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Knife Laws

Even small knives are forbidden on all commercial airliners and are among the illegal imports that may be confiscated at airports by customs staff even if packed in luggage. The knife laws of different countries vary, but are generally strict in Western countries.

Knife laws in U.S. cities vary tremendously. In Texas, for example, individuals may carry knives openly or concealed so long as they are single-edged, and are not daggers, switchblades, or gravity knives (balisong legality is questionable - there have been convictions). In some other States, fixed-blade knives are banned, open carry is banned, and sometimes concealed carry of anything except pocket knives is banned. Cities have ordinances further restricting these laws; in San Antonio, TX, it is a violation to carry a folding knife having a locking blade. In some metro areas such as Washington, D.C., going into office buildings or museums, or simply loitering, carrying even small 3" folding knives can be problematic. Other restricted areas in the U.S. include court buildings and federal property (the latter of which technically has a limit of 2" for blades).

Carrying knives in public is generally forbidden by law in many countries. Exceptions may be made for hunting knives, and for knives used for work-related purposes (e.g. chef"s knives). Automatic knives (switchblades) are almost universally banned from civilian carry if not possession. Balisongs (butterfly knives) are only slightly less stigmatized, and tend to be treated as switchblades by unfriendly law enforcement agencies. Most Western European nations are very unfriendly toward all knives other than small pocket knives and similarly small tools, which are nonetheless not allowed on planes or in certain other venues. Even multi-tools like the SwissTool, Gerber multitools, and Leatherman multitools are often frowned upon, due to their having relatively large blades and/or locking ability.

For a complete list of knife laws, please visit Bernard Levine's page of State Knife Laws or Knife Laws of the 50 States by David Wong, Esq.

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