Recently I spoke with a person who called me about being warned about possessing an unlawful weapon: a knife. A basic, run of the mill folding knife, where the blade locks into place so the weilder could safely use it without cutting themselves. A normal, store bought knife that was 3 inches long.
Illegal? The man was calling from San Antonio, where that knife IS illegal. But that answer is quite confusing, especially for people outside of San Antionio.
To understand Texas Knife Laws, it’s important to start with the statutes.
Sec. 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
To figure out which knives consititute an “illegal knife”, we look to Sec. 46.01. It reads:
TITLE 10. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND MORALS, CHAPTER 46. WEAPONS, Sec. 46.01(6) “Illegal knife” means a:
(A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
(B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
(C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;
(D) bowie knife;
(E) sword; or
(7) “Knife” means any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person with the instrument.
Of note is subsection (11) “Switchblade knife” means any knife that has a blade that folds, closes, or retracts into the handle or sheath and that opens automatically by pressure applied to a button or other device located on the handle or opens or releases a blade from the handle or sheath by the force of gravity or by the application of centrifugal force. The term does not include a knife that has a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure and open the knife.
This section — the all inclusive “or by the application of centrifugal force” SHOULD have it’s focus on a type of knife called a balisong. It should not, on it’s face, apply to thumb flick knives, where a nut is loosened (either on purpose or due to wear and tear), resulting in the wielder flicking the knife open without the use of the thumb knob – regardless of the detent. But, I’ve seen it charged on lock knives where the nut is loosened – again, regardless of the detent. Wrongly charges, or deliberate expansion of the statute? I would say it depends on the city/county.
Lastly, it’s very important to note that the above laws are Texas Laws. The 10th Amendment allows local municipalities (cities, towns) to write their own laws, as long as those law do not supersede the state laws. And many in Texas have done so.
For instance, recall how Sec. 46.01(6) outlaws an “Illegal knife” with a blade over five and one-half inches. Well, at the time of this writing, Corpus Christi city law further outlaws knives over 3 inches. Likewise, San Antonio outlaws any locking knife UNDER 5.5 inches long (while the State law still outlaws OVER 5.5 inches) — meaning knives are effectively outlawed in San Antonio.
One more note: Legislation may change the laws above.
HB936 attempted to decriminalize the possession of switchblade knives in Texas by amending Sections 46.05 (a)(d)(e) of the Penal Code.
HB1299 is a preemption law that would forbid cities, towns, and Counties from enacting anti-knife laws that might be more restrictive than Texas knife laws.
HB1862, which would repeal the Texas ban on switchblades.
Currently, I have not researched Legislative updates on these bills, the majority of which appeared to have stalled and fizzled out. If you’re research comes up with updates, please comment or contact me.
Update: Per www.akti.org, Governor Perry Signs Bill to Legalize Switchblades – June 14, 2013 – HB 1862. Effective September 1, 2013, it is no longer illegal to possess, manufacture, transport, repair or sell switchblades in the state of Texas.