Assisted Opening Knives > California Assisted Knife Laws and Legality

California Assisted Knife Laws and Legality

California’s laws are some of the most explicit on record regarding knives. California’s statutes make distinctions between mechanical knives, such as switchblades, and assisted-opening knives, which operate by the user’s thumb pressure opening the knife with some mechanical assistance.

The California statute does allow the possession of a knife of any length that is constituted an assisted opening knife; however, California makes a distinction among the types of knives based not on the opening mechanism but the closure mechanism. Recent legislation sponsored by Senator Betty Karnette explains and identifies these knives. The purpose of this legislation was to make sure that useful “one-handed opening knives” were not outlawed.

California law states that when a knife closes, it must have a “bias towards closure” or “detent” which means that some mechanism helps to keep the knife closed and resists opening. If the knife has this, it cannot be considered illegal. (Note: To the best of our knowledge, all of the knives reviewed on this site meet this requirement.)

There are no length limits for knives under California law.

Under California law, carrying a prohibited knife in a concealed manner is illegal. Concealed means that a police officer cannot see it on your person–it could be in a pocket, purse, glove compartment, or shoe. You are allowed to carry, concealed in your pocket, a non-switchblade pocket knife of any length, including any assisted-opening knife, as long as it is in the closed position. You may not carry a fixed-blade knife, nor may you carry a switchblade or gravity knife as outlined above. Knives that are disguised as any other object are also completely banned.

At public schools, no knives over 2.5 inches are allowed on campus in anyone’s possession, and no concealed knives are allowed of any type. At colleges or other post-secondary schools, no fixed-blade knives are allowed of any length, and only the knives mentioned above are allowed to be carried legally.

In your home, you can be in possession of a knife of any length, provided it is not mechanical. Any assisted-opening knife falls into the category of allowable knives, no matter what the length.

Disclaimer: Laws are constantly changing, only a lawyer can provide you with specific advice to rely on. We are not responsible if the info above becomes inaccurate.

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