Illinois knife law


June 11, 2006, 12:11 PM
Hey guys, thinking about getting a knife or two, just wanted to be sure I stay legal and didn't miss something in the saving whales and wildlife children act of 1980 or something like that. It looks like the summary is carry nothing with a blade over 3" and you can't even own an automatic for home use. Is that about it?

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American By Blood
June 11, 2006, 03:25 PM
The regulations regarding autoknives are actually federal, but a few states (OR, AZ, and a couple others) have questioned the constitutionality of the switchblade ban and asserted their right to allow their sale, ownership, and carry.

One thing to look into is what constitutes concealment of a folding knife in IL. When I was a young boy from the northern suburbs who liked knives, clip folders (IE Spyderco knives and the like) weren't yet terribly common so I made a point of not putting anything longer than 3" or 3.5" (I can't remember now) in my pocket. However, some states have ruled that having a clip sticking out of your pocket renders the knife unconcealed. Check the relevant IL statutes because that clip is a great way to get a whole lot more blade and handle into your pocket.

Don Gwinn
June 11, 2006, 05:40 PM has a searchable and certified archive of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

The Federal regulations regarding autos are certainly federal, but the Illinois state laws written in the Illinois Compiled Statutes are state law, I assure you. ;)

If you can open the blade without touching the blade, by using a switch, stud, button, etc "in the handle" of the knife, then it's a "switchblade" under Illinois law and verboten. You may not carry, buy, sell, give, or possess such a nasty device.

By my amateur lawyer reading, this is the reason assisted-opening knives like the Ken Onion designs are legal in Illinois--you must push the blade part of the way open, even if you're only pushing on the "flipper"--and that "flipper" is still part of the blade, not a control in the handle. IANAL, but this conclusion was also reached by the Tazewell County State's Attorney when some Peoria-area police arrested a man for possessing a Kershaw designed by Onion, so I think it's pretty firm.

Concealment is irrelevant in Illinois law as regards knives. The bottom line is that any number of knives are illegal for carry with intent unlawfully to harm another, and if they aren't specifically banned as "dirks, daggers, etc." then there's a clause which prohibits "dangerous knives." This term is not defined anywhere in the Compiled Statutes.
Therefore, any knife any police officer finds on you is grounds for arrest--he can always claim that it is a "dangerous knife" and since such is undefined, the arrest at least will probably stand. In court, who knows?

However, again by my amateur wannabe lawyering, even a "dangerous knife" is only prohibited if you are carrying it with intent to hurt someone "unlawfully." So carrying it with no intent is perfectly legal. Carrying it for self-defense is perfectly legal. Carrying it to shank your meth connection and jack his supply of Pseudofed is illegal and can be tacked on when you're arrested for the other crimes you're committing, which seems to be the only real purpose of such a law.

There is no mention of concealing a knife or carrying one openly in the law--Illinois does not address this issue.

Don Gwinn
June 11, 2006, 05:51 PM
Just so you understand that I practice what I preach, here's what I carry every day (but not to school, of course.)

It's a Camillus Cuda Maxx 5.5. It has a five-and-one-half-inch D2 blade and is about 11-11.5 inches overall when open. It's not just big, it's a fantastic knife, but it is in fact huge. It is perfectly legal in Illinois.
This does not necessarily mean that I won't be arrested for carrying it, but I do have confidence that the charges will be dropped if that ever happens. I carry it nearly every day, and I've never cut anyone with it yet, so proving that I have intent to hurt someone with it--unlawfully, remember--should be impossible.

June 11, 2006, 06:42 PM
I always ask because it seems like Illinois likes to put weapon laws into several places. For instance when I first got a gun I was surprised to find out I had to look at the wildlife code as well as the criminal code....I figured if I'm not hunting.... Thats why I figured I'd just ask too.

You're right though doesn't look like UUW applies to my use. The only place I'm actually seeing length cited in 720 ILCS 5/Art. 33A which would just set the penalty for using my big scary 3+" knife in a crime.

Looks like a spyderco civilian for out and about maybe but sadly no microtech halo at home for me ;)

June 11, 2006, 08:54 PM
Just beaware Chicago Knife law is different from the rest of the state. 2 1/2" is what I have been advised by a CPD Sarge. He was surprised when he looked it up for me.

So not know about Cook County.


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