what size knife can I carry in CA?


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MDG1976
March 19, 2009, 09:01 AM
I'm going to be doing some hiking and I thought that I read somewhere that there's a size limit on the knife you can legally carry. Anyone know? Thanks

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indoorsoccerfrea
March 19, 2009, 09:17 AM
http://www.ninehundred.net/~equalccw/knifelaw.html

edit: as far as i can tell, any fixed knife must be open carried, but any folder can be open or concealed as long as it is in the closed position.

Librarian
March 19, 2009, 05:55 PM
That turns out to be a can of worms.

Generally 'fixed blade carried openly, folder (closed) in pocket' is OK, but there are no state-wide standards on size (other than switch blades, which is "under 2 inches").

But there IS a limit for schools, and it's different for K-12 + University of CA vs CSU and community colleges, and individual cities and park districts and what-all can, and sometimes do, have their own rules.

You can easily drive yourself crazy with this stuff.

IMO, based on nothing more than living here for about 20 years, if you're just out for a nice hike, and if you don't look 'scary', and you don't give LEO problems, they'll pretty much leave you alone.

Jim March's summary, linked above, is still the best useful explanation.

woof
March 20, 2009, 07:59 AM
Fixed blade has to be carried open? Does that mean a fixed blade food knife can't be carried in a backpack?

Librarian
March 20, 2009, 12:23 PM
Fixed blade has to be carried open? Does that mean a fixed blade food knife can't be carried in a backpack?

It could mean that, if you fail the attitude check.

But mostly it means 'concealed weapon' kinds of applications. The actual PC is 12020. (a) Any person in this state who does any of the following
is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year
or in the state prison:
...
(4) Carries concealed upon his or her person any dirk or dagger.
...
(24) As used in this section, a "dirk" or "dagger" means a knife
or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of
ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury
or death. A nonlocking folding knife, a folding knife that is not
prohibited by Section 653k, or a pocketknife is capable of ready use
as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death
only if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.
'In a backpack' and related is considered 'on his or her person'.

That last line of (24) is where a folded folder is not a 'dirk or dagger', so folders may usually be pocket-carried.

That 'dirk or dagger' stuff seems to confuse out of state knife sellers; some of those folk won't sell anything double-edged into CA, apparently because some double-edged knives are called 'daggers'. Nothing illegal about selling, owning or using them -- they're for sale in places like Big 5 here.

Zoogster
March 20, 2009, 04:50 PM
Just to come add further confusion because Librarian explained it quite clearly:

The statute mentions "stabbing" weapon, not knife. So while it applies to knives it also applies to screwdrivers, pointy sticks, ice picks or anything else that can be used to stab.
But only if they are concealed.
You you can open carry any stabbing weapon. But you cannot carry a stabbing weapon concealed.

Now if it has a blunt tip and is not "readily useable as a stabbing weapon" then it can be carried concealed technicaly. So a butcher's meat cleaver, a blunt machete, a shortsword with the tip cut off etc would all be legal to carry concealed or openly.
(Don't expect a cop to know that.)
They can even legaly be carried for the purpose of self defense, or as a weapon.

However a blunt weapon, or perfectly legal blunt object carried for the same purpose is a felony.
If you have a small bat, a blunt stick, a metal bar, a flashlight, a walking cane, keychain attachment, heavy purse, rock, random heavy object, roll of coins, or any similar item and you ever once say you carrry it for self defense you are guilty of a felony. Many of those items are perfectly legal, but not if you plan to use to use one as a weapon even in self defense.
If you say the several foot long blade you are carrying is for self defense it is perfectly legal.


However under the Grubb ruling and the McKinney ruling a normal item is only illegal if you admit to its intended use as a weapon, mentioning self defense is such an admission.
If a blunt item is manufactured specificly as a weapon then it is illegal without such an admission. (So blunt martial art weapons are always illegal. Make sure it has a blade if you want to carry a martial art weapon.)

So do not ever admit to having any blunt object or regular everyday item for self defense in the state of CA. Do not ever say you carry something in case you are attacked, to fend off dogs, fend of mountain lions or other wild animals, or any other purpose unless it is a legal bladed weapon.
No blunt objects are legal weapons, but they can be legal items to carry.
If you just happen to be carrying one when you are attacked it is perfectly legal to defend yourself with it. If you plan to defend yourself it is a felony.
Even a rock is an illegal felony.

A great case that explains most of it is this one against Fannin:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/a090617.pdf
Fannin was carrying a bicycle lock on a chain. It would not have resulted in a conviction except for the fact that he mentioned he had it for self defense.
'Fannin said he had it for self-defense;
someone had tried to “punk” him the day before, and due to a previous head injury he
was particularly vulnerable to blows to the head.'

That took his carrying of the item from legal to felony because he admited to carrying it for self defense.

So the irony is that a practice sword (stick on a handle) could be a felony, while an actual sword is perfectly legal to carry for defense.

Sorry I just thought Librarian left it seeming like common sense, the weapon laws are far from common sense.

Prion
March 20, 2009, 05:30 PM
I lived in CA for many years and carried a folder clipped to my right rear pocket everday as I have for most of my life. Never an issue. California does have a lot of BS laws but it also has a lot of serious crime so a knife alone won't attract much attention, especially in the woods. Just don't act guilty or sketchy and LEO's are usually cool. One fellow, in an area I hiked a lot, was arrested wearing a ski mask, dressed in black head to toe carrying a Mini-14. A couple other guys were arrested after automatic fire was reported by the river. They were bump firing thirty round mags in a very public area used by many for swimming. A woman was raped and killed at a trailhead along the American River. With the meth heads and dope growers roaming the woods cops in CA have a lot more to worry about than your knife.

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