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In California, there are several laws that govern knives. These laws all have to do with what you can carry and where you can carry them, whether open or concealed. Generally speaking, knife laws are friendly, but there are some differences between regional and urban areas. There is also a bit of uncertainty and confusion regarding dirk and daggers. Here is our guide to knife laws in California.
What knives are legal to own in California?
Unlike other states, California has legalized bowie knives, which are still banned or restricted in other states. Other than that, large knives are also legal, and there are no restrictions regarding the size. Automatic knives or switchblades (OTS as wells OTF), butterfly knives are also permitted, but the blade must be a maximum of two inches in length.
What knives are illegal to own in California?
Dirk and daggers are illegal. Ballistic knives, belt buckle knives, cane swords, concealed daggers or dirks, billy or blackjack knives, lipstick case knives, and metal knuckles are also banned. Disguised knives and those that do not set off metal detectors are illegal. A switchblade with more than two inches in length for the blade is unlawful too.
What are the limits on carry?
Generally speaking, carrying a knife in the open is legal in California except for a few places, discussed below. But, of course, the knife you carry must be legal to own as well – show up with a massive switchblade, and you will be in trouble.
If the knife is legal, concealed carry is also permitted. However, concealment is a factor if the knife is not allowed – such as a dirk or a dagger. Knives similar to illegal knives may also be put in the same category, so you must be careful. Should any issues arise, it is up to a jury to decide.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances
Schools are weapon-free zones, so knives are not allowed. You can use certain knives in university buildings, but further restrictions exist in airports and other publicly owned buildings. For example, you cannot even have a box cutter in an airport.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer
Whether it comes to manufacturing, selling, or transferring knives, the restrictions apply only to illegal knives. Legal knives can be sold or transferred with no issues at all.
Is there a statewide pre-emption?
There is no such thing as a statewide pre-emption in California.
Major Cities in California with Knife Ordinances
There are many cities with knife ordinances in California. The state has small communities and large urban centers, hence the necessity of such ordinances.
Los Angeles Knife Laws
- It is illegal to publicly carry any knife with a blade longer than three inches.
- Openly carrying knives and daggers in “plain view” are explicitly banned.
- It is also illegal to carry any weapon concealed on one’s person.
Sacramento Knife Laws
- It is illegal to sell or own knives with a push-button deployment mechanism. This includes automatic knives like the ‘Out The Side’ or ‘Out The Front’ knives and even the spring-assisted knives.
- It is also banned to carry knives that can be classified as deadly weapons in vehicles. Still, the law clearly states that “but this restriction shall not be deemed to prohibit the carrying of ordinary tools or equipment carried in good faith for the use of honest work, trade or business, or the purpose of legitimate sport or recreation.”
San Francisco Knife Laws
- Any knife with a blade three inches or more in length
- Any knife with a blade that can be automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, including the assisted opening ones.
- Any ice pick or similar sharp, stabbing tool
- Any straight edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle
- Any cutting, stabbing, bludgeoning weapon or device capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
|City, State||Law Title/ Chapter/ Section||Concealed Carry Legal||Max Size Restriction||Short description from the law|
|Los Angeles Co. CA||13.62.010||Yes||3"||shall include any knife having a blade of three inches or more in length;|
|Los Angeles Co. CA||13.62.020||unlawful for any person to carry on his person, in plain view, any knife|
|Alameda Co. CA||9.12.050||Yes||3"||Any knife having a blade three inches or more in length|
|Belmont, CA||15-22||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three (3) inches or more in length,|
|Ceres, CA||9.12.010||Yes||3"||Any knife having a blade three inches (3”) or more in length,|
|Chino, CA||9.84.010||Yes||3"||Any knife with a blade three inches or more in length,|
|Chino Hills, CA||12.40.170 & 12,40,240||Yes||3"||in city parks, any knife having a blade of three inches or more in length|
|Citrus Heights, CA||33-73||Yes||3"||any knife having a blade measuring from the handle of three (3) inches or more in length, any knife that will not shut,|
|Colton, CA||44389||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches or more in length,|
|Colusa, CA||44389||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches or more in length,|
|Commerce, CA||9.16.051||Yes||3"||shall include any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade of three inches or more in length;|
|Contra Costa, Co. CA||9.16.050||Yes||3"||shall include any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade of three inches or more in length;|
|Corte Madera, CA||9.16.051||Yes||3"||shall include any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade of three inches or more in length;|
|Costa Mesa, CA||12-57||No||In "Skate Parks" No person shall have a dangerous weapon in his/her possession. Deadly weapons shall include, knives,|
|E. Palo Alto, CA||9.24.010||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches or more in length|
|Fontana, CA||16-131||Yes||3"||Any knife with a blade three inches or more in length;|
|Glendale, CA||9.24.050||Yes||3"||having a blade three (3) inches or more in length,|
|Lake Forest, CA||13.04.010||Yes||3"||having a blade of three inches or more in length in any Park or Recreation Facility|
|Marin Co. CA||6.52.010||Yes||3"||Conceals any knife with a blade three inches or more in length on them on in a vehicle.|
|Maywood, CA||4-4.01||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three (3?) inches or more in length|
|Mendota, CA||9.24.020||Yes||2"||possess a knife with a blade longer than 2" while being present in any establishment serving alcoholic beverages.|
|Mission Viejo, CA||13.04||Yes||3"||No person shall carry on his person, in plain view, any knife 3" or longer in any City Park|
|Modesto, CA||4-2.03.1||Yes||3"||Dangerous Weapon ... Any knife having a blade three inches or more in length|
|Morro Bay, CA||9.04.030||No Possession or Carrying of Knife during declared Emergency.|
|Mountain View, CA||21.9||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three (3) inches or more in length,|
|Newark, CA||12.16.240||In Parks knife other than pocket knife, capable of cutting, defacing or mutilating trees or shrubs|
|Oakland, CA.||9.36.010||Yes||3"||Any knife having a blade three inches or more in length,|
|Orange, CA||5.72.075||During Special Pageant no carry of any knife|
|Pasadena, CA||9.84.020||Yes||5"||in a concealed manner, any knife or other similar instrument with a blade or sharp edge 5 inches or longer|
|Patterson, CA||9.36.010||Yes||3"||Any knife having a blade three or more inches in length|
|Perris, CA||7.22.040||Yes||3"||In Parks. Recreation Facilities: No person shall carry in plain view, any knife with a blade in excess of three inches|
|Pismo Beach, CA||9.16.030||Yes||3"||No person shall wear or carry in plain view any knife upon any public street or place or place open to the public.|
|Pittsburg, CA||9.92.040||Yes||3"||unlawful for any person to carry concealed upon his person any knife having a blade three (3) inches or more|
|Plumas Co, CA||5-7.01||Yes||3.5"||Carry on Fairgrounds any knife with a blade over three and one-half (3½") inches in length|
|Redding, CA||10.56.010||Yes||3"||“dangerous or deadly weapon” means any knife with a blade three inches or more in length|
|Richmond, CA||11.12.010||Yes||3"||Any knife having a blade three inches or more in length|
|Sacramento Co. CA||9.32.010||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches or more in length;|
|Salinas, CA||21-44 & 21-56.||Yes||3"||The term “dangerous or deadly weapon” includes, or knife other than a pocket knife,|
|San Anselmo, CA||4-5.03||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three (3") inches or more in length|
|San Juan Capa, CA||5-21.01.||Yes||3"||blade of three (3) inches or more in length|
|San Mateo Co. CA||3.16.010||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches (3”) or more in length,|
|Sierra Madre, CA||9.28.020||Yes||3"||any knife with a blade three inches or more in length|
|Temecula, CA||12.04.010 & 12.04.110||Yes||3"||having a blade of three inches or more in length|
|Windsor, CA||15-32||Yes||4"||Knife with a blade length in excess of four inches, not allowed in City Hall|
|West Covina, CA||15-32||Yes||4"||Knife with a blade length in excess of four inches, not allowed in City Hall|
|Westlake Vill., CA||4.3.005.||Yes||3"||carry in plain view on his or her person any knife having a blade of three or more inches|
Regarding carrying knives in publicly owned buildings, such as schools or airports, exceptions apply to law enforcement officers and only while on duty.
Summary of Knife Laws in California
If you live in California, you can own and carry knives as long as they are not in the forbidden category. Bail knives are also allowed for collection. Also, remember that butterfly knives and switchblades are permitted if the blade is not longer than two inches. However, one should watch out for harsher knife laws in San Francisco, Lose Angeles, and Sacramento cities.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.