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Thread: Maryland knife laws.

  1. #1

    Maryland knife laws.


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    So when I first got my buck 110 I read up a little bit on knife laws and it said that any knife that folds into the blade and isn't a switchblade that its considered a pen knife which there is no legal length to them. Which means I can EDC my 110 right? Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Another question I have is, is it legal to carry a fixed blade on me? I don't nessisarily think I will but one time when I first got my buck 119 and I put it in the sheath and put it on my belt and ended up going to get a drink with my brother and told him that I can't go into buy them because I have it on me and he said how stupid it is that I carry it with me and I told him I wouldn't carry it all the time because I thought they are illegal to carry with you. He said that his friend carries a fixed blade with him everyday, now just because his friend carries one doesnt mean its legal right? I just wanted to make sure.

    Thanks
    --Zach

  2. #2
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    Let's start with "I'm Not A Lawyer".

    But my buddy is a cop, and he says MD doesn't have a length limit on folding knives.

    And I think you can carry a fixed blade, as long as it's not concealed. That might not include going to a bar, though.

  3. #3
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    Zach your definition of penknife is indeed spot on. Maryland has no length limit on non-automatic folders and this was established in Mackall V. State 1978.

    This same case was invoked in a lawsuit known as Sorrell v. McGuigan 2002. McGuigan, a police officer, arrested Sorrell for carrying a folding knife (the reason for the search was honest mistaken identity). Sorrell was never prosecuted, sued McGuigan for false arrest and won. The judge pointed out very bluntly that McGuigan was completely wrong about the law and cited all the case law showing that the "penknife" exception is pretty rock solid.
    I have heard some cities have knife legislation, but I have yet to find any that restrict things more than the state.

    Fixed blades are big unknown. You can carry them openly, but concealed is the problem. I was just talking to a fellow today privately who was arrested for carrying two Boye Basics, which are very small fixed blades. He ran a stop sign and the cop asked if he had any weapons in the car. He volunteered his Boye's (If this is you, Don't DO THAT!) which were concealed under his shirt on his belt. He got taken in for carrying a dangerous weapon. "Bowie knives" are illegal to carry concealed, but this term has no definition in law. I don't know the outcome of this poor fellow's case because he has not been tried yet, but food for thought.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by glistam View Post
    Zach your definition of penknife is indeed spot on. Maryland has no length limit on non-automatic folders and this was established in Mackall V. State 1978.

    This same case was invoked in a lawsuit known as Sorrell v. McGuigan 2002. McGuigan, a police officer, arrested Sorrell for carrying a folding knife (the reason for the search was honest mistaken identity). Sorrell was never prosecuted, sued McGuigan for false arrest and won. The judge pointed out very bluntly that McGuigan was completely wrong about the law and cited all the case law showing that the "penknife" exception is pretty rock solid.
    I have heard some cities have knife legislation, but I have yet to find any that restrict things more than the state.

    Fixed blades are big unknown. You can carry them openly, but concealed is the problem. I was just talking to a fellow today privately who was arrested for carrying two Boye Basics, which are very small fixed blades. He ran a stop sign and the cop asked if he had any weapons in the car. He volunteered his Boye's (If this is you, Don't DO THAT!) which were concealed under his shirt on his belt. He got taken in for carrying a dangerous weapon. "Bowie knives" are illegal to carry concealed, but this term has no definition in law. I don't know the outcome of this poor fellow's case because he has not been tried yet, but food for thought.
    Now this will probably sound like a stupid question but what do you mean by concealed? Like completely hidden as if I were carrying my Buck 119 and you could see the sheath would it be considered concealed? I don't know really.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by DutchV View Post
    And I think you can carry a fixed blade, as long as it's not concealed. That might not include going to a bar, though.
    Well when I said going to get drinks I didn't mean going to a bar we are both under 21 I meant going to sheetz to get mountain dews

  6. #6
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    I chose to go the reasonable route when it comes to knives. I don't volunteer my knife at any time as a weapon but as a tool first of all. Let the officer decide what it will be at that time. If he says something like, " I will let you go if you leave this behind', for heaven's sake bust the blade off! He is just looking for as freebie. I carry the smallest knife I feel comfortable with. Why? Because I have seen first hand the effects of a nutjob with a scalpel (1/4 inch long blade). My adopted uncle taught martial arts and self defense for years (practical) and he only carried a small 1 inch sheath blade when he went out. He said a slash to the carotid and any of the brachial arteries at the same time would warrant a person to seriously decide if they would continue to fight. Get a clip put on your folder that would allow you to clip it to your inside pants pocket. The clip showing would not suprise anyone except at night so you should be good there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zach2556 View Post
    Now this will probably sound like a stupid question but what do you mean by concealed? Like completely hidden as if I were carrying my Buck 119 and you could see the sheath would it be considered concealed? I don't know really.
    Certainly not a stupid question as this gives knife enthusiasts like us fits.

    (All folders can be concealed legally, so that's not the problem.)

    "Concealed" is poorly defined in law, particularly for Maryland.

    In Polk v Maryland, 2008, a man was arrested for an alleged "bowie knife" in his car. They discussed the matter at length and had some useful things to say:
    By a recognized test, a weapon is concealed if it is so situated as not to be discernible by ordinary observation by those near enough to see it if it were not concealed who would come into contact with the possessor in the usual associations of life, but absolute invisibility is not required; since ordinary observation does not extend to a search unusually careful, thorough or detailed, made because of suspicion that contraband which is not visible by ordinary observation may in actuality be present.
    ...
    In the case of a knife, moreover, its handle is most assuredly a part of the weapon, just as the handle of a revolver or a rifle is a part of the weapon. A knife is not ipso facto concealed because its blade is in its sheath, any more than a six-gun is concealed because its barrel is in the holster or a sword concealed because its blade is in the scabbard. Though drawing an inference, perhaps, the reasonable observer knows when he has seen a knife, a six-gun, or a sword. Concealment "should be made of sterner stuff."
    The short answer is it should be obvious to a [None-LEO] person passing by you that you have a sheath knife.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=glistam;7341206]Certainly not a stupid question as this gives knife enthusiasts like us fits.

    (All folders can be concealed legally, so that's not the problem.)
    [QUOTE]



    So just to be 100 percent certain I can carry my buck 110 in a sheath sideways on my belt and cops cant say a dang thing, and is it illegal for a person under the age of 16 to carry a knife, now I only heard this from 1 person no one else said anything but I'm just being certain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zach2556 View Post
    So just to be 100 percent certain I can carry my buck 110 in a sheath sideways on my belt and cops cant say a dang thing, and is it illegal for a person under the age of 16 to carry a knife, now I only heard this from 1 person no one else said anything but I'm just being certain.
    Buck 110 is a folder, so yes you can. Or in your pocket. Doesn't matter because concealed is legal. There is no age limit in Maryland either (not for folders). You cannot carry it on school property or places like court houses or federal government buildings.

    There COULD be laws in your county and/or city that may say otherwise. It's not very likely according to my travels through the state, but it's possible. I guess if you feel comfortable, PM me and I'll look it up.

    You COULD also run into a "McGuigan" (a LEO who doesn't know his own state's law). If this happens, don't argue with such a person because it will make it worse. But do not surrender your knife without a receipt. If a receipt is threatened to come paired with a citation, get a citation. It won't matter because it will be thrown out in court.

  10. #10
    AA county has age specific laws I believe, not sure about others.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AliasNeo View Post
    AA county has age specific laws I believe, not sure about others.
    No knife legislation in Anne Arundel.
    Can't own or use a Taser, can't sell air guns, bows or slingshots to minors, nor fire them under certain circumstances. But nothing about blades unless a city there has them that I don't about.

  12. #12
    I find this discussion fascinating and very enlightening. I've been in MD my entire life and have always been under the impression it was illegal to carry any type of knife concealed or non-concealed, fixed or folder, manual or automatic.

    Granted not once have I ever looked up the 'letter of the law' and now wish I had many years ago.

    Using what has been said here as a basis and what I believe to be the interpretation of a pen knife stated above it would also be fully legal in MD (specifically Baltimore county where I live) to carry either say a sheathed SOG Tomcat on my belt or a benchmade/emerson folder clipped into my pocket?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Nemesis View Post
    Using what has been said here as a basis and what I believe to be the interpretation of a pen knife stated above it would also be fully legal in MD (specifically Baltimore county where I live) to carry either say a sheathed SOG Tomcat on my belt or a benchmade/emerson folder clipped into my pocket?
    Correct. They are both "penknives" and are legal concealed or open, so long as you don't go threatening people, or take them to school or a court house. I took a quick poke through the Baltimore County Code and I didn't find anything about knives. Just stun guns/tasers, giving guns to minors, and discharging guns withing certain areas.

    Note my previous warning about "McGuigans" (cops who don't know the law). Here are some suggestions for avoiding unnecessary trouble:
    1. When asked if you have any weapons, say "No officer, but I have a penknife." This helps separate you from intent to use the knife as a weapon.
    2. NEVER say a knife is for "protection" or "self-defense." Cops hate that for some reason even when it's legal (er, no offense to our good forum members). Having a knife for self-defense isn't illegal in Maryland, but it's going to get them aggravated and you don't want that. Say it is for a task or that it is useful tool to have.
    3. Don't act a fool. I've carried a myriad of knives and weapons for decades, and never been questioned or searched. I'm nice to people, don't pick fights, and I stay out of dangerous situations and locations. Law enforcement doesn't just grab random people off the street and strip search them. Don't give them a reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glistam View Post
    Correct. They are both "penknives" and are legal concealed or open, so long as you don't go threatening people, or take them to school or a court house. I took a quick poke through the Baltimore County Code and I didn't find anything about knives. Just stun guns/tasers, giving guns to minors, and discharging guns withing certain areas.

    Note my previous warning about "McGuigans" (cops who don't know the law). Here are some suggestions for avoiding unnecessary trouble:
    1. When asked if you have any weapons, say "No officer, but I have a penknife." This helps separate you from intent to use the knife as a weapon.
    2. NEVER say a knife is for "protection" or "self-defense." Cops hate that for some reason even when it's legal (er, no offense to our good forum members). Having a knife for self-defense isn't illegal in Maryland, but it's going to get them aggravated and you don't want that. Say it is for a task or that it is useful tool to have.
    3. Don't act a fool. I've carried a myriad of knives and weapons for decades, and never been questioned or searched. I'm nice to people, don't pick fights, and I stay out of dangerous situations and locations. Law enforcement doesn't just grab random people off the street and strip search them. Don't give them a reason.
    LEOs DO grab random people off the street and strip-search them. Perhaps the most infamous example of this was the 1989 Stuart-DiMaiti case, where a white suburban businessman murdered his pregnant wife (who was also white) in Boston's "Mission Hill" neighborhood, severely wounded himself and told the Boston Police that a black man forced his way into their car and shot the both of them. The police response was aggressive and brutal. LEOs fanned out through minority neighborhoods within the city. Many black teenagers and young adults were grabbed at random and forced to drop their pants in public. Dark-skinned Hispanics were also targeted, apparently for good measure. After the hoax was discovered, the black community was up in arms. The controversy continues, even to this day. Mistaken identity detentions and arrests happen all of the time. If someone gets robbed and you fit the description, you will get grabbed and searched by the LEOs, even if you are otherwise maintaining a low profile. This is when your EDC knife will be discovered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOM1960 View Post
    LEOs DO grab random people off the street and strip-search them. Perhaps the most infamous example of this was the 1989 Stuart-DiMaiti case, where a white suburban businessman murdered his pregnant wife (who was also white) in Boston's "Mission Hill" neighborhood, severely wounded himself and told the Boston Police that a black man forced his way into their car and shot the both of them. The police response was aggressive and brutal. LEOs fanned out through minority neighborhoods within the city. Many black teenagers and young adults were grabbed at random and forced to drop their pants in public. Dark-skinned Hispanics were also targeted, apparently for good measure. After the hoax was discovered, the black community was up in arms. The controversy continues, even to this day. Mistaken identity detentions and arrests happen all of the time. If someone gets robbed and you fit the description, you will get grabbed and searched by the LEOs, even if you are otherwise maintaining a low profile. This is when your EDC knife will be discovered.
    The McGuigan case was actually one such case too: Sorrell (the man who was arrested for having a knife) matched the description of a robbery suspect nearby (i.e. being black and having 3 friends with him). However mind you that the State's Attorney threw his case out (because penknives aren't illegal) and Sorrell won his suit against officer in Federal court. Twice.

    However this all besides the point: 99% of concealed weapons charges come from the suspect committing another crime or doing something blatantly suspicious or stupid. Yeah, there is that 1% like our two cases illustrate, but one should try to keep it at 1% and not raise it any by being a punk.

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    Update for Marylanders:

    The young art teacher I previously mentioned who was arrested/cited for his two Boye Basics (Small, single edged fixed blades) in his belt sheath had his case dismissed as "nolle prosequi" on the very first hearing. In effect, it was declared there was no crime committed.
    Praise to the judges with good common sense. Details to follow once I obtain the case record.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glistam View Post
    Update for Marylanders:

    The young art teacher I previously mentioned who was arrested/cited for his two Boye Basics (Small, single edged fixed blades) in his belt sheath had his case dismissed as "nolle prosequi" on the very first hearing. In effect, it was declared there was no crime committed.
    Praise to the judges with good common sense. Details to follow once I obtain the case record.
    Thanks for sharing the good news. Looks like the prosecutor and the judge had the common sense that the arresting LEO obviously lacked.

  18. #18
    Great thread for someone that is a) new to the forum and b) a marylander

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdjr1991 View Post
    Great thread for someone that is a) new to the forum and b) a marylander
    Welcome to the Knife Law forum! Glad to see another Mrrlinder.

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    As a fellow MD resident, I really appreciate all the information in this thread. Thanks, everyone.

    - Mark
    “Spinning Cyclone of Death"

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