This article was created to be a brief synopsis of the law according to my understanding and is not legal advice. Knifeade is not a legal service provider. Using this site does not create a client/lawyer relationship. Because knife laws can be interpreted differently by different people and entities it is recommended that you consult legal counsel for specific information and guidance.
Washington knife law can be confusing for those who are not familiar with it. This guide will provide a summary of the laws in plain English, making it easier for you to understand. We will cover what kind of knives are legal, who can carry them, how old you have to be to buy and carry knives, and any other knife laws unique to the state. So whether you are a resident of Washington or just visiting, make sure you know the current knife laws before you head out with your blade!
Is There Statewide Preemption?
In Washington, there is no statewide preemption of knife laws, which means that localities are free to enact their own ordinances and regulations regarding knives. This can make it difficult to know what the law is in each specific area. However, there are some general statewide laws we can discuss that apply to all residents and visitors.
If you are concerned about the knife laws in a specific city you’ll need to contact the city itself for guidance.
Who Can Buy And Carry A Knife In Washington?
In the state of Washington, there is no minimum age to purchase or carry a knife. However, it is important to note that if you are under the age of 18, you may be subject to additional restrictions when carrying a knife in public. For example, some cities may have ordinances prohibiting minors from carrying knives on school grounds.
Can A Minor Own A Knife In Washington?
There is no statewide law in Washington that prohibits minors from owning knives. However, as mentioned above, some cities may have ordinances that do prohibit minors from carrying knives on school grounds or in other public places.
Concealed Knife Carry Laws In Washington
It is illegal to carry a concealed knife in Washington state. This means that the blade must not be completely hidden from view or detectable by ordinary observation. The only exception to this law is if you are carrying the knife for use in a lawful occupation, trade, or profession. If you are caught carrying a concealed knife, you may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Open Knife Carry Laws In Washington
There is no state law in Washington that specifically prohibits the open carry of knives. However, some localities may have ordinances that regulate open carry. For example, the city of Seattle prohibits the open carry of any weapon that is capable of causing “fear or alarm” in others.
What Kinds Of Knives Are Legal In Washington?
Many of Washington’s knife laws center more around the “intent” of a knife rather than the style of the knife itself. For example, bowie knives, dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other “dangerous weapons” are all considered legal to open carry so long as they are not carried in a way that may cause others alarm.
For specific knives, you’ll want to contact your police department or a local advisor to get a specific interpretation of the law.
Is There A Knife “Length” Limit In Washington?
There is no statewide limit on the length of knives that can be carried in Washington. However, some localities may have ordinances that regulate knife length. For example, the city of Seattle prohibits any person from carrying a knife with a blade longer than three and a half inches.
What Kinds Of Knives Are Illegal In Washington?
In Washington, it is illegal to own or carry a switchblade or other spring blade knife. This includes knives that open automatically by gravity or centrifugal force. It is also illegal to own or carry a balisong knife, also known as a butterfly knife. Balisongs are knives with two handles that counter-rotate around the blade, allowing them to be opened and closed quickly.
Consequences For Violating Knife Laws In Washington?
The penalties for violating knife laws in Washington depend on the specific law that was broken. For example, the penalty for carrying a concealed knife is a misdemeanor, which can result in up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000.
Are There Any Knife Laws Unique To Washington?
One unique aspect of Washington’s knife laws is that they do not apply to Native Americans on tribal lands. This exemption is based on the treaties signed between the federal government and the tribes. These treaties give the tribes the right to self-governance, which includes regulating knives on their lands.
Specific Questions About Washington Knife Law
Can a Felon Carry A Knife In Washington?
No, it is illegal for a felon to carry a knife in Washington state. This is true even if the felony was not related to violence.
Can You Carry A Knife In A Bar In Washington?
Yes, you can carry a knife in a bar so long as the blade is not concealed. However, some bars may have their own policies that prohibit weapons, so it is always best to check with the establishment before carrying a knife.
Are Switchblades Legal In Washington?
No, switchblades are illegal to own or carry in Washington state. This includes knives that open automatically by gravity or centrifugal force.
Do You Need A Permit To Carry A Knife In Washington?
No, you do not need a permit to carry a knife in Washington state. However, it is illegal to carry a concealed knife without a valid reason (such as for use in a lawful occupation, trade, or profession).
Are Butterfly Knives Legal In Washington?
No, butterfly knives (also known as balisongs) are illegal to own or carry in Washington state. Balisongs, also known as butterfly knives, are knives with two handles that counter-rotate around the blade, allowing them to be opened and closed quickly.
Can I Open Carry A Sword In Washington?
Yes, you can open carry a sword in Washington state so long as the blade is not concealed. However, some localities may have ordinances that regulate knife length. For example, the city of Seattle prohibits any person from carrying a knife with a blade longer than three and a half inches which, according to my estimation, is a pretty short sword! Maybe a keychain variety?
Are Automatic Knives Legal In Washington?
No, automatic knives (including OTF knives and switchblades) are illegal to own or carry in Washington state.
In conclusion, it is important to know the knife laws of Washington state before carrying a knife. Failing to learn the laws can lead to serious penalties, including jail time. If you have any specific questions about Washington knife law, it is best to consult an attorney since I’m not one and am just a normal dude trying to muddle through some legalese.