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Is it legal to carry knives instead of guns in California?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Self-defense is a topic of interest for many California residents. After all, the world is sometimes a frightening place in which to live. Since this state is known for its strict firearms laws, you may wonder if you can ditch the guns in favor of bladed weapons for the defense of self and property.

In most situations, knives are legal to possess and carry in California. However, you must comply with state law to avoid a misdemeanor or felony charge. The knife laws in our state are nearly as complex as firearm statutes, making it easy to end up in troubled legal waters.

Which bladed weapons are illegal?

It depends on the type of knife and how you carry it on your person. For example, you can own and carry a fixed blade knife such as a dagger or a dirk in public, but you may not conceal them.

You may also own and carry a switchblade knife, but the blade must be only two inches or less in length. It is against the law to bear an open switchblade or conceal it on your body.

California law explicitly prohibits several types of bladed weapons. Examples include:

  • Ballistic knives: These contain a blade that detaches for a ballistic launch at a target
  • Misleading knives: These are concealed inside of everyday objects like canes, writing instruments or belt buckles
  • Undetectable knives: These bladed weapons will not trigger metal detectors, which is why they are prohibited

With so much focus on firearm legality, it is easy to overlook the rules associated with bladed weapons. We recommend increasing your knowledge of state weapons laws if you want to arm up for self-defense and remain in compliance with the law. If the police have already accused you of breaking weapons laws, you will need the help of a criminal defense attorney to ensure trying to stay safe does not cost you your freedom.