Washington Knife Laws

Summary

Washington’s laws are a little bit difficult to understand, as they can be a bit vague.  Most of your concerns should be cleared up here, however.  There are some restricted knives in Washington and restrictions on conceal-carry.  However, it’s not the worst state in the world by any means.

What Kinds of Knives are Legal in Washington?

All knives except for switchblades and other knives that open via a spring are legal in Washington.  You can also open carry any knife.

  • You can own any knife that isn’t a switchblade or other spring-loaded knife
  • You can openly carry any legal knife except to a courtroom or school

What Kinds of Knives are Illegal in Washington?

Washington still has some archaic laws surrounding switchblades and similar, and they also restrict conceal-carrying when it comes to certain knives.

  • Switchblades and other blades that extend via a spring (this seems to include gravity knives) are illegal
  • You cannot bring a knife to school or into a courthouse
  • You cannot ‘furtively carry with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon’

What Does Furtively Mean?

The word ‘furtive’ is kind of odd in the law, so we’ll have to look to actual cases to determine what it means.  For that, we have no further to look that the 1995 case of The State of Washington vs Myles.  Myles, a sixteen-year-old girl, was found swearing at and threatening a group of people.  When the officer pat her down, she found a paring knife in her jacket pocket, allowing her to arrest Myles for possessing and concealing a dangerous weapon.

Myles was convicted, but she appealed, her lawyers arguing that the word ‘furtive’ in the law meant that she would have had to have been taking actions to conceal the knife.  Just having a knife, a kitchen knife at that, in her pocket at the time of the disturbance shouldn’t be enough for a conviction, especially since she never made a move for the knife or try to cover it up and further hide it from eyes.

The conviction was overturned but the prosecution decided to challenge it.  Eventually, the prosecution won because the court decided that keeping a knife in the jacket pocket was a strange place to keep a knife, therefore Myles was, in the court’s eyes, intending and ‘furtively’ concealing a knife.

What Constitutes a Dangerous Weapon?

(1) Every person who: (a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slungshot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife; (b) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon; or (c) Uses any contrivance or device for suppressing the noise of any firearm unless the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW. (2) "Spring blade knife" means any knife, including a prototype, model, or other sample, with a blade that is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, or any knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement. A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.

Relevant Statutes

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