Florida has much to offer when it comes to outdoor activities, and there may be some good reasons why you want to have a knife with you.
Knives come in handy for all types of occasions. For example, a knife is handy to have when you are a hiker and outdoor enthusiast wanting to shave tinder in the wood. But also as part of your job, you may need to carry a knife on your person all the time.
Whatever you want to use your knife for, it’s important to understand the law as to what knives you are allowed to legally own and carry with you, and for what purpose.
What Knives Are Legal To Own In Florida?
There are a number of different knives and weapons you are legally allowed to own in Florida. These include:
- Balisong knives, also called butterfly knives
- Belt knives, cane knives, and other disguised knives
- Bowie knives and other large knives
- Throwing stars and throwing knives
- Undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors)
Many US states, including Florida, don’t allow you to own ballistic knives. These knives can feature a detachable, spring-loaded blade that can be shot outward when a switch is activated. It’s a kind of gun that shoots a knife blade.
In Florida, the possession, sale, making or importing of a ballistic knife is a misdemeanor or felony crime.
The Legality Of Carrying A Knife
The legality of carrying knives heavily depends on three main factors, including the type of knife, the blade and how you carry the knife.
Type Of Knife And Purpose
Fixed Blade Knives
With a fixed blade knife, also known as a sheath knife, the blade doesn’t slide or fold. As the blade is solidly fixed inside the handle without any moving parts, this type of know is sturdy and strong.
Folding Blade Knives
Folding blade knives, commonly called pocket knives, are foldable knives with one or move blades that fold into the handle.
Sometimes folding knives are also known as jackknife or penknife.
Butterfly knives are essentially a kind of folding pocketknife that originated in the Phillipines. That’s why this type of knife is also usually called Balisong or Batangas knife.
A butterfly knife has two handles counter-rotating around the tang, so when it’s closed, the blade is concealed within the grooves in the handles.
Multi-Purpose Tool Knives
Multi-purpose tools come in different shapes and sizes. They usually include one or more different knife blades, scissors, and sometimes even screwdrivers.
Multi-purpose tool knives combine a range of features and functions in one single hand tool unit.
How A Knife Is Carried
In the US, you have a constitutional right to carry a knife or a firearm. However, each state has its own laws and regulations what constitutional carry looks like.
In some states, you don’t need a permit for open carry, while other states require you to have a permit for concealed carry.
What Is Open Carry?
In some situations having access to your knife, e.g. on a holster, can be life-saving. Whether you are hiking out in the woods or just strolling around the suburbs, open carry allows you to carry your knife openly in public.
This can deter criminals from targeting you as most criminals don’t attack people who are armed, but it can also help in a dangerous situation, for example, wildlife attacks.
When you have your knife quickly available, you don’t lose any valuable draw time to save lives.
What Is Concealed Carry?
Concealed carry means that your knife is not visible to the public eye, e.g. in your pocket or bag.
This can have some disadvantages. For example, you are not clearly showing that you are armed, so the deterrent factor isn’t there. However, for any threats you encounter, you can protect yourself knowing you carry a knife.
The type of knife blade can also impact any legal restrictions of what knife you can legally carry in Florida.
Knives with a serrated, or toothlike, edge are great for cutting through any tough surfaces, including crusty bread or bark.
Serrated knives are similar to a saw. Their teeth catch and rip as the knife slides thorough whatever you are cutting.
A knife that has a straight, or slightly curved, blade along the cutting edge is handy for cutting foods that are either soft or firm, such as meats, vegetables and fruit.
Most knives have a straight blade as this is the most versatile type of blade, which can be used for many different purposes.
Semi Serrated Blade
If you’re looking for the best of both straight and serrated blades, then a partially serrated edge is the way to go.
This type of blade allows you to keep the sawing ability on your knife without resharpening.
Florida Butterfly Knife Laws
As we have seen already, there are different factors that influence what knives you can own, carry and sell. Here are some more on the details for butterfly knife laws in Florida.
Open Carry In Florida
Florida allows you to own and open carry almost all type of knife, except for ballistic knives as they are classed as dangerous weapon.
Non-Licensed Concealed Carry In Florida
Some knives and tools can also be concealed carried without a permit.
Blade instruments like box cutters, razors and multi-tools with a blade measuring less than 4 inches are generally fine to carry in your pocket or bag, as long as they are used for utility or work purposes.
Concealed Carry In Florida
There’s one law that applies to all knives and blades in the sunshine state: Statute 790.1 of Title XLVI (Crimes), Weapons and Firearms, 2018 Florida Statutes. This important legislation refers to the concealed carry of weapons in Florida:
“…a person who carries a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”
This applies to firearms, knives, metallic knuckles, clubs, tear gas guns, chemical weapons and any other harmful instruments that could be used to harm someone.
The Florida Statute 790.1 covers all types of knives and blades, including pocket knives and butterfly knives.
However, as with many blanket laws, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, this law doesn’t apply to anyone licensed to carry a concealed knife.
Not largely applicable to knives, carrying certain items for lawful self-defense also doesn’t violate the Florida Statute 790.1 law. These self-defense items include:
- Self-defense chemical sprays
- Nonlethal stun guns
- Dart-firing stun guns
- Nonlethal electric weapons
- Any other nonlethal devices designed for defensive purposes only
License For Carrying A Concealed Knife In Florida
If you want to legally carry a concealed knife in Florida, you need to have a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License.
You must be over the age of 21 to apply for your CWFL. You need to apply in person at any Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regional office or any authorized Florida tax collector’s office.
Make sure to have your state-issued ID and a copy of a training document or similar certificate with you.
You will also have to pay various fees:
- Fingerprint processing fee
- Initial license fee
- Renewal license fee
- Revised or duplicate license fee
- New application fee
- Renewal application fee
All retired and active law enforcement officers, as well as judges, are exempt from the above feeds. Out-of-state residents and consular security officials may however be subject to higher costs.
To apply for a concealed weapons license, you must be a United States citizen or a permanent resident.
You cannot have been committed to a mental institution in the past fives years, and you should not have been convicted of a felony or crime.
Concealed knife licenses are valid for seven years from the date of issue, and you must carry the license along with your ID at all times when you are in possession of a concealed knife.
If you have committed a violent misdemeanor or crime in the past, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may choose to reject your application.
The department keeps a record of all CWFL license holders in the state, so you can also view this online via the Florida Crime Information Center’s website at any time upon request by a law enforcement agency.
Places Where You’re Prohibited From Carrying A Concealed Knife
It’s important to keep in mind that even licensed concealed carry isn’t broadly legal in Florida.
Schools below college level do not allow concealed knives or any other weapons. At colleges, only registered students and employees are allowed to carry a concealed knife with a license.
It’s also illegal to carry a concealed knife, even with a license, in establishments devoted to consuming and dispensing alcoholic drinks.
There are a number of other places that prohibit openly carried and concealed knives that are outlawed in Florida:
- Detention facilities such as jails or prisons
- Courthouses and courtrooms
- Career centers
- Highway patrol stations
- Any place where weapons are prohibited by federal law
- Meeting places of governing bodies of counties, municipalities, public school districts or special districts
- Meeting places of state legislature or state legislature committees
- Police stations
- Passenger terminals and sterile areas of airports
- Polling places
- School administration buildings
- Sheriff’s stations
- Any places of nuisance where gang activity or prostitution take place
Florida Knife Laws For Minors
While ballistic knives are illegal to own and carry no matter what your age is in Florida, other knives fall under more lenient rules. However, there are specific laws in place regarding minors and knives.
First off, it’s illegal to sell any weapons, including knives, to persons under the age of 18 in the absence of an adult parent or guardian.
Adults can’t rent, lend, sell or otherwise transfer knives to minors in any capacity without the approval of their guardian or parents.
This law applies not only to knives but to any dangerous weapon.
In addition to those under 18 years old, this law also applies to those defined as a person of unsound mind.
There is, however, an exception under Florida law. “Ordinary pocketknives” are allowed for sale to those under 18.
Unfortunately, the term “ordinary pocketknife” is undefined, and therefore falls under the decision of juries and judges in the state to decide on the difference between pocketknife and any other blade.
Some court cases in the past have defined an ordinary pocketknife as a knife as “uncommon or extraordinary” with no double-edged blades, serrations or locking mechanisms.
In other cases, judges cited the blade length as being less than 4 inches as a common definition of a pocketknife.
Florida Knife Law Violations And Punishment
As defined by the Florida Statute 790.1 law, illegally carrying any type of concealed knife or weapon in Florida can incur a serious misdemeanor of the first degree.
In the state of Florida, a first-degree misdemeanor can be punished with fines of up to $10,000, plus jail time of up to one year.
If you are found guilty of selling or otherwise transferring knives to minors without their parental permission, you also face charges for first-degree misdemeanor, and accordingly a high fine and time in prison.
While most people casually carrying a knife openly aren’t at risk of persecution in Florida, knife enthusiasts should check with their local council and municipalities on the regulations regarding knives and other weapons, as these rules may differ from state law.
How To Handle A Butterfly Knife Safely
The Balisong, also commonly known as butterfly knife, is a bladed instrument and weapon originally from the Philippines.
There, it is used on the islands as a tool as well as for fighting.
Butterfly knives consist of a two-piece handle and a blade. The handles close in on the blade to conceal it in grooves, and they reveal the blade when the knife is opened.
Over the past years, the Balisong knife has become widely popular across the globe. It has even become a popularly featured weapon in movies.
The flashy moves shown in films have attracted people to perform their own tricks with the instrument.
Together with understanding thee Balisong’s legal status in some countries, you should also know that just like any weapon when not handled in the right way, bufferfly knives can be dangerous.
However, many people enjoy flipping knives for fun, and it can also improve your dexterity and hand coordination.
If you want to learn how to flip a butterfly knife, you should start by using a fake knife first. They are fully legal and the blade is not sharp, so there is no risk of injury.
Just like with any weapon, good training is essential to find out how to use them properly without hurting yourself or someone else. Safety should be a key priority at any time when you handle a butterfly knife.
Find out more about how to handle a butterfly knife safely on WikiHow’s article on How To Flip A Butterfly Knife.
For some fun tricks and flips with your Balisong, take a look at this article on Easy Balisong Butterfly Knife Basics and Tricks.
For the most part, knife laws in Florida are straightforward and easy. As long as you don’t own or use a ballistic knife, you are safe to openly carry your knife with you.
If you want to conceal carry your knife with a blade length of under 4 inches, you will need to apply for a permit and pay the appropriate license fees.
It’s important to also be aware of your local laws in your city and area. In addition to state law, the majority of cities in Florida have clear guidelines on what is illegal and legal when it comes to knives and other weapons.