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Is a pocket clip classed as open carry?

EngrSorenson

Gold Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
3,973
If a cop sees the pocket clip to my ZT350 (over 3 inches) is it classed as open carry? Or concealed?
Not sure what the laws are where you live, but I feel like if he can see it and identify it, then it’s not concealed.

This is more appropriate for the Knife Laws forum.

Edit: I did a little homework because I was confused by the question. I found this:
According to California Penal Code Section 17235, all folding knives are legal in the state and may be concealed as long as they are in the folded position. There is also no restriction on the blade length of a folding knife.
There may be additional restrictions based on your county or city, but on the face of it, it doesn’t seem like you have an issue.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 23, 2010
Messages
1,471
In Oklahoma, folders are considered pocket knives, and, as such, are exempt from length restrictions...
 
Joined
Sep 24, 2002
Messages
5,105
It appears the OP is in Los Angeles, where knives carried openly (visibly) must have blades under 3 inches long. Although there are exceptions to that law for knives carried for work, recreational activities, or religious worship. No blade length limit on folding knives carried concealed (except on switchblades and butterfly knives).

The answer is yes, in LA a visible pocket clip constitutes open carry, same with a belt sheath.

I live in San Diego, and used to occasionally go up to LA for work, so I made a point of knowing any local knife laws that might apply to me.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2003
Messages
2,916
Connecticut isn't any better
How so? I have carried a knife clipped in my pocket for years, lots of different ones in fact, and sometimes a fixed blade too in my pocket or on the belt, and never once has it been questioned. There is no concealed / open carry differentiation in CT, and as long as you keep within the legal blade limit whatever you have is fine.
 

Rupestris

Gold Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Messages
25,181
Depends on why the cop see's it.

Did the cop see it because you're both knife guys and he asked when he saw it or is he/she asking because you carjacked an elderly person?

In many states the law describes a knifes legality with the caveat of "in the commission of a crime".

Here I can carry a 7" knife in a belt sheath legally but if I'm caught with a 2.25" blade clipped to my pocket in the commission of a crime, the prosecutor might look at things differently.

I've walked around Chicago which is known for it's strict weapons laws with a 3"+ knife clipped to my pocket and have never had anyone, police or no, say a thing because I'm not giving anyone a reason to.
 

Zulus

Gold Member
Joined
May 29, 2020
Messages
2,460
How so? I have carried a knife clipped in my pocket for years, lots of different ones in fact, and sometimes a fixed blade too in my pocket or on the belt, and never once has it been questioned. There is no concealed / open carry differentiation in CT, and as long as you keep within the legal blade limit whatever you have is fine.
Looks as I read too much :^(
 

sgt1372

Platinum Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
3,991
In California:

1) You can carry any folder concealed as long as it is in the closed position. By definition, a folder in the closed position is NOT a "dirk or dagger" and can be carried concealed anywhere. Whether the clip of a folder in your pocket is exposed or not is irrelevant.

2) You cannot carry any "dirk or dagger" concealed on your person BUT you can carry such a weapon openly in a sheath on your waist on a belt (or in a sheath on other exposed parts of your body).

A "dirk or dagger" is defined as any fixed blade knife or other weapon (like a spike or ice pick) that could be used to stab someone (whether you intend to use it for that purpose or not) and thereby cause "death or great bodily injury." Note: This includes a folder that is locked in the open position.

It has been ruled that slip joints cannot be considered "dirks or daggers" because they cannot be "locked" open BUT a box cutter carried in the open position in a pocket has been ruled an illegally concealed "dirk or dagger." So, always close your box cutters and utility knives before putting them in your pocket in CA.

There is no State restriction on the length of knives in CA but there are specific limitations imposed the the abilty to carry and the length allowable for knives in specific locations (like schools/universities) and various cities/counties (like SF & LA)have their own length/carry restrictions.

So, you also need to be aware of local ordinances in CA.

3) It is also illegal to carry switchblades over 2" whether carried openly or concealed anywhere in CA.

Butterfly (balisong) knives are defined as a type of swtchblade because it can be opened with a "flick of the wrist." However, knives that can only be opened w/the use of thumbstuds, Spydieholes or other devices are excluded from the definition of "switchblades."

It should be noted that the ability to flick a Spydie open by releasing the compression lock on a knife so equipped could be considered a "switchblade" under CA law. I don't think that this issue has ever been litigated but this is something that people w/compression lock Spydies should be aware of.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 23, 2021
Messages
458
The laws are all over the place with regards to what is and isn't a concealed weapon, what's permitted, and it's often up to the discretion of the individual officer on how they interpret those laws. They could say it's concealed if you're wearing a coat or shirt that covers the clip. They could say that just by being inside the pocket made it inherently concealed. They could say it was a concealed weapon if it was at the bottom of your backpack. On the other hand they could just say it's a cool knife or not bother you at all. A lot of it depends on the setting, what you're up to, and how you present yourself.
 

Spey

Gold Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2012
Messages
961
Answer is absolutely municipality dependent (much like how in some municipalities allow or do not allow right turn on red, open carry of firearms, lane splitting, etc., etc.).
 

Docscoot

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2021
Messages
452
Depends on why the cop see's it.

Did the cop see it because you're both knife guys and he asked when he saw it or is he/she asking because you carjacked an elderly person?

In many states the law describes a knifes legality with the caveat of "in the commission of a crime".

Here I can carry a 7" knife in a belt sheath legally but if I'm caught with a 2.25" blade clipped to my pocket in the commission of a crime, the prosecutor might look at things differently.

I've walked around Chicago which is known for it's strict weapons laws with a 3"+ knife clipped to my pocket and have never had anyone, police or no, say a thing because I'm not giving anyone a reason to.
This seems about right to me. My feeling is sometimes these laws can be intentionally vague just as another tool for law enforcement, if they need to call your knife carry illegal to have leverage to stop/prevent some other misbehavior, maybe that’s the idea. I personally would prefer things be written crystal clear so I never have to stress about whether or not an LEO could jerk my para 3 hard enough by the blade to fling it open and declare it an illegal gravity knife because he didn’t like my hat or something :)
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
404
Yeah me too Doc. In Ma. not against to posess a switchblade in your house but can't walk around with it on the street. Laws sound confusing and vague. Surprised one can get away with assisted opening but I bought my first spring assist at a brick and mortar store in Ma. years back.
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
250
Here in Texas, you can carry about any knife in about any way you wish. I'd keep it as discreet as possible. My EDC Leatherman wave rides in a horizontal belt pouch.
 

scdub

Basic Member
Joined
May 29, 2004
Messages
1,342
It appears the OP is in Los Angeles, where knives carried openly (visibly) must have blades under 3 inches long. Although there are exceptions to that law for knives carried for work, recreational activities, or religious worship. No blade length limit on folding knives carried concealed (except on switchblades and butterfly knives).

The answer is yes, in LA a visible pocket clip constitutes open carry, same with a belt sheath.

I live in San Diego, and used to occasionally go up to LA for work, so I made a point of knowing any local knife laws that might apply to me.
Hey Killgar,
You’re definitely one of the most informed I know of on CA knife laws, but this seems weird.

I’ve always considered a pocket knife to be concealed, even if partially exposed. That’s the only reason I don’t pocket carry a fixed blade in CA - I figure even though the handle is partially visible, an Officer will still likely consider it concealed.

Is the LA pocket clip = open carry definition in the regs or just from court decisions?
 
Joined
Sep 24, 2002
Messages
5,105
Hey Killgar,
You’re definitely one of the most informed I know of on CA knife laws, but this seems weird.

I’ve always considered a pocket knife to be concealed, even if partially exposed. That’s the only reason I don’t pocket carry a fixed blade in CA - I figure even though the handle is partially visible, an Officer will still likely consider it concealed.

Is the LA pocket clip = open carry definition in the regs or just from court decisions?

Thanks scdub.

The "open-carry/pocket clip" issue was something I was told both by my attorney, and by a pair of LEO's that I had a friendly encounter with in LA. The way it was explained to me was- although visible pocket clips are not specifically mentioned in the LA statutes, because the clip is part of the knife, and because it is clearly visible, that it constitutes "open-carry", and that people have been arrested and prosecuted as a result.

However, it was also explained to me that this is something typically reserved for people who were engaged in criminal behavior, or had open warrants, etc, and was used to add a charge and/or violate probation. The officers explained that although it's not always possible to tell that a pocket clip is attached to a knife (could be something else) that if the person has given the officers legal justification to search them, and if it turns out that a visible pocket clip was attached to a knife, that the person could then be charged using the open-carry statute.

Normally I wouldn't just accept legal advice from LEO's, but since they sounded like they knew what they were talking about, and because it matched what my attorney told me, I was inclined to believe it. And the clip being a part of the knife makes sense.

For me, adding all that up, I wouldn't use a pocket clip in LA on a knife with a blade 3" or longer. Even though I don't engage in criminal activity, I wouldn't want to give an LEO who might be a jerk, or having a bad day any justification to stop, much less arrest me. Although I consider the possibility of such events to be highly unlikely, I don't consider using a pocket clip to be important enough to take the chance.

When it comes to the law, and avoiding jail, I prefer, and advise others, to err on the side of caution.
 

scdub

Basic Member
Joined
May 29, 2004
Messages
1,342
Thanks scdub.

The "open-carry/pocket clip" issue was something I was told both by my attorney, and by a pair of LEO's that I had a friendly encounter with in LA. The way it was explained to me was- although visible pocket clips are not specifically mentioned in the LA statutes, because the clip is part of the knife, and because it is clearly visible, that it constitutes "open-carry", and that people have been arrested and prosecuted as a result.

However, it was also explained to me that this is something typically reserved for people who were engaged in criminal behavior, or had open warrants, etc, and was used to add a charge and/or violate probation. The officers explained that although it's not always possible to tell that a pocket clip is attached to a knife (could be something else) that if the person has given the officers legal justification to search them, and if it turns out that a visible pocket clip was attached to a knife, that the person could then be charged using the open-carry statute.

Normally I wouldn't just accept legal advice from LEO's, but since they sounded like they knew what they were talking about, and because it matched what my attorney told me, I was inclined to believe it. And the clip being a part of the knife makes sense.

For me, adding all that up, I wouldn't use a pocket clip in LA on a knife with a blade 3" or longer. Even though I don't engage in criminal activity, I wouldn't want to give an LEO who might be a jerk, or having a bad day any justification to stop, much less arrest me. Although I consider the possibility of such events to be highly unlikely, I don't consider using a pocket clip to be important enough to take the chance.

When it comes to the law, and avoiding jail, I prefer, and advise others, to err on the side of caution.
Got it - yes that makes sense.

I recon depending on what the cop/court decides it could be considered open carry or concealed, so to be safe, no blades over 3” in LA clipped on visibly, and no fixed blades in pockets in CA even if exposed.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
404
The idiot laws sure make it complicated from locality to locality. Be nice if we could have some reciprocity for a change with knife/gun laws. Always got to make it hard or even worse with "grey" areas. Assholes that pass these laws probably wouldn't know a knife from a hole in the ground.
 
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