Maryland Knife Laws

Summary

Maryland is fairly straightforward when it comes to owning lives, as it’s unrestricted.  However, things are different when it comes to carrying them.  This is because its definition of a dangerous weapon is basically anything that isn’t a pocket knife.  If your knife doesn’t fold into the handle, you cannot carry it concealed.

You should, however, check local ordinances before you head out with your knife.

What Kinds of Knives are Legal in Maryland?

This is the part where Maryland’s laws are straightforward.  There are no prohibited knives in Maryland.  You can own anything your heart desires.  That being said Maryland has some interesting restrictions on carrying.

  • You can legally own any kind of knife you wish
  • You can openly carry any knife you wish, so long as you don’t intend to harm someone (self-defense counts as harming someone, so you cannot carry a knife with the intent to defend yourself)
  • You can conceal carry a pen knife (folding knife) of any size so long as it doesn’t have an automatic opener

What Kinds of Knives are Illegal in Maryland?

You can own any knife you want, but you cannot conceal-carry any knife you want.  The laws are a bit archaic, as a dangerous weapon is defined in an odd way.

Dangerous Weapons in Maryland:

(a) Definitions. — (4) “Star knife” means a device used as a throwing weapon, consisting of several sharp or pointed blades arrayed as radially disposed arms about a central disk. (5) (i) “Weapon” includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku. (ii) “Weapon” does not include: 1. a handgun; or 2. a penknife without a switchblade. (c) Prohibited. — (1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person. (2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner. (3) (i) This paragraph applies in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Cecil County, Harford County, Kent County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, Talbot County, Washington County, and Worcester County. (ii) A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not, except while: 1. on a bona fide hunting trip; or 2. engaged in or on the way to or returning from a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity. (d) Penalties. — (1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both. (2) For a person convicted under subsection (c)(1) or (2) of this section, if it appears from the evidence that the weapon was carried, concealed or openly, with the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another, the court shall impose the highest sentence of imprisonment prescribed.

The law about says that dirk knives, Bowie knives, switchblades, throwing stars, metal knuckles, and razors fall under the dangerous weapons category.  What about the other kinds of knives?  I would say that you should err on the side of caution, but it’s up to the court to prove that your knife is dangerous and serves no other purpose other than to harm others.

  • You cannot conceal carry a pen knife with an automatic opener
  • You cannot conceal a knife that’s classified as dangerous
  • Minors cannot carry a ‘dangerous weapon’ between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise unless on a hunting trip or engaged in civic or military duty.
  • Don’t bring your knife to school

Relevant Statutes

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