Knife Laws in Georgia (GA)


Overview of Georgia Knife Laws

When re-written in 2012, Georgia knife laws were simplified and made more straightforward, overall. They are, however, still confusing in places. In Georgia there are no limits on possession of knives: it is legal to own any kind of knife. The only limits involve carry knives, and that's where some of the confusion comes in – since the new bill signed by Governor Nathan Deal in 2017.

O.C.G.A. § 16-11-126 (2012) (a) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.

(h) 1 No person shall carry a weapon without a valid weapons carry license [except for certain exemptions that apply only to guns].

Here, "weapon" is used to designate a knife or handgun. And "knife" in Georgia's legal usage means "a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than five inches [now 12 inches] in length which is fastened to a handle."

So, basically, you can own any kind of knife you want just so long as you keep it in on your property, in your home or car, or at your business. And up until 2017, you could carry, either open or concealed, any knife with a blade five inches or less in length. To carry a knife with a blade longer than five inches, you needed a weapons carry license.

But that changed in 2017.

The Georgia Knife Law Reform Bill, SB 49, increased the blade-length limit for carry knives from five inches to 12 inches. So, now, it's legal to carry, open or concealed, any knife with a blade 12 inches or less in length. To carry a knife with a blade longer than 12 inches, requires a weapons carry license.

O.C.G.A. § 16-11-136 (2012) Restrictions on possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of knives: Except for restrictions in courthouses and government buildings, no county, municipality, or consolidated government shall, by rule or ordinance, constrain the possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of a knife more restrictively than the provisions of this part.

What this means is that beginning in 2012 local knife laws are no longer in force. A knife that is legal to carry in one city in Georgia is legal in all other cities – a welcome simplification of part of Georgia's knife laws.

The Georgia State Constitution preserves the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" and guards against infringement of this right, but the Constitution also reserves the right to the state of Georgia to "prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne." As a consequence, open or concealed carry of weapons, which includes knives, is restricted in bars, places of worship, courthouse facilities, government buildings, jails, prisons, and nuclear power plants.

Be aware, too, that under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-101 concerning sale and transfer, it is illegal to provide any person under the age of 18 a designated weapon. This would include, of course, any knife as "designed for the purposes of offense or defense." Violation of this prohibition would result in a misdemeanor charge.

Table of Contents

  1. Which Types of Knives are Legal in Georgia?
  2. Georgia Knife Laws Length
  3. Georgia Knife Open Carry Laws
  4. Georgia Concealed Knife Laws
  5. Pocket Knife Laws Georgia
  6. Fixed Blade Knife Laws in Georgia
  7. Georgia Butterfly Knife Laws
  8. Automatic Knife Laws Georgia
  9. Georgia Knife Laws in 2018

Which Types of Knives are Legal in Georgia?

Georgia law does not prohibit or forbid ownership of any type of knife or any length of knife blade, whether fixed blade, folding blade, or automatically exposed blade.

Type of Knife

Legal (*with restrictions)

Illegal

Pocket Knife / Folding Knife

X

 

Butterfly Knives

X

 

Switch Blade

X

 

Bowie Knives

X

 

Machete

X

 

Swords

X

 

Dirks / Daggers / Stilettos

X

 

Ballistic Knives

X

 

Misleading Knives

X

 

Hidden Knives

X

 

 

Georgia Knife Laws Length

Knives of any kind and any size can be owned in Georgia, with no restrictions on type or length, if kept within your home, car, or business. Only knives with a blade 12 inches or less in length can be carried without a weapons carry license, and greater than 12 inches requires the license.

There are, however, restrictions for schools, school grounds, and school-related venues. Various weapons, described as such and having a blade two or more inches in length, are prohibited in schools, on school grounds, within designated school safety zones, at school functions, or on school-provided transportation. These prohibited knives generally include bowie knives, switchblades, dirks, and razors because they usually have blades longer than two inches.

Georgia Knife Open Carry Laws

As we noted above, SB 49 increased the blade-length limit for carry knives from five inches to 12 inches. So, now, it is legal to open carry any knife with a blade 12 inches or less in length. To open carry a knife with a blade longer than 12 inches requires a weapons carry license. The same prohibitions obtain for open carry in schools, on school grounds, and in school buses. Knives with blades two inches or longer are not legal for open carry in these instances.

Georgia Concealed Knife Laws

The state of Georgia makes no distinction between open and concealed carry with respect to knives. So, again, any knife with a blade 12 inches long or less is legal to carry open or concealed without a license. For knives with blades longer than 12 inches, you need a weapons carry license. Again, the exception here is for schools, school grounds, and school buses where knives having blades two inches or more in length are prohibited.

Pocket Knife Laws Georgia

Georgia knife laws are uniform across the board, and knives, including pocket knives, can be legally owned. The same blade-length restriction applies to folding knives as for other knives, but it is unlikely a pocket-knife blade will exceed 12 inches. And only pocket knives with blades less than two inches long would be legal to carry, whether open or concealed, in schools, on school grounds, at school functions, and on school transportation.

Fixed Blade Knife Laws in Georgia

While the longest of all knives, fixed-blade knives are treated the same as any other knife under Georgia law. Any length or variation can be owned, and only those with blades longer than 12 inches require a permit for either open or concealed carry – except of course in or near schools. The less-than-two-inches blade restriction for schools and school grounds would make most fixed blade knives illegal to carry in or at these places.

Georgia Butterfly Knife Laws

Butterfly, or balisong, knives are no different from any other knives under Georgia law. Ownership is not restricted, and only knives with blades longer than 12 inches require a license for carry purposes while blades 12 inches or less are legal for unlicensed carry, both open and concealed. The only exception is the school-related one restricting legal carry to knives with blades less than two inches long.

Automatic Knife Laws Georgia

Laws concerning ownership and carry apply the same for automatic knives as for all other types of knives because, as stated above, Georgia law does not prohibit or forbid the mere ownership of any type of knife. Knives with blades 12 or less in length are legal for unlicensed open and concealed carry, and those with blades longer than that require a license, with the same school-related restrictions in place.

Georgia Knife Laws in 2018

There is nothing new on the horizon with respect to knife laws in Georgia for 2018. Georgia's knife laws were overhauled in 2012, and the blade length requiring licensed carry was increased to longer than 12 inches in May of 2017. Since then, there have been no changes in or additions to knife laws, and no new laws have been enacted in the state of Georgia.


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