First of all, there’s some knives are always illegal to possess in public. Secondly, there’s some types of knives that you’re allowed to have, you’re allowed to carry in public, but only if you do so openly and visibly. Third, there’s categories of knives that you’re allowed to carry either openly or concealed. And finally, fourth, there are some places that have restrictions such that you can never carry knives there, such as airports and schools and courthouses.
Under California law, certain knives are illegal under any circumstance. You can’t carry them openly or concealed. Examples of these knives are ballistic knives, switchblade knives, spring loaded knives,
belt buckle knives, cane swords, gravity knives, lipstick case knives, and undetectable knives, which is described as knives that cannot be detected going through a metal detector.
There are certain types of knives that can be carried openly and visibly but not concealed. In California, these types of knives are called dirks or daggers. And this is any knife that can be ready use as a stabbing weapon and can cause great bodily injury or death. Examples of these types of knives include daggers, stilettos, chef’s knives, ice picks, knitting needles, and scissors.
There are some types of knives that you’re allowed to carry openly or concealed. This category generally includes folding knives other than switch blades, as long as they’re closed and in a locked position, examples would be box cutters, pocket knives, Swiss army knives, and utility knives. What distinguishes this category of utility knives which are legal from switch blades, which are always illegal is that with utility knives, you have to use pressure in order to open the knife from its closed position. Whereas if the knife opens automatically with the press of a button or the flick of a wrist, then it would be deemed a switch blade, again a knife that’s always illegal to carry.
There’s also laws in California restricting the places that you can bring a knife. They include any state or local public building and any meetings open to the public. It also includes any K-12 schools or any universities or college. Other examples where you’re precluded from bringing in a knife includes courthouses, city halls, and airports.