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Thread: Legal Carry in Los Angeles

  1. #1

    Legal Carry in Los Angeles


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    Hello friends, I have been searching for this answer for many days now and I still haven't gotten a clear cut answer.

    I am looking to carry, concealed, a 4" folder in the state of California, in and out of the University. According to State law, I am allowed to carry any length folding knife so long as it isn't visibly carried according to California Penal Code 653k

    The issue lies in carrying the same blade in Los Angeles County. According to Municipal Code 55.10 which states


    (a) As used in this section, the term “knife” or “dagger” shall include any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade 3 inches or more in length, any ice pick or similar sharp tool, any straight edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle.

    (b) No person shall wear or carry in plain view any knife or dagger upon any public street or other public place or in any place open to the public.

    (c) The prohibitions of this section shall not apply where a person is wearing or carrying a knife or dagger for use in a lawful occupation, for lawful recreational purposes, or as a recognized religious practice, or while the person is traveling to or returning from participation in such activity.
    According to that, concealed carry is still perfectly legal.

    But then Municipal Code 55.01 says

    No person, except a peace officer shall wear or in any manner carry concealed upon his person, any loaded or unloaded gun, pistol or revolver, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon permitted to be carried by law without having, at the same time, actually in his possession, and upon his person an unexpired permit so to do issued by the Board of Police Commissioners.
    So my question is: Do I need a permit to carry a knife in Los Angeles? After looking into this further I found that there was a case called People vs Bass in 1968 where the Courts held that the law forbidding a concealed weapon is invalid, yet it's still in the legislation. Knowing that, I know I could beat any possible charges, but I wanted to know if I could avoid being arrested and therefore avoid the hassle.

    Thank You all very much, I'm a new knife owner and just want to make sure that I am exercising my knife rights fully and that I'll be protected from an arrest

  2. #2
    My understanding of Los Angeles knife laws is as follows-

    You can carry a folder of any size as long as it is conceald.
    You can carry a folder in "plain view" if it has a blade under 3 inches.
    Carrying a folder clipped to your pocket is considered "plain view" and is illegal if the blade is 3 inches or longer.
    You can openly carry a fixed-blade if the blade is less than 3 inches.
    Carrying a fixed-blade with a blade 3 inches or longer in "plain view" is illegal.
    Carrying ANY fixed-blade conceald on your person is illegal under CA state law no matter where you are in the state.

    I live in San Diego and checked LA laws because I was going there once for work.

    Of course, I'm just some guy on the internet. So take this post for what it is.
    Last edited by killgar; 10-12-2012 at 04:31 PM.

  3. #3
    That is the general vibe I am getting from this research. I just don't want some asshole cop to arrest me based on that last law I posted. Thank you for the reply, if I can't get a clear cut answer about it I guess I'll consult with an attourney and see what they recommend.

  4. #4
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    I would not obsess too much about finding an absolutely 100% perfect interpretation of the law, because it will not keep you 100% safe. There are "asshole cops" who don't even know the obvious parts of the law on knives! A cop can arrest you or confiscate your knife for something that isn't even illegal. You can take legal and administrative action against said cop for doing so, but it still involves hassle. We have them out here on the East Coast too.

    At the same time, cops are not going to grab you off the street at random and frisk you. 99.9% of all weapon charges are tacked on after suspicious or criminal behavior was already observed.
    Last edited by glistam; 10-10-2012 at 03:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by James White View Post
    That is the general vibe I am getting from this research. I just don't want some asshole cop to arrest me based on that last law I posted. Thank you for the reply, if I can't get a clear cut answer about it I guess I'll consult with an attourney and see what they recommend.
    I'll advise you to do what I advise others to do (I should have mentioned it before)- print out a copy of LA's knife laws and carry it in your wallet. Fortunately LA's laws are pretty clear thanks to the specific length limit that it mentions in it's legally binding definition of what a "knife" is. Believe it or not but there have been incidents where people have been hassled by cops claiming that a particular knife was illegal, and when the person pulled out their copy of the law the cops backed-down. Knowing the law and your rights is one thing, it's also important to stand-up firmly for your rights when dealing with a cop who might be an asshole or simply ignorant of the law.

    It's always good to have a planned strategy already programed in your head in the event that some cop tries to confiscate your legal knife or threatens to arrest you because of your legal knife. For example- tell the cop that you know the law, show him your copy of the law, tell him that your lawyer told you the knife is legal, tell him that if he confiscates your knife that you will call your lawyer and have him meet you at the police station (if you don't actually have a lawyer, go to the yellow pages in advance and just pick a name of a criminal defense attorney, use his name as your lawyer when using the afore mentioned tactic), if the cop insists on taking your knife demand a reciept, get his name, badge number, and division, record the number off his patrol car and the license plate number.

    Cops will often relent and let a person go when they know that the person hasn't really broken the law and it appears that the person knows the law, their rights, and has a lawyer.

    Also, a very important piece of advice- if you are goiny to be carrying a folder with a blade longer than 3 inches legally conceald, make sure you remove the pocket clip! If you leave the pocket clip on then a cop could lie and say that he saw the knife clipped to your pocket (in "plain view). Something my lawyer taught me is (and something I learned the hard way), give the cops as little room as possible to tell a plausible lie, because cops routinely commit perjury when they know they can get away with it. Sad but true.

  6. #6
    Thank you for the replies everyone, I really appreciate it.

    I think I am going to do that, I was contemplating printing out the laws already but if anything this only confirmed the importance to me. I probably won't remove the pocket clip, however. I just figure that if the cop is going to be an ass, he doesn't need to claim it was clipped on, he could always lie and say he saw it being 'brandished' and acted.

    The last thing I'm going to ask however is about the size. At this very moment I have the option of choosing the 3" or 4" folder I wanted. Would you recommend that I stick to the 4" or size down to the 3"? I'm thinking the 3 would give me less trouble but I want 4" just for the size, it seems the right fit for me.

    Thanks once again.

  7. #7
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    I'm a pretty big dude (6'2“ 305), and I find that, while I like big folders, the three-inch range is plenty for EDC. What are the knives you are considering?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by James White View Post
    Thank you for the replies everyone, I really appreciate it.

    I think I am going to do that, I was contemplating printing out the laws already but if anything this only confirmed the importance to me. I probably won't remove the pocket clip, however. I just figure that if the cop is going to be an ass, he doesn't need to claim it was clipped on, he could always lie and say he saw it being 'brandished' and acted.

    The last thing I'm going to ask however is about the size. At this very moment I have the option of choosing the 3" or 4" folder I wanted. Would you recommend that I stick to the 4" or size down to the 3"? I'm thinking the 3 would give me less trouble but I want 4" just for the size, it seems the right fit for me.

    Thanks once again.
    You seem to put a lot of emphasis on "A-hole cop"..... on the flip-side if you don't look like an A-hole or act like an A-hole yourself I don't see why any cop would need to do a pat down on you to begin with.
    Beckerhead #119

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Logical One View Post
    You seem to put a lot of emphasis on "A-hole cop"..... on the flip-side if you don't look like an A-hole or act like an A-hole yourself I don't see why any cop would need to do a pat down on you to begin with.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by hoxhunbe View Post
    I'm a pretty big dude (6'2“ 305), and I find that, while I like big folders, the three-inch range is plenty for EDC. What are the knives you are considering?
    At this moment, I was looking into the Recon Series from Cold Steel. A big reason for this knife will be potential self defense, so that's why the 4" blade was important to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Logical One View Post
    You seem to put a lot of emphasis on "A-hole cop"..... on the flip-side if you don't look like an A-hole or act like an A-hole yourself I don't see why any cop would need to do a pat down on you to begin with.
    I don't live in the best area to begin with, and I've had more than one cop question me for walking in other neighborhoods that were deemed 'too good' for my appearance. Combine that with one of them using the "I smell weed" excuse(even though I've never been a smoker in my life) to search me, I'm a bit of a skeptic and I'd prefer if the law was 100% on my side. I'd rather have this under my control than hope that I won't run into another in my life.

  11. #11
    I would not sweat it if you keep it under 3 inches. I grew up in L.A. and in the 25 years I was able to stand living there, never had a problem having a 3 inch blade clipped to my pocket. Just remember that a cop can, and will, find any and all reasons to give you a hard time if you stick out in any negative way. That includes being an a-hole during a simple traffic ticket.

  12. #12
    it's kind of funny how stupid those laws are. You could carry a benchmade LFK in a breast pocket of a jacket hidden from common observation, but a 3.5 " folder in your pocket can land you a charge

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by James White View Post
    At this moment, I was looking into the Recon Series from Cold Steel. A big reason for this knife will be potential self defense, so that's why the 4" blade was important to me.



    I don't live in the best area to begin with, and I've had more than one cop question me for walking in other neighborhoods that were deemed 'too good' for my appearance. Combine that with one of them using the "I smell weed" excuse(even though I've never been a smoker in my life) to search me, I'm a bit of a skeptic and I'd prefer if the law was 100% on my side. I'd rather have this under my control than hope that I won't run into another in my life.
    If you live in the city of LA and if you look shady in any way shape or form, you will get jammed. If that's the case, my advice for you is to keep it at or under 3 inches. In a situation where they do a pat down on you, my best advice for you is to fully cooperate and tell them ahead of time that you have a "pocket knife" and where it's located.
    Beckerhead #119

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by The Logical One View Post
    If you live in the city of LA and if you look shady in any way shape or form, you will get jammed. If that's the case, my advice for you is to keep it at or under 3 inches. In a situation where they do a pat down on you, my best advice for you is to fully cooperate and tell them ahead of time that you have a "pocket knife" and where it's located.
    I don't mean to sound rude or plain ignorant, but are you suggesting that based on the law or personal opinion? I did think about keeping it at 3 inches to comply with the open carry law, but even then it says that 3 inches is already illegal, it has to be under that length.

    I do try to stay civil, I've had decent runins with the police as well, I only mentioned the worst as me bringing up the good cops isn't exactly the worst case scenario. I'm looking for opinions on the interpretation of that law mostly, I might just go see an attourney in the end, but I wanted to get opinions from everyone here.

    Either way, thank you for your advice, I'll make sure to take it into consideration when I make my final decision.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by James White View Post
    I don't mean to sound rude or plain ignorant, but are you suggesting that based on the law or personal opinion? I did think about keeping it at 3 inches to comply with the open carry law, but even then it says that 3 inches is already illegal, it has to be under that length.

    I do try to stay civil, I've had decent runins with the police as well, I only mentioned the worst as me bringing up the good cops isn't exactly the worst case scenario. I'm looking for opinions on the interpretation of that law mostly, I might just go see an attourney in the end, but I wanted to get opinions from everyone here.

    Either way, thank you for your advice, I'll make sure to take it into consideration when I make my final decision.
    I'm suggesting that based on professional experience. Take it or leave it, but lets just say I am giving you some really good advice.
    Beckerhead #119

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by The Logical One View Post
    I'm suggesting that based on professional experience. Take it or leave it, but lets just say I am giving you some really good advice.
    I understand and I thank you for it. That being said, do you recommend any knives? And a general question, what is legally seen as 'lawful' use? I'm sure there isn't a defined use, but what kind of occupations could get away with that title?

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    Quote Originally Posted by James White View Post
    I understand and I thank you for it. That being said, do you recommend any knives? And a general question, what is legally seen as 'lawful' use? I'm sure there isn't a defined use, but what kind of occupations could get away with that title?
    As long as it's 3" or under anything would be fine, no particular recommendations. However, you should stay away from flippers/assisted knives if you plan on edcing it around LA.
    Beckerhead #119

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Logical One View Post
    You seem to put a lot of emphasis on "A-hole cop"..... on the flip-side if you don't look like an A-hole or act like an A-hole yourself I don't see why any cop would need to do a pat down on you to begin with.
    This.
    I'm not advocating breaking the law, but I lived in L.A. for 12 years with an Endura clipped in my back pocket daily.
    I spoke with countless cops under various circumstances and not one ever asked me about my pocket knife.
    I got the sense that they had more important things to do.


    "Cataloguing my virtues won't work either... I hold them to a minimum so they're easy to keep track of." -Jim Rockford

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Maniacal Pete View Post
    This.
    I'm not advocating breaking the law, but I lived in L.A. for 12 years with an Endura clipped in my back pocket daily.
    I spoke with countless cops under various circumstances and not one ever asked me about my pocket knife.
    I got the sense that they had more important things to do.

    Do you mind me asking what the worst experience was on your end? I know I sound very paranoid, but I just want to have as much information possible so I know what to expect.

  20. #20
    I know and have met several good, honest cops. We can assume that most cops are good and honest. But lets not kid ourselves or live in denial, the fact is that there are also a lot a bad cops who will hassle people based just on race or looks, or just because they can. I've seen cops sent to prison for everything from drug dealing, rape, and even contract killing. So people shouldn't get bent out of shape when a person trying to decide what knife to carry in a city like Los Angeles expresses a concern regarding run-ins with cops. After all, it's not like the LAPD has a spotless record when it comes to respecting peoples constitutional rights. Naturally Mr. White would be concerned about "a-hole cops", because people generally have nothing to fear from good, honest cops.

    Personally, if I were going to LA I would carry a folder with a blade less than 3 inches. Why take the chance for a slightly longer blade. How much more valuable would that longer blade really be.

    And just to show how easy a person can wind up on the negative side of cops let me share this little story from down here in San Diego, I've told this story before- A guy was riding the trolley, he bought a ticket, when the trolley cops came around asking for tickets the guy couldn't find his ticket. The trolley cops handed him over to the real cops who placed him under arrest for riding the trolley without a ticket. When he arrived at the jail for processing and was told to empty his pockets, he found his ticket. Too late for him though, he was already under arrest and his processing had begun. So he went to jail for a few days awaiting his first court hearing. Now imagine the trouble he would have gotten into if he had an illegal knife in his pocket. And all because of a misplaced trolley ticket.

    And that's just one story I know of. Perhaps before the recent economic troubles in this country people could rely on the cops "having better things to do" than stop people, hand out tickes, or arrest people over trivial matters, but that's not the case anymore. Cities and counties are hard-up for money, and tickets and court fines generate A LOT of income. When this is the case, don't be surprised if the street cops are told to arrest anyone, any chance they get. I remember it being reported on the news here that cops would no longer be giving people warnings as a result of traffic violations, instead they would only be giving out tickets. It's a simple matter of money.

    Remember, even if you are arrested for a trivial matter you will be searched.

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