Illinois Knife Laws


I’ve gotta say, Illinois is pretty crappy about knife laws.  A lot of their policies have to do with the violent crime rates in Chicago, but, as time shows again and again, making weapons illegal only stops law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.  This country survived for a long time without such laws and violent crime rates weren’t substantially higher than they are today.  Education, support, and strong social values stop crime.  Bans and legislation work about as well as a parent who screams at their kid to stop throwing a tantrum instead of giving him or her coping skills and reasonable expectations.

Okay, grandstanding done, Illinois’ laws are complicated.  Throwing stars and ballistic knives are illegal, period.  However, automatic knives, including switchblades, are legal if you have a FOID (Firearms Owners Identification) card.  Note that Illinois also doesn’t have a bias toward closure distinction, meaning that the law makes a distinction between a knife that remains closed most of the time and one that is often extended and ready for use.

What Kinds of Knives are Legal in Illinois?

All knives that aren’t ballistic knives or throwing stars are legal, though some need special permits to carry.  Knives that are legal include:

  • Disguised knives
  • Bowie knives
  • Balisong knives
  • Throwing knives

Remember to check local ordinances, as Illinois has many of them that may restrict these knives from being carried in certain cities.

What Kinds of Knives are Illegal in Illinois?

Illinois has complicated laws regarding who can carry knives and where.  There are also some banned knives and knives that require special permission to carry.

Banned, No Exception Knives:

  • Throwing stars
  • Ballistic knives

Need a FOID Card to Own

  • Automatic knives
  • Brass knuckles

Other Rules

  • You cannot carry a knife if you intend to harm someone
  • If you use a knife to commit a crime, you’re really in for it
  • It’s worse for you to be caught with a ballistic knife while wearing a mask
  • Don’t commit felonies with a knife and then hide it on public property

There are further restrictions in certain municipalities.  Check the local laws before you head out with your knife.

Relevant Statutes

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