States have banned guns

Gun Law in the USA - Knives (Part 2, N to W)

There are more differences than similarities between the German gun law and the gun law in the USA for knives. While the right to possession of firearms is largely governed by an amendment to the American Constitution, each state can have its own rules for the possession and carrying of knives. The regulations for carrying knives in all 50 states at a glance.

Content and overview

In fact, if you look at the US as a whole, the bans and restrictions on certain types of knives or blade lengths are much lower than in Germany. The problem for travelers, however, is that every US state has its own laws for owning and wielding knives.

A special feature of gun law in the USA is the distinction between whether a knife is worn "open" - that is, visible to everyone - or concealed under clothing. In fact, the visibility of the knife being carried is often decisive for the question of whether the knife is legally used or not.

While in Germany the question of “legal” or “illegal” is mostly decided on a half-centimeter blade or a locking system, in gun law in the USA it is often decisive whether a police officer can see the knife or not. In addition to the information in this article, observe how locals carry their knives on the spot. The police officers in the USA are well trained and (almost always) give very friendly information about the regulations in their area.

Note: The information for “permitted” or “prohibited” in this article always refers to the use of knives in public, not to their trade or possession.

Gun Law in the USA - States "N"

Nebraska

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Specifics: In Nebraska every knife can be used if it is visible. Only knives with a blade length of less than 3.5 ″ may be carried concealed. This rule does not apply to anyone who has committed a criminal offense in Nebraska.

Nevada

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Prohibited (even possession!)
  • OTF: Forbidden (also possession!)
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Unclear!
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: The state of Nevada defines the term "switchblade" somewhat differently than is usual in other states. Switchblades are completely forbidden, but strictly speaking, the stiletto (although fully automatic) is not on the prohibited list. Still the advice not to bring a stiletto to Nevada.

Warning: Carrying or possessing a belt buckle knife (even in components) is a criminal offense in Nevada.

New Hampshire

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed
  • OTF: Allowed
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-handed knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed
  • Dagger: Allowed

Specifics: New Hampshire's regulations make a clear distinction between innocent citizens and criminals. While a citizen is allowed to carry any knife visibly or concealed, convicted criminals are prohibited from possessing most knives themselves and “convicted criminals” (formulation in the law) are not allowed to wield a knife in public.

New Jersey

  • Fixed blades: Unclear
  • Switchblades: Unclear
  • OTF: Unclear
  • Balisong: Unclear
  • One-hand knife: Unclear
  • Stiletto: Unclear
  • Dagger: Unclear

Special features: In New Jersey there is no list of permitted knives, the classification depends on the (presumed) intended use. If there is a suspicion that someone is wielding a knife in order to commit a crime, possession of the knife is a criminal offense. On the other hand, a “comprehensible reason” should be sufficient to legally wield a knife. In New Jersey, before putting a knife in your pocket, you should first check with the police about the current regulations.

New Mexico

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Prohibited (even possession!)
  • OTF: Forbidden (also possession!)
  • Balisong: Forbidden (also possession!)
  • One-hand knife: gray area
  • Stiletto: Prohibited (also possession!)
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: Flippers are considered switch blades in New Mexico and are therefore prohibited from possession and carrying. One-hand knives are in a gray area, at least when they can be flung out of the wrist. Two-hand knives, multitools and gentleman folders, on the other hand, shouldn't cause any problems.

new York

Tourists are not allowed to carry any knife ("It is illegal to own any knife if you are not a U.S. citizen").

Specifics: New York City has knife handling regulations that differ from the rest of the state. In NYC, even carrying a one-handed knife can be considered a criminal offense. Outside of NYC you should ask the police about the applicable regulations (for tourists!).

North Carolina

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: two-hand knives and multitools may be carried concealed. Carrying knives is not permitted in educational institutions and public buildings.

It is forbidden to use knives in parades, funeral procession, in the vicinity of pickets or demonstrations and in all health facilities.

North Dakota

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: two-hand knives and multitools may be carried concealed. All knives with a blade length not exceeding 5 ″ may also be carried concealed. When worn visibly, even machetes and swords are (theoretically) no problem.

Gun Law in the USA - States "O" to "T"

Ohio

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: The legality of the concealed carrying of knives depends on the classification of the knife as a "deadly weapon". The classifications are controversial in the jurisprudence, so wear a knife visibly and you're done.

Oklahoma

  • Fixed blades: Unclear
  • Switchblades: Unclear
  • OTF: Unclear
  • Balisong: Unclear
  • One-hand knife: Unclear
  • Stiletto: Unclear
  • Dagger: Unclear

Special features: In Oklahoma there is no list of permitted knives, the classification depends on the question of whether the knife is a "deadly weapon". The legal situation is not very clear. The classifications are partly contradicting one another. Two-hand knives and multitools are no problem.

As a tourist in Oklahoma, you should first check with the police about the current regulations before you put a knife in your pocket.

Oregon

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: two-hand knives and multitools may be carried concealed. In Oregon, convicted offenders are barred from possessing or wielding knives.

Pennsylvania

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Prohibited (even possession!)
  • OTF: Forbidden (also possession!)
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-handed knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Prohibited (also possession!)
  • Dagger: Forbidden (also possession!)

Special features: Pinball machines and semi-automatic machines are NOT considered switchblades in Pennsylvania, so they are not prohibited from possession or being carried. Fully automatic machines are therefore prohibited. Knives with blades sharpened on both sides are prohibited as folding knives, as fixed in a gray area.

Rhode Island

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when carried open
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn open
  • OTF: Allowed when worn open
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn open
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn open
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn open
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn open

Special features: Two-hand knives and multitools may be carried concealed if the blade length does not exceed 3 ″.

South carolina

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed
  • OTF: Allowed
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-handed knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed
  • Dagger: Allowed

Specifics: It is legal to carry any kind of knife concealed as long as the knife is not used for a crime or in support of a crime.

South Dakota

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed
  • OTF: Allowed
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-hand knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed
  • Dagger: Allowed

Special features: It is legal to carry any kind of knife visibly or concealed.

Tennessee

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed
  • OTF: Allowed
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-handed knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed
  • Dagger: Allowed

Specifics: Tennessee lifted the switchblade ban in 2014. You can wear any knife visible or hidden if you have "no bad intentions". Anyone who behaves has nothing to fear.

Texas

  • Fixed blades: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • Switchblades: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • OTF: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • Balisong: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • One-hand knife: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • Stiletto: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length
  • Dagger: Allowed up to 5.5 ″ blade length

Special features: Texas once had the most restrictive gun law in the US for knives. In 2017 it was relaxed significantly. Strictly speaking, knives with longer blades are also allowed, but there is an endless list of areas (including hospitals, racetracks or schools) where longer blades are not allowed.

In order not to accidentally injure one of these areas, it makes sense for tourists not to use knives with blades longer than 5.5 ″. Attention: Tomahawks are subject to a general driving ban! "

Gun law in the USA - states "U" to "W"

Utah

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed
  • OTF: Allowed
  • Balisong: Allowed
  • One-hand knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed
  • Dagger: Allowed

Specifics: Utah only forbids people who have committed criminal offenses from carrying knives. There are very detailed lists of restrictions for this. Even those who are not legally in the USA are not allowed to carry a knife in Utah. There are no restrictions for innocent citizens and tourists.

Vermont

  • Fixed blades: Allowed
  • Switchblades: Allowed up to 3 ″ blade length
  • OTF: Allowed up to 3 ″ blade length
  • Balisong: Allowed up to 3 ″ blade length
  • One-hand knife: Allowed
  • Stiletto: Allowed up to 3 ″ blade length
  • Dagger: Allowed

Special features: The legal situation in Vermont is difficult to understand. Above all, it is not clear which designs count as switchblades. To be on the safe side, all pocket knives with opening support and “Gravity opener” with the restriction that applies to Switchblades are listed here.

Virginia

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn visibly
  • OTF: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn visibly
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn visibly
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn visibly

Special features: Machetes and tomahawks are also legal if they are visibly worn.

Washington

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Switchblades: Prohibited (Also Possession)
  • OTF: Forbidden (Also Possession)
  • Balisong: Forbidden (Also Possession)
  • One-hand knife: Allowed if worn visibly
  • Stiletto: Forbidden (Also possession)
  • Dagger (Fixed): Allowed when worn visibly

Special features: The regulations in Washington are vague and difficult to understand. As a tourist in Washington, you should first ask the police about the current regulations before you pocket a knife.

Note: The information relates to the state of Washington, not the capital Washington DC.

West Virginia

For "Non US-Residents", ie for tourists, it is forbidden to carry any knife.

Wisconsin

The provisions are vague. For US citizens, the rule applies that no one is allowed to carry a knife who is prohibited from carrying firearms. This ban also applies to tourists.

On the other hand, knives are not “dangerous weapons” according to the current legal situation in Wisconsin and are therefore in the public domain. Before you pocket a knife in Wisconsin, you should check with the police about local regulations.

Wyoming

  • Fixed Blades: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Switchblades: Allowed when worn visibly
  • OTF: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Balisong: Allowed when worn visibly
  • One-handed knife: Allowed if worn visibly
  • Stiletto: Allowed when worn visibly
  • Dagger: Allowed when worn visibly

Special features: none.

Status: June 2019, sources: knifeup.com, wikipedia.org

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The information on legal regulations and legal aspects in this article is based on thorough research and the sources specified, but reflects the opinion and understanding of a legal layperson and is therefore non-binding!