Florida Knife Laws: Are Switchblades Illegal in Florida?

Florida’s statutes regarding the right to own and carry a knife can be pretty overwhelming to read and understand. With that being said, this post breaks down knife laws in Florida in plain and simple words.

Overview of Knife Laws in Florida

In Florida, knife laws are relatively lenient, allowing for open carry of any legal knife. However, it is illegal to conceal carry any type of knife unless you have a license. Automatic knives are legal for open carry regardless of blade length, but concealed carry of automatic knives is prohibited without a license.

There are some restrictions, such as carrying knives on school grounds and the possession and use of knives in self-defense, which will be discussed in more detail later in this blog post.

What Knives Are Legal to Own in Florida?

In Florida, you’re allowed to own, buy, or sell any type of knife apart from ballistic knives. Some of the knife types that are legal to own in Florida are:

  • Balisong knives
  • Cane knives
  • Belt knives
  • Disguised knives
  • Throwing knives
  • Throwing stars
  • Bowie knives
  • Undetectable knives

What Knives Are Illegal to Own in Florida?

The only type of knife that’s illegal to own in Florida is the ballistic knife, which has a detachable blade that you can shoot by activating a switch, lever, or trigger. Ballistic knives differ from pocket knives or flip knives in that you can remove the blade entirely from the base or hilt of the knife.

According to Florida law, the manufacture, possession, display, owning, and selling of ballistic knives, also known as self-propelled knives, is illegal. If you’re caught with a ballistic or self-propelled knife in the state of Florida, you can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree.

What the Law Says

§ 790.06 (2018) License to carry concealed weapon or firearm.—

(1) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is authorized to issue licenses to carry concealed weapons or concealed firearms to persons qualified as provided in this section. Each such license must bear a color photograph of the licensee. For the purposes of this section, concealed weapons or concealed firearms are defined as a handgun, electronic weapon or device, tear gas gun, knife, or billie …

Ballistic Knife Ban

The Florida Court has taken a hard stance on owning and carrying certain knives, such as ballistic and self-propelled knives. According to Florida law, it is illegal to manufacture, display, sell, own, or possess any ballistic or self-propelled knife. Furthermore, concealed carry of such knives is also prohibited.

For those looking to carry a knife in public, only common pocketknives are allowed. It is important to note that these laws are strictly enforced and severe penalties can be incurred if found in possession of an illegal knife.

Fla. Stat. § 790.225 (2012)

§ 790.225.  Ballistic self-propelled knives; unlawful to manufacture, sell, or possess; forfeiture; penalty

(1) It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, display, sell, own, possess, or use a ballistic self-propelled knife which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile and which physically separates the blade from the device by means of a coil spring, elastic material, or compressed gas. A ballistic self-propelled knife is declared to be a dangerous or deadly weapon and a contraband item. It shall be subject to seizure and shall be disposed of as provided in s. 790.08(1) and (6).

Ballistic Self-Propelled Knives in Florida

When it comes to ballistic self-propelled knives, Florida law is very clear. It is illegal to manufacture, display, sell, own, or possess any ballistic or self-propelled knife. This means that not only are you not allowed to carry a ballistic knife on your person, but you are also not allowed to have one in your home or place of business. In addition, law enforcement officers are not exempt from this rule and are also prohibited from carrying a ballistic knife.

Self-defense laws

In Florida, there’s a “stand your ground” law, which allows individuals to use force, including deadly force, if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. This means that in some cases, you can use a knife in self-defense without fear of prosecution. However, it’s important to understand the laws regarding self-defense and use of force to avoid any legal trouble.

Knife Possession Age Requirements

When it comes to minors and knives, the law in Florida is clear: no minor under the age of 18 can possess any weapon other than a basic pocket knife without express permission from their parents. Schools also have their own rules prohibiting the possession of weapons on their grounds. Furthermore, concealing a knife with a blade that is longer than 4 inches is prohibited without a permit.

Carrying Knives on School Grounds

When it comes to carrying knives on school grounds, the law is very strict. The only two non-lethal weapons allowed are common pocket knives and less than two ounces of pepper spray. Minors under the age of 18 must never carry anything other than a basic pocket knife unless express permission from their parents is given.

Possession of any weapon or knife (including pocketknife) should involve consultation with law enforcement for investigation. Furthermore, the law states that possession of any knife, including a razor blade or box cutter, is prohibited without authorization in support of school-sanctioned activities. It is important to be aware of all applicable laws when considering carrying a knife on school grounds.

Are There Restrictions on Carry in Florida?

In the state of Florida, you’re free to openly carry any type of legal knife. This includes work knives, such as box cutters and the like. As long as you aren’t openly carrying a ballistic knife, you have nothing to worry about.

As for concealed carry, you can’t carry any knife with a blade of over 4 inches without a permit. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t carry any type of concealed knife in Florida, except for a standard pocket knife with a blade that’s shorter than 4 inches.

According to Florida statute 790.06, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has the authority to issue licenses that grant licensees the right to carry concealed weapons. This includes handguns, electronic weapons, tear gas guns, knives, and so forth. And the license must have a color photograph of the licensee.

Otherwise, carrying a concealed weapon without a license issued by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will put you on the wrong side of the law.

Note that law enforcement officers are exempt from the penal and licensing provisions regarding weapon concealment as long as they’re acting in the course of their duty. Furthermore, active-duty military personnel and honorably discharged veterans are offered a simplified version of the licensing process.

Location-Based Restrictions

Some restrictions have less to do with the types of knives or carriers and more to do with where you carry them, and we’ll demonstrate how:

Municipal Code

It’s important to note that some counties in Florida follow different regulations for weapons compared to state law. That being said, you must check your local municipal code before you decide to carry a knife.

School Ground

According to Florida statute 790.115, it’s illegal to possess or discharge any sort of weapon on school property or at a school-sponsored event. Not to mention, furnishing a weapon to minors or people of unsound minds is prohibited.

Are Automatic Knives Legal in Florida?

Yes, automatic knives are legal in Florida as long as you carry them openly. If you’re going to conceal an automatic knife, you’re going to need a concealed weapons permit from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Please bear in mind that if the automatic knife bears a resemblance to a ballistic knife in terms of design or implementation, you shouldn’t own or carry it. That’s because it’ll be considered a ballistic knife, which makes it illegal.

In Summary

Florida’s knife laws are pretty liberal when it comes to the types of knives you can own. So, you can own just about any kind of knife in Florida, including balisong, bowie, belt, cane, disguised, throwing, and undetectable knives.

The only type of knife that you aren’t allowed to own in Florida is the ballistic knife. In addition, any kind of knife that resembles a ballistic knife in terms of design or implementation is considered illegal.

With regard to carrying, you can carry any type of knife openly, as long as it isn’t a ballistic knife. Concealed carry is a different story, though. And the only knife that you can conceal is the typical pocket knife if it has a blade that’s shorter than 4 inches. For any other type of knife, you’re going to need a concealed weapons permit.

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