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7 Practical Legal Concerns When Carrying Concealed Knives

7 Practical Legal Concerns When Carrying Concealed Knives

Concealed Knife Law Considerations When Carrying

One of the great advantages of the Information Age is the ease and convenience of online shopping. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can have access to a world of goods, including all sorts of knives. Given the readily available bounty, low prices, and fast shipping, why not buy all the blades (and lots of OTFs)? Well, for one thing, there are laws, and some of the stipulations required by different U.S. states and municipalities may surprise you. In this piece, we’ll consider seven legal practicalities you should keep in mind when concealing a knife. One more thing: Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice, and you ought to always consult with an attorney regarding questions about the law.

What kind of knife are you planning to carry?

In general, most places will allow you to carry a pocketknife concealed on your person. However, it’s worth remembering that the definition of a pocketknife will change from state to state and perhaps even city to city depending on your area. There are two main variables to consider: the length of the blade and whether or not the blade locks.

The magic number as far as blade length goes is typically four inches with anything larger becoming a different category of knife. That’s not a universal, though. For example, in Delaware, pocketknives must have blade lengths of less than three inches in order to be legally concealed and carried. In Georgia, that number grows to a whopping 12 inches. In Illinois, you may carry any knife that isn’t explicitly regulated by the state.

Similarly, locking knives often fall into an entirely different category, becoming something like a dagger or a dirk legally speaking even if they otherwise resemble a pocketknife. The law may end up treating them the same as spring-assisted knives, Bowie knives, disguised knives, or butterfly knives.

There are some sorts of bladed weapons that are often restricted from state to state. These include ballistic knives, swords, gravity knives, and true switchblades (which are different from OTFs and other spring-assisted knives).

Where are you planning to go locally?

Even if your state has as liberal an attitude toward knife concealed as, say, Texas (which lets any resident 18 years old or older to carry virtually any weapon), you’ll need to think about where you go in your day and if your movements take you into any places where weapons are prohibited. For example, the Lone Star State will charge you if you bring a blade to places such as bars, airports, churches, stadiums, and government buildings. Not only will you have to determine if you’ll need to leave your knife behind, you’ll also need to make plans for where you’ll store it.

How often and far do you plan to travel?

 One of the great frustrations of those who carry concealed weapons is the patchwork of laws and regulatory actions that stretches across the U.S. Such variances can turn legal use in one arbitrary area to illegal use in another. Additionally, that violation may be a relatively minor misdemeanor or a major felony. The responsibility lies with you, the knife carrier, to determine whether or not your actions will remain legal throughout the course of your travels.

What will happen if you use it to defend yourself?

It’s a possibility that no one wants to consider: What will happen to you legally if you use a concealed knife to defend yourself with lethal force? That’s necessarily a complex question, the answer to which will necessarily vary depending on the specific situation. Here are some points to consider:

Are you facing an imminent threat as defined by the law?

Was your estimation of the threat reasonable?

Has your state established a duty to retreat in the face of a threat?

Do you know that even if you are innocent of any wrongdoing, you will likely be arrested if you injure or kill someone with a knife?

Will you react in a manner proportional to the perceived threat?

Are you prepared for the psychological impact of being involved in a violent incident?

Failing to properly answer such questions can land you behind bars, and those consequences for defending yourself bear ample consideration. While you’ll want to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe, you ought to properly prepare yourself beforehand.

Have you considered the possibility of escalation?

Sometimes the presence of a weapon stops a fight, and sometimes one can escalate it. This is less of a legal concern than a psychological and moral one: Are you able and willing to bear the consequences if a confrontation escalates because you’re carrying a knife?

What are the strangely specific laws of your state?

While we all might wish that laws conformed to the dictates of common sense, they don’t always, particularly when it comes to weapons. Consider some of the peculiarities surrounding knives in these various states:

  • Mississippi: Partial concealment is legally counted the same as full concealment (meaning that the shifting of clothing while wearing a sheathed knife could place you in legal trouble).
  • California: You may not have any knife with a blade longer than two-and-a-half inches on a college campus unless it’s used to prepare food.
  • Florida: You may not provide a youth with any sort of knife other than a common pocketknife (which has been given varying definitions in legal cases).
  • Maryland: Using a knife to deter an assailant is illegal.
  • Connecticut: You may not carry an automatic knife with a blade longer than one-and-a-half inches.
  • Alaska: If stopped by law enforcement while carrying a knife, you must disclose that you’re carrying one.
  • Massachusetts: You may not legally place any automatic knife with a blade longer than one-and-a-half inches in an automobile.
  • Alabama: You may openly carry Bowie knives, but you may not conceal them except on your own property.
  • New Mexico: You may not conceal any weapon that could cause “dangerous wounds.”
  • Washington: If you carry any sort of bladed weapon in a way that could be construed as threatening, you have committed a crime even if you didn’t intend to do so.

Are you willing to remain educated?

The above laws are only a small sampling of those across the union, and they don’t even take into account statutes passed by cities or municipalities. Additionally, laws and regulations can change, and if you don’t remain up to date on shifts in the legal landscape, you might find yourself before a judge. Properly concealing a knife involves a personal commitment to ongoing education.

We hope that these guidelines have provided you with more confidence regarding the legal practicalities of concealing a knife. If you have more specific questions, make sure to seek out competent counsel from an attorney.

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