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

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 11:18 pm

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wisconsin is known for its distinct stance on knife laws, ensuring a balance between individual rights and public safety. If you are keen on understanding the legal intricacies surrounding the possession, sale, and carrying of knives in the Badger State, you are at the right place. In this article, we delve into the latest updates on Wisconsin knife laws, covering the types of knives you can legally own and carry, age restrictions, and the penalties associated with violating these laws.

Our Top Rated “50-State-Legal” Knives

*These knives are listed based on their broad legality across states, but always consult your local laws before making a purchase.

Does Wisconsin Have Statewide Preemption Knife Laws?

Statewide preemption is a legal framework where state laws supersede or preempt local laws, ensuring uniform regulations across the state. This is particularly important for knife laws as it prevents a mishmash of local laws that could potentially confuse knife owners moving from one locality to another within the state.

In 2016, Wisconsin adopted a statewide knife law preemption, making the state’s laws on knives uniform across all local jurisdictions. According to Wisconsin State Statute 66.0409(2), no local government can enact or enforce ordinances or resolutions regulating knives more restrictively than the state law.

Types of Knives Allowed in Wisconsin

Pocket Knives: Pocket knives are not only the most common type of knives but also fully legal to own and carry in Wisconsin. They are typically characterized by a folding blade of less than four inches.

Switchblades: Switchblades, also known as automatic knives, were legalized in Wisconsin in 2016. They are now legal to own and carry without any size restriction.

Balisongs: Also known as butterfly knives, balisongs are legal to own and carry in Wisconsin, with no specific restrictions on size or design elements.

Carrying Restrictions for Pocket Knives in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, you can carry a knife either openly or concealed, regardless of the type or blade length. However, the liberty to carry a knife does not extend to individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm, such as convicted felons or those subject to restraining orders. Furthermore, carrying knives is prohibited in certain sensitive locations like schools and government buildings.

Age Restrictions for Knife Ownership in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, individuals aged 18 and above are legally allowed to own a knife. While minors under the age of 18 may possess a knife under certain circumstances with parental permission or supervision, they are not allowed to purchase one.

Exceptions to the Rules in Wisconsin

Exceptions are limited and specific. For instance, carrying a knife on school premises is generally prohibited. However, an exception may be made if the knife is being used as part of a school-sanctioned activity. Additionally, minors may carry a knife while engaging in hunting or fishing activities with parental supervision, provided all applicable laws are followed.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws

Violating knife laws in Wisconsin is a serious offense, classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Offenders may face up to 9 months in jail, fines up to $10,000, or both.

FAQs in Relation to Wisconsin Knife Law

Is carrying a knife legal in Wisconsin

Yes, carrying a knife is generally legal in Wisconsin, with some restrictions based on the individual’s legal status and location.

Do you need a license to carry a knife in Wisconsin?

No, a license is not required to carry a knife in Wisconsin.

Are switchblade knives illegal in Wisconsin?

No, switchblade knives have been legal in Wisconsin since 2016.

How old do you have to be to buy a knife in Wisconsin age?

The legal age to purchase a knife in Wisconsin is 18.

Wisconsin State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Wisconsin’s Knife Laws

Significant Court Cases:

Case TitleSummary
State v. Hermann, 2015 WI App 97A law banning switchblades, even for self-defense at home, was found to violate the 2nd Amendment​
State v. KeithDefined three criteria for what constitutes a concealed weapo​n
Wisconsin Knife Works v. National Metal Crafters, 781 F.2d 1280A case from the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit involving a dispute between knife manufacturer​

Timeline of Major Changes:

  • 1959:
  • 1987:
    • Wisconsin Attorney General opinion expanded the prohibition to include butterfly knives.
  • 2015:
    • April 14: Law passed providing more legal freedom to own and carry knives.
    • Later in 2015: Court of Appeals held that the prohibition against switchblade knives violated the Second Amendment in a specific case.
    • Wisconsin Act 149 repealed Wis. Stat. section 941.24, removing the ban on switchblades and butterfly knives.
  • 2016:
    • January 21: AB 142 passed, removing all restrictions on switchblades and concealed carry of knives from Wisconsin statutes.
    • February 6: Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 142 into law, removing restrictions on carrying knives.
  • 2018:
    • A bill was signed clarifying the state’s knife laws, including regulations on carrying concealed weapons without a permit or with harmful intent.


Understanding the knife laws in Wisconsin is crucial for anyone looking to buy or carry a knife within the state. Being knowledgeable about the types of knives that are legal, the restrictions on carrying, and the age requirements for ownership can help ensure you stay within the confines of the law. Let’s work together to ensure that Wisconsin’s knife laws remain clear, concise, and reflective of the needs of its citizens.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Comment