Is It Legal? (Knife Laws)

It’s an understandable question

We’re often asked by customers or potential customers if a specific knife is legal in their state. It’s an understandable question. Automatics, stilettos, concealed carry, blade length, preemption statue — knife laws are confusing. Every state, and sometimes cities and counties, have their own regulations. In some states, such as Oregon, the law does not prohibit the ownership of most types of knives. However, concealed carry of certain types is a misdemeanor.

Nevertheless, Oregon does not have a “statewide preemption” for knives. What’s a statewide preemption? According to the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) a statewide preemption “makes the state the sole authority on knife laws. No local government or political entity may enact any law more restrictive that the state law.” That means, here in Oregon, individual cities or counties may enact more restrictive ordinances.

While Oregon law, overall, is fairly simple to understand, that’s not the case in every state. For example, notes, “New York knife laws are confusing and at times appear to be contradicting.” ATKI cautions people traveling to New York, and particularly New York City, to exercise caution when carrying a pocketknife due to “extremely verbose and complex law.”

With all of that said, while Kershaw can’t give you legal advice, there is one common question we can answer: “Is my SpeedSafe® assisted opening knife considered a switchblade?” No.

There are many unique features of SpeedSafe knives that make them quite different than knives that are considered a switchblade or automatic knife. Unlike a switchblade, SpeedSafe blades do not open with the push of a button in the handle or by gravity alone. Instead, the user must overcome the torsion bar's resistance in order to engage the SpeedSafe system. Because of this, SpeedSafe knives fall fully outside the Federal definition of a switchblade. However, it’s possible that state, local city, or county government definitions or interpretations could vary.

So, where do you turn to know what knives are legal in your state? Fortunately for knife owners, there are two excellent resources available.

The American Knife & Tool Institute

KnifeUp, The Outdoors Magazine

Both of these websites provide an interactive USA map. You can click on your state to read an outline of the knife laws in your area. However, please be aware that there may be local regulations, such as city or county ordinances, that may affect knife legality. Check with local officials for complete information in your specific area.

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