
- Concealed dirks, daggers, and stilettos are banned.
- Ballistic Knives
- Gravity knives are banned.
- Metal knuckles, slung-shot, black-jack, etc., are banned.
- Switchblades and other automatic knives (more than 2-inch) are banned.
- Cane swords, lipstick knives, penknives, air gauge knives, belt buckle knives, and all other kinds of disguised knives are banned.
- Also, undetectable knives are banned.
Restricted Places to carry a knife
There are some places in which you can’t carry a knife with you. Some popular places include:
1. Schools and Universities
There are some restrictions on carrying knives in schools or universities. However, you can take a knife less than 2-inch in school or university.
California penal code section 626.10 says:
“Any person who brings or possesses any ice pick, dirk, dagger, or knife having a fixed blade longer than 2-inch within the school or university building or ground is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a country jail not exceeding 1-year.”
It is written in California penal code 626.10 that you can’t bring or possess any box cutters, dirks, ice picks, or other dangerous knives in school, kindergarten, college, or university premises.
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2. In public or state buildings
It is illegal to possess or carry a knife in any public or local state buildings. In the penal code 171b, it is clearly mentioned that carrying a knife in public or state buildings is a crime. You will be punished for that.
Penal code 171b says:
“Any person who brings or possesses knives within the state or public building is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a country jail note for not more than 1-year.”
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Carrying knives openly or concealed is legal if various legislative provisions are observed. California knife laws are a bit confusing. It is recommended to learn the legal definitions of prohibited knives.
Switchblades are legal if they’re less than 2-inch. Knife’s switchblades having blades more than 2-inch are illegal for carrying openly, selling, or transferring.
You can carry some knives openly, but if you conceal such knives, you may be charged. Moreover, some knives are totally legal and can be carried either openly or concealed.
If you are not aware of knives that are illegal to conceal or carry, then you can defend yourself if you are charged. You have to prove that you were carrying those knives without any wrong motive.