"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." -- Thomas Jefferson
Knife Rights' First Annual Ratings of Worst Anti-Knife Cities and Best States for Knife Owners Print E-mail

KnifeRights’ First Annual Ratings of 
Worst Anti-Knife Cities and Best States for Knife Owners

November 19, 2014: In the past five years Knife Rights has significantly advanced the rights of law-abiding knife owners in the United States, passing 15 pro-knife bills in 11 states. Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter explains, "This first annual Knife Rights review of the worst and best knife laws in America contrasts places where law-abiding knife owners enjoy complete or substantial freedom with those places which restrict the freedom of honest citizens by imposing arbitrary and irrational restrictions. These extreme anti-knife regulations are universally ignored by criminals and serve only to harass unwary citizens." The ratings were released at the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Sportsman - Legislator Summit held in Sunriver, Oregon.

Knife Owners Beware! The 10 Worst Anti-Knife Cities in America

The ten worst anti-knife cities stand out for their outright persecution of honest knife owners and extraordinarily restrictive anti-knife ordinances, far more severe than even the state laws in those areas.  All too often this results in unwary citizens being subject to arrest and prosecution, and loss of their knives, for having a knife that is perfectly legal elsewhere in the state.

1.   New York, NY (majority of pocketknives will result in arrest, aggressive prosecution of knife owners, over 60,000 to date)
2.   Philadelphia, PA (all knives are illegal to carry except when actually in use on the job)
3.   Ocean City, MD (many common pocketknives are illegal, Catch 22 traps many citizens)
4.   San Antonio, TX (all locking-blade pocketknives knives are illegal to carry except on the job)

Knife Rights' Knife Law Preemption bill, HB 905, signed into law and effective Sept. 1, 2015, repeals local laws more restrictive than state law.
5.   Rocky River, OH (2.5-inch blade limit)
6.   Boston, MA (2.5-inch blade carry limit, including in any vehicle)
7.   Cleveland, OH (2.5-inch blade carry limit, registration of any sale or gift of a longer bladed knife)
8.   Chicago, IL (2.5-inch blade concealed carry limit, 2-inch blade limit for 18 and under, but minor cannot legally obtain any knife)
9.   Corpus Christi, TX illegal to carry any fixed blade knife or a folder with a blade longer than 3-inches except when actually in use on the job)
Knife Rights' Knife Law Preemption bill, HB 905, signed into law and effective Sept. 1, 2015, repeals local laws more restrictive than state law.
10.   Aspen, CO (Any concealed knife is illegal to carry in public)

More details on each of the 10 worst cities' knife restrictions can be found below.

10 Best States for Knife Owners

Tied for First Place: Alaska / Arizona / Kansas / New Hampshire / Tennessee / Utah
Second Place: Georgia
Tied for Third Place: Arkansas / South Carolina / South Dakota

Law-abiding knife owners face no restrictions on the knives they can own or carry in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Utah. In all these states only the criminal misuse of a knife is illegal. In Georgia, the only restriction is that knives carried are limited to a 5-inch blade.

All of the states in First and Second Place have enacted Knife Rights' knife law preemption bills. Preemption stops local jurisdictions from passing ordinances more restrictive than state law, preventing a patchwork of local laws that can trap unwary citizens.

Arkansas, South Carolina and South Dakota have no knife restrictions at the state level. However, these states have not yet enacted knife law preemption, so towns and cities in these states are free to enact restrictions greater than state law. Knife owners need to be wary in that regard.

Know the Law - Don't Get Arrested!

In states and cities with knife restrictions, knowledge of the law is essential to avoid an unfortunate arrest, loss of knife or other legal complications. Knife Rights Foundation introduced its LegalBlade™ App this year to provide guidance at your fingertips to the knife laws of all 50 states as well as over 40 cities and local jurisdictions, with more being added every month.

The LegalBlade™ App is available now in the App Store and on Google play

Download on the App Store   Get it on Google Play


Details on the 10 Worst Anti-Knife Cities in America

1. New York City, NY: Common locking-blade pocket knives-approximately 90% of the pocket knives sold in the U.S. today-that can be "wrist flicked" open (or which a law enforcement officer claims might be "wrist flicked" open, even if by someone else) are considered illegal gravity knives and retailers and owners are subject to arrest. Retailers accused of selling these knives have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid prosecution and over 60,000 people are estimated to have been prosecuted in the past 10 years, threatened with a year in jail if found guilty, or a felony charge if they have any prior criminal conviction. Knife Rights is suing the city and Manhattan District Attorney in a federal civil rights lawsuit over their unilateral redefinition of what a gravity knife is and their unconstitutional use of the vague and indeterminate "wrist flick" test.

Click for details on Knife Rights' Federal Civil Rights lawsuit againt NYC.
Click for New York City's The Village Voice newspaper's front-page article, "Blade Stunner," slamming the City's persecution of knife owners.

Open carry in public, meaning that the knife is visible to others to some degree, is also prohibited; all knives must be completely concealed. A pocket knife clipped to your pocket, or even if it "prints" on the outside of your clothing if inside a pocket, can result in an expensive ticket and confiscation, or arrest if it meets the city's unique illegal gravity knife criteria.

All knives over 4-inches long are illegal to carry in public. Exceptions are provided for such a knife being actually used in "hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking or any employment, trade or occupation customarily requiring the use of such knife" or being transported to or from a store or sharpening service in a manner that prevents ready access. Automatic (switchblade) knives and gravity knives are prohibited except for hunters and fishermen actually engaged in those activities (purchase and sale is prohibited, however).

2. Philadelphia, PA: All knives are illegal for citizens to carry in public except when used in a trade or profession while actually being used on the job. Carry of a knife to and from the job is illegal! Automatic (switchblade) knives, gravity knives and assisted-opening pocket knives are prohibited entirely.

3. Ocean City, MD: It is "unlawful to display, possess, sell, barter, offer to sell, distribute, manufacture, give away, transfer or dispose of" an assisted opening knife, a fighting knife, or a butterfly knife. "Fighting knife," while not otherwise defined, includes any serrated blade knife. Note that while it may be technically legal to carry an automatic (switchblade) knife openly (legal under state law), one would likely be arrested on a more general weapons charge or pretext (don't attempt it!). When the "emergency" restriction adding the very common and popular assisted-opening folding knives to the list was passed earlier this year, the many existing owners of assisted-opening knives were caught in an unconstitutional Catch 22, their previously acquired property suddenly becoming simultaneously illegal to possess and illegal to dispose of! This unconstitutional ordinance is being challenged by a Knife Rights affiliated attorney whose client was arrested for possessing an assisted-opening knife.

4. San Antonio, TX: Carry of all locking-blade folding knives-approximately 90% of the pocket knives sold in the U.S. today-is prohibited, but a fixed blade knife up to Texas' 5.5-inch blade length limit is legal, provided you don't try to carry a Bowie knife (unless during a historical re-enactment), or possess a dirk, dagger or stiletto (all of which knife types are undefined in the law). Exception is made for use while "engaged in lawful hunting, fishing or other lawful sporting activity" or using a knife "in connection with a lawful occupation, during such utilization." Minors under age 17 may not "possess or carry any knife" in public, or even on private property without permission.

Knife Rights' Knife Law Preemption bill, HB 905, signed into law and effective Sept. 1, 2015, repeals local laws more restrictive than state law.

5. Rocky River, OH: Any knife with a blade 2.5-inches or longer is illegal to possess, carry, "manufacture… sell or furnish to any person other than a law enforcement agency for authorized use in police work." Automatic (switchblade) knives and gravity knives are prohibited entirely.

6. Boston, MA: It is illegal to carry on your person or in a vehicle any knife with a blade longer than 2.5-inches unless it is to be used on a job "which customarily involves the carrying or use of any type of knife." A special city license is required by most knife retailers (only department and hardware stores exempted) with a 2-inch blade length limit on knife sales to anyone under age 18.

7. Cleveland, OH: Any knife with a blade 2.5-inches or longer is illegal to carry, unless engaged in a business or pursuit where a larger knife is required. Sale or gift of a knife with a longer blade requires identification and registration "in a book kept for such purpose" which "shall be subject to inspection by any officer of the law upon demand." It is illegal to sell or give to a "minor" any knife with a blade 2.5-inches or longer.

8. Chicago, IL: It is illegal to carry concealed a knife with a blade longer than 2.5-inches. Concealed carry of a double-edged knife is prohibited. Automatic (switchblade) and gravity knives are prohibited entirely. "No person shall sell, offer for sale, loan or give to any person 18 years of age or under any type or kind of knife, any blade of which is two inches in length or longer," with no exceptions. However, no person 18 years or under may carry or possess or conceal on or about his person, any knife with a blade two inches or longer in length. It is a mystery how a minor is supposed to get hold of the knife, albeit of limited length, that they are legally allowed to own or carry.

9. Corpus Christi, TX: It is illegal to carry any fixed blade knife and also prohibited is any folding knife with a 3-inch or longer blade. Exception is made for a person "traveling" (undefined) or who uses the knife while "actually engaged in the performance of the duties of [a] business or profession." No allowance is provided for carry to or from the place of business!

Knife Rights' Knife Law Preemption bill, HB 905, signed into law and effective Sept. 1, 2015, repeals local laws more restrictive than state law.

10. Aspen, CO: Concealed carry of any knife, including a pocketknife, is illegal except in a vehicle without a concealed carry weapons permit.

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