While some states have laws that regulate the use of knives by classifying them according to the opening mechanism or style and shape of their blade, Texas removed its old, similar knife laws. Instead of the complicated legislation that assigned different knife types to particular knives, Texas opted for a more straightforward classification system for bladed weapons.
As of 2017, Texas knife laws classify knives based solely on the knife blade’s length. This system for knife classification already simplifies the law, making it easier to understand and regulate. Furthermore, the state of Texas continues to disentangle the complexities of its former laws by only concerning itself with two “types” of knives.
What Types of Knives Are Legal To Carry in Texas?
According to statute § 46.01, a “knife” may be “any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person with the instrument.” The two types of knives classified by current Texas state law include “location restricted knife” and “knife.”
“Location Restricted Knife”
Texas knife laws deem any bladed hand instrument with a blade longer than 5.5” a “location restricted knife” under Chapter 46 of the Penal Code. While these knives are legal to own and carry in Texas, as the name suggests, there are restrictions on locations where people can have these knives.
Since the 1999 case of McMurrough v. The State of Texas, Chapter 46 identifies the blade of a knife as the “flat-edged part of the knife, which includes the sharpened part of the instrument and any remaining flat-edged part up to, but not including, the handle.”
In addition to location restrictions, Chapter 46 of the Penal Code also indicates that knives with blades over 5.5” in length cannot be in possession of any person under the age of 18. Exceptions include wielding the knife on the person’s own property or property under that person’s control, if the knife is being used for legal hunting or fishing purposes, or if the person is under the direct supervision of their parent or legal guardian.
Chapter 46 deems any other bladed hand instrument with a blade less than or equal to 5.5” in length as simply a “knife.” There are no restrictions for any person, including persons under the age of 18, to possess a knife with a blade less than or equal to 5.5” in length.
What Types of Knives Are Illegal To Carry in Texas?
Even though most knives are legal to carry in Texas, there are still a few exceptions to the law for other bladed instruments. While some aren’t technically knives, be cautious if considering ownership of trench knives with knuckle dusters, brass knuckles, tomahawks, clubs, or axes.
Specific Codes and Restrictions
Location Restrictions for Location-Restricted Knives
Restrictions for knives with blades longer than 5.5” in length include:
- School grounds and other educational institutions, including areas where school-sponsored activities are taking place and passenger vehicles without written permissions from the institution
- Possession of the knife in a polling location on an election day or during early voting hours
- On government court or office premises without written permission from the court
- On the premises of a racetrack
- In or into a secured area of an airport
- Within 1,000 feet of a designated place of execution on a day that a death sentence takes place and the person receives notice that the weapon cannot be within 1,000 feet of the location
- Most locations where over 51% of the profit earned comes from the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises
- Locations where high school, collegiate, and professional sporting or interscholastic events occur unless the event requires the use of a location restricted knife.
- On the premises of a correctional facility
- On the premises of a hospital or nursing facility without written permission from the institution
- On the premises of a mental hospital without written permission from the institution
- In amusement parks
- On the premises of established places of worship
Exceptions for Law Enforcement and Military Personnel
Partial or entire exceptions to these Texas knife laws include:
- Peace officers or special investigators under Article 2.122
- Parole officers if the officer is on duty while carrying the weapon or in compliance with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice policies for on-duty officers
- Community supervision and corrections department officers engaged in their duty and authorized to carry the weapon under Section 76.0051, Government Code
- An active judicial officer who has a license to carry a handgun
- Honorably or qualified retired peace officers, law enforcement officers, federal criminal investigators, or former reserve law enforcement officers who hold a certificate of proficiency and a state, federal, or local law enforcement agency photo ID that verifies the person meets these requirements
- Attorneys and assistants to attorneys who have a license to carry handguns under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code
- Bailiffs designated by active judicial officers who have a license to carry a handgun and engaged in escorting the judicial officer
- Juvenile probation officers authorized to carry handguns
- Volunteer emergency service personnel who are carrying a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code or those on duty for providing emergency services
- Other exceptions provided under statute § 46.15 (Non-applicability)
Knives on Federal Property
A person cannot be in possession of a location-prohibited knife on federal property unless that person falls under one of the exceptions listed above.
Texas Knife Laws and Penalties
Class C knife misdemeanors under Texas knife laws result in a fine of up to $500 with no collateral disqualifications. Violations on school premises are felonies.
Legal Defenses for Knife Charges
Those with charges for knife possession in Texas have a few options for defense in their case. The most common defenses for knife charges include upholding that the knife was not outside of regulation, that the knife was unknowingly in the person’s possession, or that police found the knife during an illegal search or as a result of police misconduct.