WA State Knife Laws - Confused

WA State Knife Laws - Confused

This is a discussion on WA State Knife Laws - Confused within the Defensive Knives & Other Weapons forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've been trying to sort out the WA State knife laws and as we all know, they are very confusing. And to complicate thing, individual ...

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Thread: WA State Knife Laws - Confused

  1. #1
    Member Array MikeSD's Avatar
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    WA State Knife Laws - Confused

    I've been trying to sort out the WA State knife laws and as we all know, they are very confusing. And to complicate thing, individual municipalities can have their own laws. The reason this is of great concern isn't because of any need to carry concealed. A knife, to me, is a tool, not a weapon. I carry one ONLY for use as a tool. If I want protection, I carry a firearm.

    However, violation of a knife law, can cause one to lose their CPL and that is of major importance.

    I have two points of interest in understanding these:

    1) The actual state law
    2) And city pre-emption of CPL law

    State Law:

    Blade length: I cannot find anything in the WA State law that limits the blade length of a folding knife.

    Is there any blade length restrictions, in WA State laws? What is the specific RCW for this, if any?

    Concealed carry: I can't find anything in WA State law that covers this directly. I know the CPL only covers firearms so there is no relief there.

    9.41.250 talks about penalties and does mention "dangerous weapons" but the state tried to specifically add knives earlier in the year and that was nixed. So I'm not sure that "dangerous weapons" includes knives. But even if it is (which seems likely) the actual crime uses "furtively" which implies some sort of specific intent to conceal.

    So, would carrying it on a belt, EVER get one in trouble, with state law, with regards to carrying a knife?

    Knife mechanism

    There is mention in state law about gravity knives and how they are opened with centrifugal and outward thrust, etc, as being illegal. But there are a lot of knives that have the thumb stud on the blade and a release mechanism on the handle, that allow the knife to be fliped open with the thumb OR by releasing the mechanism with the thumb and then flipping the knife open.

    I'm wondering is that will somehow make those knives illegal, as worded in the state law. For instance the Benchmade 275 Adamas, is legally sold. Apart from city restrictions on blade length, I'm wondering if this knife could ever get someone in trouble, because of the mechanism to open it. It's a very common design. But when the blade lock is operated with the thumb, it essentially becomes a gravity controlled blade. Without a positive thumb release, the knife is held closed an no amount of flipping can open it. It requires some action on the part of the user, to start the blade or release the lock. The state law doesn't say anything about a knife with a locking mechanism being released as being relief from this law.

    City laws:

    I have read some of the city laws. Seattle for one says that if you violate their law, you will lose your CPL. I'm wondering how one can lose a CPL (which is controlled by the state) merely because a city says so. The city crime is only a misdemeanor and state law doesn't restrict CPL to misdemeanor violations.

    Very confusing...

    Again, I'm not looking for urban legends but more on commentary of actual laws that people can cite for or against their positions.
    Last edited by MikeSD; October 17th, 2012 at 03:27 PM.


  2. #2
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    1. This bill and now law cleaned up some of the confusion. It was HB 2347
    http://www.blademag.com/profiles/blo...-bill-into-law

    2. Blade length is set by cites and counties. Some allow only 3" others 4". Fixed blades are still a grey area in my mind. Seattle for instance clearly defines a "dangerous Weapon" as a FIXED blade over 3.5". Some other cities are similar.
    Example the City of Seattle language:
    ""Dangerous knife" means any fixed-blade knife and any other knife having a blade more than (3 1/2") in length"

    Sultan, WA to show a variation:
    " having a blade longer than the length of four or more inches"

    Note it does not define as a folder or fixed.

    And yet another a City of 50k that is 8 miles away from my home and I frequent it. It is Everett, WA

    "“Dangerous knife” means any knife having a blade more than three inches in length"



    3. Blade length info and language here
    http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/USKnife2.pdf

    I am not a lawyer and IMO it would take one to sort out this mess. What I do is as follows ( your milage may vary depending where you live and frequent ) as well as your interpretation :

    1. Fixed blade is out
    2. I carry one of two folders both less than 3" and either basic black ( no tactical cameo look) or a bright color such as blue or even bright Orange
    3. I also carry OC spray. The intent is to have a few options and in my mind, to have on my body less than lethal options. ( yes, I am aware a knife is lethal and IMO in many case more so than some handguns, but it is perception; By LEO's, and perhaps a DA or Jury).

    Hope it helps. But its my research and logic and non lawyer opinion.



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  3. #3
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    It definitely varies city-by-city. Moses lake disallows anything over 3". I bought a 2.91" mini-griptillian specifically for when I visit in-laws up there...

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    Member Array MikeSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xader View Post
    It definitely varies city-by-city. Moses lake disallows anything over 3". I bought a 2.91" mini-griptillian specifically for when I visit in-laws up there...
    I just bought a couple of Benchmades, both illegal in most cities that specify legal length. One is the 275 Adamas and the other is the 810 Contego. I bought them because they are very well made knives and I'd like something longer than 3", when I'm out in the mountains. I suppose there are still laws to deal with out there but most likely wouldn't run into any problems.

    But I will also be getting an assisted knife that is just under 3", to make sure I'm ok in most cities.

    I just don't understand why this state fails to recognize that a knife is also a valueable and sometimes necessary tool. They are not only about weapons. Laws should be about "how you use them" and not so much about "how evil someone thinks they are".

    The other thing I really wonder about is the law regarding gravity type knives. Nowhere in the laws do they say that if you operate a lever (lock mechanism) that it's not a gravity knife. The actual description about flipping, the effect of gravity, outward thrust, etc, apply to Axis locking knives as well. I can apply all those words and flip my knives open. But I doubt that's what the law was intended to cover. There should be something in the law that says if you have to operate a lock mechanism to release the blade, it's not a gravity knife.

    The other thing that makes me think these axis lock knives are ok, is because the same words that make gravity knives illegal, also makes them illegal to sell and we have stores all over the state selling these locking knives (i.e. benchmade 275) so they must be legal, in terms of knife type.

  5. #5
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    Just to muddy this up a little. I asked this very same question at a knife shop recently as the blade I was buying was about three inches. He said it's where the serrations or the blade edge starts.
    Last edited by C hawk Glock; October 18th, 2012 at 12:52 PM.
    Ccccccc what? Ccccccccccc Hawks!

  6. #6
    Member Array MikeSD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C hawk Glock View Post
    Just to muddy this up a little. I asked this very same question at a knife shop recently as the blade I was buying was about three inches. He said it's where the serrations or the blade edge starts.
    I was told it was from the handle to the tip. Where the edge is makes no difference. I'm thinking anyone trying to prosecuted someone will use that definition.

    I guess we should be lucky that it's not the measured length, of a removed blade, from end to end, counting the part that is in the handle.

  7. #7
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    1. I was told it is from Handle to Tip also.
    2. This may help clear up the Gravity knife issue a bit

    "
    American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) Advisory Member Spencer Frazer, founder of SOG Specialty Knives & Tools of Lynnwood, Washington, testified at the house judiciary committee hearing in support of HB 2347 ( now passed and Law)
    “The definition of switchblade needs to be clarified, and this bill does that,” he commented regarding changes that include, “A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.” This is the same “bias toward closure” language that AKTI introduced and has been successfully passed in other states and incorporated in to the 2009 amendment to the Federal Switchblade Act."


    Remember asking a LEO friend etc. is pretty much a crap shoot. Some may know the law, many will not. It is all based on not just the law, but the Case Law that follows

    Do keep in mind they can pull your Concealed Weapon permit if you screw it up and do have to use it, plus who knows what else.


    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.

    My take from above on 9.41.270 of the 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.




    In my layman view this excludes a lot of other things tang are solely designed to Stab, club or cut.

    It is IMO OK to carry:
    A tactical Flashlight/Pen
    Kubatan
    Cane

    I believe this because self defense is not the intended purpose and if you use them you are just repurposing them in a emergency

    I would suggest really reading over the other weapon section carefully. It is I have stated a mess but it could bite you.

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  8. #8
    Member Array MikeSD's Avatar
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    The part that says, "or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand", makes assisted knives legal and not switchblades. However, I don't think that definition gives relief of an axis locking mechanims, from being classified as a gravity knife, if the tension is removed to the point where it can be flipped open with an outward or centrifugual flip, even if the lock must be held back.

    If you look at the wording of that section talking about gravity... specifically:

    "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"

    In my view, that section is really talking about butterfly knives but one never knows how far a prosecutor would try to push the vague wording of the law, to include other knives that can be flipped open. These words can apply to axis lock mechanisms as well.

    The ONE (or best) argument against an axis lock being legal is that spring assisted axis knives are specifically legal, so one without the assist surely sould be "as legal". They are the same knife, except the spring assist takes over where gravity or centrifugual force is required on the other. AND both have spring bias toward closure.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array Happypuppy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSD View Post
    The part that says, "or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand", makes assisted knives legal and not switchblades. However, I don't think that definition gives relief of an axis locking mechanims, from being classified as a gravity knife, if the tension is removed to the point where it can be flipped open with an outward or centrifugual flip, even if the lock must be held back.

    If you look at the wording of that section talking about gravity... specifically:

    "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"

    In my view, that section is really talking about butterfly knives but one never knows how far a prosecutor would try to push the vague wording of the law, to include other knives that can be flipped open. These words can apply to axis lock mechanisms as well.

    The ONE (or best) argument against an axis lock being legal is that spring assisted axis knives are specifically legal, so one without the assist surely sould be "as legal". They are the same knife, except the spring assist takes over where gravity or centrifugual force is required on the other. AND both have spring bias toward closure.
    Good analysis. I would agree with it. The selection is critical if you ever have to use it. The law is still far to vague and can be interpreted many ways. I agree also that the gravity clause was directed to the Ballisong , one of the more difficult knives to manipulate well.


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  10. #10
    Member Array MikeSD's Avatar
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    I think you understood what I said but after rereading I realized I made a small typo.

    I said, "The ONE (or best) argument against an axis lock being legal "

    Should have said,

    "The ONE (or best) argument against an axis lock being illegal" OR
    "The ONE (or best) argument in support of an axis lock being legal"

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