Michigan Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

Michigan is a relatively knife-friendly state, especially after the October 2017 amendment that made significant changes to the existing law. As a knife owner, it is crucial to stay on the cutting edge, so this guide will summarize everything you need to know about Michigan knife laws.

Does Michigan Have Statewide Preemption on Knife Laws?

Michigan does not have statewide preemption on knife laws.

This means that local municipalities can have other knife restrictions. Therefore, it is important to consult a lawyer or law enforcement personnel to educate you about specific knife laws in any local town you plan to visit in Michigan.

Legal Knives in Michigan

In October 2017, the ban on switchblades and other automatic knives was repealed. However, out-the-front (OTF) knives with double-edged blades are still banned.

So, what knives are legal to own in Michigan? Here’s a list of legal knives in Michigan:

  • Pocket knives
  • Switchblades and other automatic knives
  • Butterfly or Balisong knives
  • Stabbing knives like daggers, dirks, and stilettos
  • Throwing knives
  • Bowies and other large knives
  • Disguised knives
  • Undetectable knives
  • Gravity knives

Illegal Knives in Michigan

Double-edged OTF (Out The Front) knives are illegal to own in Michigan.

Note that there is a difference between ownership and carrying. Michigan has several restrictions regarding how and where you can carry your knife (as you will read below).

Michigan Knife Definitions

To understand the Michigan knife carry laws better, you must learn some basic definitions. Note that some definitions are derived from case law.

  • Double-edged, non-folding stabbing instrument – a double-edged, non-folding stabbing instrument is exclusive of a knife, tool, implement, arrowhead, or artifact manufactured from stone.
  • Dangerous weapon – this is a common term found in Michigan knife laws along with other knives. But what does it entail? According to People v. Vaines, the court concluded that anyone carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to use it against someone for bodily harm is illegal. The prosecution must prove intent. This means that any knife can be considered a dangerous weapon.
  • Conceal carry – According to The State vs. Jones, a weapon is concealed when it is unidentifiable by ordinary observation by a person who comes into contact with the carrier in the usual associations of life.

Michigan Knife Carry Laws

With the above definitions in mind, let’s take a look at the knife carry laws in Michigan.

  • It is illegal to carry with unlawful intent a dirk, dagger, razor, stiletto, or knife with a blade longer than three inches.
  • You can open carry all legal knives as long as you do not have the intention to harm others.
  • You can carry a hunting knife, open or concealed.
  • It is illegal to conceal carry stabbing knives, a double-edged/non-folding stabbing instrument (any length), or any other dangerous weapon on or about a person.
  • It is illegal to carry stabbing knives, a double-edged/non-folding instrument (any length), or any other dangerous weapon concealed or openly in a vehicle operated or occupied by the person unless they are in their house, place of business, or other land owned by the person.
  • Carrying an automatic non-folding knife with a blade protruding out the front is illegal.
  • You can carry a spring-assisted, switchblade, or automatic knife with a folding blade.
  • It is illegal to carry a dangerous weapon in a weapon-free school zone. In this statute, weapon free school zone is defined as school property and a vehicle used to transport students to and from school property:
    • A school, as defined in this section, is any private, public, denominational or parochial institution offering developmental education from kindergarten to grade 12.
    • School property is a building, playing field, or any other property used by the school for school-intended activities and events. This is exclusive of colleges and universities.
    • Something important to note here is that colleges and universities are exempt from this law. This means every college and university in Michigan can have its own rules regarding the possession and carrying of knives.
  • It is illegal for a pupil to have a dangerous weapon in school, at school events or on school transport.

Exemptions

Michigan knife carry laws apply to everyone except:

  • Peace officers
  • Employees in public or private correctional centers
  • Military officers on active duty
  • Security guards and other security employees employed by the state
  • Members of the National Guard, US military reserves on active duty or doing a drill
  • Any organization authorized by the law to receive or buy weapons from the state or country
  • Motor carrier officers

Michigan Knife Length Laws

The law states that carrying a knife with a blade longer than three inches is illegal if you intend to use it unlawfully or harm others. Technically, this means that you can carry any knife regardless of length if you do not have ill intentions towards others.

The law further states that carrying stabbing knives, double-edged/non-folding instruments (of any length), or any dangerous weapon in a car is illegal.

We can interpret this to mean that all knives, regardless of length, cannot be carried in a vehicle because any knife can be considered a dangerous weapon.

The take-away from this is that as long as you have pure intentions, you can carry any legal knife but not in your car unless the car is on your property, land, or business.

Michigan Knife Laws by Demographic

Besides those exempted by the law from carrying and owning knives, it is also important to know if there are any restrictions by age or past criminal history.

How Old do You Have to be to Carry a Knife in Michigan?

There are no age-based restrictions on knife carry laws in Michigan.

Perhaps the only distinction is made under the statute referring to pupils, which is a school location restriction. The term pupil is not defined, but we understand the term’s general meaning.

The bottom line is that the knife carry laws apply to everybody regardless of age.

How Old do You Have to be to Buy a Knife in Michigan?

There are no age restrictions on the sale and transfer of knives in Michigan. All knives except OTFs are legal to own and carry as long as you do not have the intention to harm.

Can a Felon Carry a Knife in Michigan?

Generally, there are no laws restricting felons from carrying knives in Michigan. However, under the weapons-free zone statute, it is a crime for a convicted felon to violate section 223(2) in a weapons-free school zone.

Besides that, it is safe to assume that the general state laws apply to all citizens regardless of their criminal record.

Felons should consult their legal counsel or parole officer before carrying a knife or dangerous weapon in Michigan.

Michigan Concealed Knife Carry Laws

Michigan Knife laws are specific regarding open or conceal carry. The law clearly states that carrying a knife or dangerous weapon in a school is a felony regardless of how you carry it.

Can You Open Carry a Knife in Michigan?

You can openly carry all legal knives in the state of Michigan as long as you do not intend to harm others.

However, it is illegal to open carry a stabbing knife (like a dagger or dirk), or a double-blade/non-folding instrument (any length) on your person or in your car unless it is on your property or where you conduct business.

Can You Conceal Carry a Knife in Michigan?

According to the law, the only knife you can carry concealed is a hunting knife.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, understanding Michigan’s knife laws doesn’t seem overly complicated. With that being said, I’m just a normal dude, and working my way through all of the legal jargon was a grind.

So, while I did my best, always check your state website for the most up-to-date information!