Switchblades are fun, handy tools that have been around longer than you might think. Historians suggest that switchblades were first invented in England in the 18th century!
Of course, the switchblades we have today are quite a bit different than those first iterations.
What’s more, switchblades come with a bit of a stigma. As such, legal scholars and weapons specialists are engaged in a decades-long debate over one simple question: Are switchblades legal, or should we outlaw them?
To find out, make sure you keep reading!
Are Switchblades Legal?
Without burying the lede, switchblades are, for the most part, legal. At least, to varying degrees in 40 states.
States and territories where having a switchblade knife is illegal include:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
However, it’s worth noting that in New York, switchblades are legal if used for hunting purposes.
Understanding the Federal Switchblade Act
As mentioned above, there’s been quite a bit of debate surrounding switchblades, especially as they became more advanced. The automatic switchblade knife sparked a brand new debate, leading to the United States’ first major piece of legislature on the knives, known as the Federal Switchblade Act.
Passed in 1958, the congressional act specifically defined switchblades for the first time, noting that to qualify, they must open automatically.
Due to the act, carrying a switchblade became a federal crime, punishable by thousands of dollars in fines.
However, things got more complicated a few years ago, when activists got most of the act overturned. It became up to individual states to decide how they’d handle switchblade legalization, and many decided to overturn the Federal Switchblade Act altogether.
It’s important to note, though, that many states have caveats to legalized knives. For instance, some states will require buyers to obtain a weapons license akin to gun licensing.
Your best bet is to check with your state’s individualized laws.
How to Safely Buy a Switchblade Online
While it’s now legal to purchase and carry an automatic switchblade knife in most areas, safety and legal compliance are still important. So what should you look for? And for that matter, what should you avoid?
For starters, do some research into the most popular knife manufacturers. Purchasing directly through their sites can be an easy way to ensure legality.
Also, pay close attention to the details of the knife or knives you’re interested in purchasing. Again, each state law is different, and some states have a limit on blade size. Fortunately, most websites make it easy to find out about an individual knife’s specifications.
Finally, look for licensed dealers and websites. That way, you can feel safe and comfortable with your purchase.
Stay Sharp: Switchblades and Legality
Before we call it a day, let’s recap what we’ve learned.
Are switchblades legal? Well, sort of. When push comes to shove, it’s at the discretion of your state.
And even if you live in a state where carrying a switchblade is legal, you may need to obtain licensing or ensure that your blade follows basic guidelines.
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