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Knife laws in Washington State?

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by ecfc, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. ecfc


    Jul 2, 2012
    So I live in Washington and I just ordered an Opinel 12 (4.5ish inch blade). I was planning on using that for hiking, would it be legal for me to carry that around in my backpack or in my pocket concealed, and if that's illegal, would it be legal if it was not concealed? Also would it be legal to use around my house on my property in the city of Seattle?
  2. fishface5


    Feb 3, 2001
    Seattle has a 3.25" blade inch limit for carry, but if you are using it on your property that's not considered carry (you can use a machete on your property all day, just don't start roaming the street with it).
    Practically speaking if you are hiking with an Opinel no one will care, even more so if it's in your backpack. The exact laws covering legal carry will depend on the jurisdiction(s) you are in while hiking. The state statute on knives doesn't specify a blade length, the issue is how you use it (RCW 9.41.270). However there are certain places you can't carry weapons - jails, courts, liquor sales facilities, and others - however you're not likely to be hiking in any of those (RCW 9.41.300).

    RCW 9.41.270
    Weapons apparently capable of producing bodily harm — Unlawful carrying or handling — Penalty — Exceptions.

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

    (2) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (1) above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. If any person is convicted of a violation of subsection (1) of this section, the person shall lose his or her concealed pistol license, if any. The court shall send notice of the revocation to the department of licensing, and the city, town, or county which issued the license.

    (3) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to or affect the following:

    (a) Any act committed by a person while in his or her place of abode or fixed place of business;

    (b) Any person who by virtue of his or her office or public employment is vested by law with a duty to preserve public safety, maintain public order, or to make arrests for offenses, while in the performance of such duty;

    (c) Any person acting for the purpose of protecting himself or herself against the use of presently threatened unlawful force by another, or for the purpose of protecting another against the use of such unlawful force by a third person;

    (d) Any person making or assisting in making a lawful arrest for the commission of a felony; or

    (e) Any person engaged in military activities sponsored by the federal or state governments.
  3. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    Also this statute:

    RCW 9.41.250
    Dangerous weapons — Penalty — Exemption for law enforcement officers.

    *** CHANGE IN 2012 *** (SEE 2347-S.SL) ***

    (1) Every person who:

    (a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slung shot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife, or any knife the blade of which 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;

    (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) Subsection (1)(a) of this section does not apply to:

    (a) The possession of a spring blade knife by a law enforcement officer while the officer:

    (i) Is on official duty; or

    (ii) Is transporting the knife to or from the place where the knife is stored when the officer is not on official duty; or

    (b) The storage of a spring blade knife by a law enforcement officer.

    One problem, is there is no real definition in the statute to define dangerous weapon, so technically an officer can cite you and arrest you if he pulls anything out of your pocket that is concealed, and he feels is a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors often blindly accept any drivel that an officer spews out in a report.

    That said, I have not seen anyone charged for old timey knives like an opinel, or slip joints etc. If you are out hiking in a wilderness area no one will care about an opinel, in the pocket, in the bag or otherwise.

    As long as you are not holding it over your head, and screaming "by the power of Grey Skull" while running around in your undies, you should be ok.
  4. tom19176


    Dec 7, 2005
    WOW..I thought NY and NYC laws were bad!!!! I understand your laws are most likely not enforced like they are in NYC, but the wording is far worse than anything in NY law.....ANY flickable knife ( does not even need to lock open) is illegal and I can see most LEOs considering an AO as a undefined " spring knife"....
  5. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    If you are outside Seattle and not carrying the knife as a weapon, you not going to be bothered by anyone with the Opinel. It is all about having a legitimate reason for having the knife on you. But remember, you can't carry any size or length of knife as a WEAPON here. Only drunk idiots with a pocket full of pot get bussed on the concealed knife charge but the world is full of them.
  6. Chris Wille

    Chris Wille

    Jun 3, 2012
    Assisted openers become legal to carry July 7th 2012 so just a couple more days :)
  7. tom19176


    Dec 7, 2005
    Chris good to hear, but have they changed the wording of any of the rest of the law? As it stands it is very restrictive.
  8. Chris Wille

    Chris Wille

    Jun 3, 2012
    They made it legal to manufacture auto knives in Wa state and changed the wording so assisted isn't clumped in with auto knives
    March 29, 2012: Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed Knife Rights supported HB2347 into law this evening at a signing ceremony at the capitol. This important legislation makes Washington more friendly to knife owners and manufacturers by clarifying the definition of so-called "spring blade" knives (switchblades) so as to clearly make assisted-opening knives legal in the state.

    This clarification allows for sale, manufacture and possession of assisted-opening knives in Washington. HB2347 also makes it legal to manufacture switchblade knives in the state of Washington. In addition, it would expand the existing law enforcement exemption for possession of switchblades to members of the military and full-time first responders.

    While Knife Rights does not believe there should be any distinction between citizens and government employees when it comes to possessing life saving tools, we also understand political reality. We will be working with Washington state residents and officials to change this in the future when the political landscape is more favorable to such a rational move forward.

    Thanks to all of you who called and emailed throughout the process and helped to make this happen!

    We would like to recognize Mike Vellekamp, one of the owners of Fox Knives USA, who spearheaded the effort to get this bill passed. If it were not for his initiative and hard work, things would not be moving forward for knife owners and manufacturers in Washington state.
  9. ecfc


    Jul 2, 2012
    Sorry this took so long, but thank you so much guys!
  10. boppstar


    Nov 6, 2015
    Reviving an old thread - I am moving to WA this fall. In searching online I saw some talk of updated WA knife laws, just wanted to see if anyone has that info handy. I own auto folders, a variety of fixed blades including some double edged types...
  11. mbkryan

    mbkryan Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 24, 2012
    I moved to WA recently from MT and googled WA knife laws because I have two autos. From what I found, autos are not legal to carry. May not even be legal to own, but I'm not sure. Not sure about double edged knives. I recently heard about a "knife collectors" license which might allow us to own them, but have not looked in to it.

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