I'm 13, and I am wondering if it would be legal to carry a karambit knife for self defense – in a sheath or folded? If laws for both are different, I would appreciate policies on both. If so, would I be allowed to conceal it? Or would it have to be in plain sight? Any specific blade length limits?

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    What research have you done?
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 10:49
  • You might review Kansas knife laws here. I don't think I've seen knife laws that stipulate age requirements. (But that doesn't mean there aren't more general laws pertaining to minors and weapons....)
    – feetwet
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 17:10
  • This type of knife is explained at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karambit
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 5:50
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    I would note that where you carry the knife is relevant. Almost every school district and private school, as well as many recreation centers and clubs and malls, would prohibit carrying knives for self-defense purposes and often would have very stiff penalties (e.g. zero tolerance expulsion from school) for doing so. And, police may feel justified in shooting you if you are carrying a knife. So, there is not one answer for all times and places. There are also many local ordinances as well as state laws on this topic, again implicating the where issue.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 5:54
  • Why would you carry a knife like that? Wouldn't it make much more sense if you just carried a pocket knife?
    – CDA
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


Knife laws in the United States are notoriously ambiguous, often vary at the municipality level, and enforcement can best be described as capricious. I can't put it better than this eye-opening answer I found on Quora:

Don't ask anybody what the law is about knives. Not even the police. There's so much misinformation floating around out there.


Check the law yourself. Not just state law, but local law for any county or city you stop in or pass through.

I was tasked with writing a weapons policy for my security department, my former employer. I checked the Code of Maryland Regulations and found a mess. Knives are considered tools, not weapons, unless and until one uses or intends to use a knife as a weapon; knives are legal regardless of blade length; folding knives may be carried concealed, but fixed knives must be carried open; switchblades and balisongs are not OK, but no mention of gravity knives, locking mechanisms, or assisted-open mechanisms.

I carried my S&W assisted-open knife everywhere, including into Baltimore City several times. Then Freddie Gray was arrested for carrying one and died in custody. A whole lot of people thought the arresting officer had made an unlawful arrest, based on the state law, including the Baltimore City prosecutor … until someone bothered to check the city law and found that assisted-open knives are illegal in Baltimore City. The arrest was a good one. And I left my knife in my car from then on whenever I went into that town.

(I have on occasion asked police about knife laws. In every case the officer has declined to answer whether a particular knife or carry practice was legal.)

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