Knife Laws in Massachusetts

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Knife laws in Massachusetts can be quite confusing at first glance. However, as you dig deeper, you realize they make sense, and everything is straightforward. But before getting there, you need to go through hundreds of words and sentences in the law codes.

So here is everything you need to know about knife laws in Massachusetts in plain terms.

What knives are legal to own in Massachusetts?

Downtown, Boston, Massachusetts
Downtown, Boston, Massachusetts

Bali knives also referred to as butterfly knives, are legal in Massachusetts. Switchblades are also permitted and most other types of automatic knives. While banned in other states, ballistic knives are allowed to own in Massachusetts, not to mention push or stabbing knives – such as stilettos, daggers, or dirks.

You can own even knives with brass knuckles legally. Plus, disguised knives, such as lipstick knives, will never get you in trouble either. Another controversial category of knives includes bowie knives, illegal in some states but are legal in Massachusetts. Finally, throwing knives and stars are also allowed to own.

What knives are illegal to own in Massachusetts?

There are no bans on any knives in Massachusetts. So you can own anything without getting worried that you might end up in trouble.

What are the limits on carry?

Carrying knives comes with some restrictions, and this is where most confusion kicks in.

You can legally carry kitchen knives, Swiss army knives, and folding knives, as long as they are used in ways that do not make them dangerous.

But some knives are illegal to carry, whether in the open or concealed. For example, switchblades, ballistic knives, knuckle knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos, or double edge knives, or devices that enable a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, cannot be carried at all, open or concealed.

You can carry automatic knives only if the blade is shorter than 1.5 inches.

It is also illegal to carry knives that might be considered dangerous while disturbing the peace – room for interpretation here.

Concealed Carry

No other restrictions apply to concealed carry other than the general rules applicable for carrying.

Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances

Knives are prohibited in schools, regardless of the level. They are also banned from school-related activities and school transportation.

Restrictions on Sale or Transfer

You cannot manufacture, sell or transfer swords, slung shots, bludgeons, or knives, as well as other similar weapons.

Is there a statewide pre-emption?

There is not a statewide pre-emption in Massachusetts.

Major Cities in Massachusetts with Knife Ordinances

Boston does not allow carrying knives with blades longer than 2.5 inches unless you are a hunter, fisherman, or a different profession and you use the knife in work.

People in Salem are also banned from carrying knives with blades longer than 2.5 inches.

City, StateLaw Title/ Chapter/ SectionConcealed Carry LegalMax Size RestrictionShort description from the law
Boston, MA16-45.1Yes2.5"having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half (2½ ) inches,
Cambridge, MA9.16.110Yesgive or loan to any person under eighteen (18) years of age any …lock back knife
Lawrence, MA9.12.040Yes2.5"any knife having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half inches, (except when actually engaged in hunting or activities fishing or in going directly to and/or returning from such
New Bedford, MASec. 17-8Yes2.5"No person, except as permitted by law, shall carry on his or her person, or carry in a vehicle under his or her control, any knife having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half (2½) inches
Revere, MA9.20.020Yes2.5"knife having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half inches
Salem, MA24-5.Yes2.5"any knife having any type of blade in excess of 2 1/2 inches, except when actually engaged in hunting,
Somerville, MA9-96.Yes2.5"any knife having any type of blade in excess of 2 1/2 inches, except when actually engaged in hunting,


There are no exceptions, not even for military or law enforcement staff.

Summary of Knife Laws in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is permissive when it comes to ownership but not friendly in carrying weapons in open or concealed. The critical dimension to remember is 1.5 inches for carrying automatic knives. Some restrictions also apply to the sale and transfer of knives.