Iowa Knife Laws


Iowa is fairly relaxed when it comes to knives.  You can own anything that isn’t a ballistic knife and you can open carry any knife that’s legal.  Most of Iowa’s restrictions lie in concealed carry.  This is because Iowa has a rather broad definition of ‘dangerous weapon’ in regard to knives, but you can still own and carry them openly.

What Kinds of Knives are Legal in Iowa?

Everything except ballistic knives can be owned in Iowa.  This includes knives such as switchblades, disguised knives, Bowie knives, and stilettos.

You can also open carry any knife you legally own.  Even if it falls under the definition of a dangerous weapon, you can still carry it around with you.

What Kinds of Knives are Illegal in Iowa?

  • Ballistic knives are illegal
  • You cannot bring your knife to school
  • You cannot conceal and carry a dangerous weapon
  • You cannot carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school, courthouse, or other areas of judicial functions

For that last bit, it’s helpful to define a dangerous weapon.  For Iowa, this means anything with a blade more than 5″, daggers, stilettos, switchblades, and razors.

A “dangerous weapon” is any instrument or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or animal, and which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being when used in the manner for which it was designed, except a bow and arrow when possessed and used for hunting or any other lawful purpose. Additionally, any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being, is a dangerous weapon. Dangerous weapons include but are not limited to any offensive weapon, pistol, revolver, or other firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length, or any portable device or weapon directing an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person.

Relevant Statutes

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