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Author Topic: The Legality of Blades
Nion
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Alright, so I like knives. I don't like knives in the "fun to hurt people" way, so don't worry. Anyways . . .

After a HUGE search I finally learned that as long as I don't carry a knife on me in Iowa that has a blade longer than five inches, I'm good to go. So far as I know, that is correct. I'm not saying I would, but it is useful to know (used to carry around a seven-incher in Vermont*)

The curiosity stems mainly from a) Not wanting to purchase something that could get me in trouble and b) not wanting to carry around something that would get me in trouble.

Here's one question I had: In the case of multi-bladed knives, such as a utility knife or a "batwing" knives, would each blade be counted separately or collectively?

One other question revolves around the laws themselves. Why is it perfectly legal to carry around a concealed, fully-loaded semi-automatic handgun with proper documentation but get slapped with a misdeanor if you dare openly carry a knife with a blade longer than five inches? Why can't they have a license for that too? I'm honestly just curious.

Relic "Not deadly" Man

ETA: *Interestingly enough, I've not been able to locate a law in Vermont in relation to allowed blade-length.

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DAnnino
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You lived in Vermont? I did too...left in '93 to transfer to Arizona.

You can't locate a law about blade length in Vermont, because more than likely there isn't one. I'd bet it's like Vermont's rule with handguns--any time, any place, any how. I used to find it slightly disconcerting to see people carrying handguns concealed badly.

As far as knives, the only laws I can think of withou looking is no switchblades (except carried by a one-armed person. This is no lie, it's under Title 19 USC if I remember correctly) and no edged weapons on aircraft. And logic seems to me that each blade in a multi-bladed knife would be judged separately.

As a law enforcement officer, I'd have no problem with any reasonable personal blade that wasn't concealed. If I have to go looking for it...well, you know. Maybe Chris Rock should add that to his "What Not To Do When Dealing With The Police" schtick.

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lazerus the duck
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I don't really care about the law, there is no legitimate reason for carrying a knife in the street unless you are a chef.

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DAnnino
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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
I don't really care about the law, there is no legitimate reason for carrying a knife in the street unless you are a chef.

Well, you never know when you might have to assist in preparing mise en place! [Big Grin]

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Wolf333
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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
I don't really care about the law, there is no legitimate reason for carrying a knife in the street unless you are a chef.

Maybe as just a handy tool? Sure a 9 inch blade seems excessive, but I use by pocket knife (4 inch blade) almost daily, if only for openning packages.

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1958Fury
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I'm not a fan of weapons in general, but I can think of all sorts of reasons to carry a pocketknife. I used to have one on my keychain, but I had to stop because I tended to unconciously play with it (I'm one of those people who always has to be doing something with his hands). Rather than risk losing a finger, I took it off my keychain. Now, at least once a month I find myself in a situation where I wished I had a cutting tool with me. Most times I can make do with a car key, but a knife would make things much easier.

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GrandMal de Caesar
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There is some question of custom here. In West Virginia, like Vermont, there are many occasions where a person will have a knife on their belt. Normally this is a folding lockblade, but not always. (We do have permit requirements for handguns though.)
Carrying a pocket knife is a common tradition. I have my late father and brother's pocketknives--Case pen knives. I carry a little Russell pen knife (two blades that are each 2 5/8 inches long) which I use frequently.
Immediately after the September 11 tragedy, the WV State Capitol started screening visitors. At the start, my knife's blades were considered too short to take the knife from me during visits ( I was a state employee in another nearby office.) This is not true in county courthouses in my home area.
I keep thinking about switching to a Swiss Army Tinker knife, simply because it has regular and Philips head screwdrivers on it.

[lol]

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Dreams of Thinking Machines
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Most pocket knives would make poor weapons. Wooden canes on the other hand....

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Singing in the Drizzle
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I carry a light weight pocket knife with a 3" blade and find it very useful. Not very good for killing someone, unless you sneak up behind them and cut their throat. Since I need to sharpen it again, its not even very good for that.
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Nion
We Three Blings


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DAninno: Thanks for the info. [Smile] I was indeed in Vermont, born and raised. I can't say I miss Barre that much, though. [lol]

lazerus the duck: There isn't much reason for hunters to carry their rifles around in their trucks all year, either. *shrug* I WILL reiterate it's not to fulfill some sort of sick fantasy. Being that I work thirds, it would just be nice to have something that would make someone think twice before messing with me. I'd rather keep it on my side, rather than hurt anyone or anything.

It's also worthy of noting that I do frequently have occasions at work where a knife comes in handy. [Smile]

Relic "STILL not deadly" Man

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DAnnino
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RelicMan, sometime I'll have to relate the story of how I almost got in a bar fight at Bullwinkle's in Barre in 1984. [Cool]

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Towknie
We Three Blings


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As I work with books, which ship in boxes, I used to have a box cutter on my keychain. That obvioulsy doesn't "fly" anymore. Now I just have a really sharp key to open my boxes.

I also have a really big, really sharp, hunting knife that I take on camping trips. It's probably got about a 9" blade on it, and it's strong enough to chop fire wood, while being sharp enough to cook with (tried shaving, but it didn't beat out the Mach 3). But I only break that out for wilderness adventures. Otherwise it stays safely put away.

I lost my little 3" Gerber knife. Boy do I miss that thing! Useful little bugger around the house that was!

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Don Enrico
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quote:
Originally posted by RelicMan:
Here's one question I had: In the case of multi-bladed knives, such as a utility knife or a "batwing" knives, would each blade be counted separately or collectively?

I've got no idea about US laws, but coming from a (German) lawyers POV, I would imagine the ratio behind blade-length laws being "it's OK as long as it's not long enough to seriously hurt somebody." Since you can't use several blades on your Swiss Army knife together, they shouldn't be counted together, either. It would rather be the longest single blade that counts.

Don "sharp, ain't I?" Enrico

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Nion
We Three Blings


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Thanks for the input, Don Enrico. I appreciate it. [Smile]

DAnnino: A bar fight, in Barre? Naw! [lol] You'll have to relate it sometime!

So what I've uncovered is that a blade of up to five inches is legal. Over five is a misdemeanor, and over eight is agrivated misdeanor. I'm sure that if it's for hunting, a police officer would be more lenient. You can have as long a blade as you want in Iowa, so long as you keep it in your private residence. However, so much as setting a toe into the hallway of an apartment building would render you illegal.

Thanks again to all who helped! [Smile]

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geminilee
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How exactly are you supposed to get it into your private residence, then?

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Dreams of Thinking Machines
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quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
How exactly are you supposed to get it into your private residence, then?

You use your forge to make it of course!

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Don Enrico
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quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
How exactly are you supposed to get it into your private residence, then?

Mail order?

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Howard
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Don Enrico:
quote:
Originally posted by geminilee:
How exactly are you supposed to get it into your private residence, then?

Mail order?
There has to be more to the law. You can buy long blades such as Bowie knives at Gun & Knife shows. My father forges knives and he's never had any trouble transporting them. You can also buy those cheap replica swords at shows and retailers.

Now, if you walk into a mall with Anduril or a twelve inch Bowie strapped to your waist, you might raise a few eyebrows.

ETA: Can't spell twlve...tweleve...whatever [dunce]

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Howard
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
I don't really care about the law, there is no legitimate reason for carrying a knife in the street unless you are a chef.

What use does a chef have for a knife in the street? I thought they used them in the kitchen! [Confused]

Anyways, I can think of many reasons to carry a knife with you. Most are utilitarian in nature, but self defense is also a good reason. Also, they're good for cutting purse straps when you run across a lady that just won't let go.

Okay, just kidding about that last one [Big Grin]

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DemonWolf
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I actually read the law for this in my town. It was basiacally illegal to carry a blade longer than 2.5 inches unless you were hunting or fishing.

I would assume that transporting it (as in, in a box or in your trunk) does not count as "carrying" based on the wording.

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Eddylizard
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quote:
What use does a chef have for a knife in the street? I thought they used them in the kitchen!

Many artisans (in which I'll include chefs) are fiercly defensive of their tools, and won't tolerate the idea of anyone else using them. I can see a chef carrying his precious knife set to and from work so that someone else doen't use them while he is away.

Plus good quality kitchen knives are quite expensive, so the chef might not want to leave them at work, in case they are not there next time he goes in.

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Nion
We Three Blings


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Yes, I should have been more clear. The law applies to carrying the knife on your person. I'm sure it's perfectly legal to transport it.

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charlie23
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Knife laws by state

I don't leave home without my swiss army knife, and it gets regular use although I must say the screwdriver blade gets about 80% of it.
Switchblades are legal here in Bulgaria and I have a couple of them, but more for curiosity value than anything. They aren't very robust, but make handy letter openers.

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Delta-V
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quote:
Originally posted by Howard:
Anyways, I can think of many reasons to carry a knife with you. Most are utilitarian in nature, but self defense is also a good reason.

I can't see carrying a knife for self-defense is a good idea for most people. It might scare off an unarmed attacker, but that's about the limit of it's usefullness. To be effective with a knife, you need training and the mental and physical ability to actually stab someone.

Looks like Iowa law only prohibits concealed knives. You can openly carry whatever you want. And, really, it takes a bit of effort to actually conceal a >5" blade knife (esp. if it's not a folding type). I guess it depends if you count wearing it on a belt with a jacket on as 'concealed'. Might want to look at the city ordinances, too. Here in Kansas, it's pretty common to see people wearing 3-5" folding knives on their belt. By state law, you can also carry firearms openly, but there are city ordinances against it.

I'm also positive that blade length isn't additive...it's the maximum blade length that matters.

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Elkhound
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In NC, when they put in a law forbidding knives at school, there was in the rural districts a great deal of distress, as most males carried pocket knives routinely. Most of them didn't think of the pocket-knife as a 'weapon' but as a tool.

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DAnnino
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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
]

I can't see carrying a knife for self-defense is a good idea for most people. It might scare off an unarmed attacker, but that's about the limit of it's usefullness. To be effective with a knife, you need training and the mental and physical ability to actually stab someone.

Looks like Iowa law only prohibits concealed knives. You can openly carry whatever you want. And, really, it takes a bit of effort to actually conceal a >5" blade knife (esp. if it's not a folding type). I guess it depends if you count wearing it on a belt with a jacket on as 'concealed'. Might want to look at the city ordinances, too. Here in Kansas, it's pretty common to see people wearing 3-5" folding knives on their belt. By state law, you can also carry firearms openly, but there are city ordinances against it.

I'm also positive that blade length isn't additive...it's the maximum blade length that matters.
[/QUOTE]
To truly be proficient with an edged weapon for defensive purposes, you must practice, practice, practice. Anyone who just carrys one without a clue is basically giving the bad guy another weapon. I might also add that I feel the same way about people who carry a firearm, thinking that this makes them safer somehow. I really doubt it. Its a mindset, you either have it or you don't. Most people around here don't. I'd like to walk up to them in Wal-Mart and disarm them before they'd notice. [Big Grin]

Several years ago, we had some force-on-force training with Simunition weapons, and the instructors literally patted down the officers before each scenario. Everyone forgot their pocket knives and multi-tools. Why? Most of us don't really think of these things as weapons as much as tools. But under stress, you might just react. It happened in a department, I believe in Nebraska. Guy stabbed his buddy with his pocket knife when his weapon jammed during a scenario.

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beaver_slayer
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From what I read on Canadian legislation the use and ownership of blades, maces, morning stars, nunchakus and the like is restricted - but for some reason the regulations don't include axes. Can anyone confirm?
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rogue
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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:

Looks like Iowa law only prohibits concealed knives. You can openly carry whatever you want. And, really, it takes a bit of effort to actually conceal a >5" blade knife (esp. if it's not a folding type). [/QB]

I was in my front yard showing a friend a pair of katanas I had recently purchased. A police officer driving by stopped and hassled me about them. He told me that a sword or knife in a scabbard was concealed because the blade could not be seen. YMMV.

-Rogue

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DAnnino
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quote:
Originally posted by rogue:
quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:

Looks like Iowa law only prohibits concealed knives. You can openly carry whatever you want. And, really, it takes a bit of effort to actually conceal a >5" blade knife (esp. if it's not a folding type).

I was in my front yard showing a friend a pair of katanas I had recently purchased. A police officer driving by stopped and hassled me about them. He told me that a sword or knife in a scabbard was concealed because the blade could not be seen. YMMV.

-Rogue [/QB]

That may be how thw law in your state is written. I know that in Arizona, at least with firearms, a holstered weapon is not considered concealed if secreted in a vehicle, but is if secreted on a person. And while you may not be able to actually se the blade, the scabbard would indicate the maximum it could be. Besides, a scabbarded katana is one that can't hurt me. [Smile]

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Nion
We Three Blings


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My thoughts exactly, DAninno. I mean, would police rather see someone with a sheathed 8" dagger, or see someone walking down the street swinging one around to make sure it wasn't concealed? [lol]

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Logoboros
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Applying this to scabbards sounds ridiculous, but I recall hearing that sword-canes were illegal to carry (but I have no cite). Perhaps the cop was thinking of a law about that and extending it a bit too far?

--Logoboros

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Nion
We Three Blings


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I'd think they would be illegal, since the blade is concealed and its presence is not known(appears to be a normal cane.)

I vote either the officer was misinterpreting law or was being overzealous about it.

ETA: For Oklahoma, you can only carry something dangerous(and there was a HUGE list of "weapons") if it is:
"1. The proper use of guns and knives for hunting, fishing, educational or recreational purposes;
2. The carrying or use of weapons in a manner otherwise permitted by statute or authorized by the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act"

Obviously playing with a kitana could arguably fall under the recreational area of the law. What I found cheerfully ommitted what the "Oklahoma Self-Defense Act" would consider permittable.

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Malruhn
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Another thing to consider are the municipality laws...

Some cities have additional regulations on double edged blades, double-bladed knives and even ceremonial or decorative blades (that groovy Excaliber mounted above the mantle).

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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I've carried a pocketknife daily since I was 11, and have had cause to use it nearly daily. Saves me lots of hassles. [Smile]

As for knife laws, in a multiblade each blade is its own entity. Having 2 3" blades does not equal a single 6".

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HenryChicane
I Saw Three Shipments


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I carry a Leatherman Tool on my belt in its leather sheath everywhere I go. (obviously excepting the airport) I have never been hassled by law enforcement or anyone else, and I have had one model or another for over a decade. I have had three traffic tickets in my life and it was on my belt each time, in full view. It comes in handy at least a few times a week, and people are always asking to borrow it. It is a tool, not a weapon as far as I am concerned.

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Posts: 75 | From: NewCastle, Delaware | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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