Florida imposes some harsh sentences for certain crimes. Mandatory minimums for violating any state law involving a weapon — like a knife — could land you behind bars for quite awhile. Is it legal to carry a knife in Florida? Are any knives illegal to possess? Let’s cover Florida knife laws and answer some common questions.
Florida Knife Laws to Know in 2023
NOTE: This is not legal advice, and Knife Know-It-All does not provide legal counsel. If you’re uncertain about any Florida knife laws, contact a local attorney.
- Q: Can I concealed carry a knife in Florida?
- Q: Besides pocketknives, can I concealed carry other knives?
- Q: Can I open carry a knife in Florida?
- Q: Where is it illegal to carry a knife in Florida?
- Q: What knives are legal in Florida?
- Q: Why are ballistic knives illegal in Florida?
- Q: Is there a maximum blade length for knives in Florida?
- Q: At what age can I carry a concealed knife in Florida?
- Q: Can I carry a knife for self-defense in Florida?
Q: Can I concealed carry a knife in Florida?
A: Yes, as of July 1st, 2023, a permit will no longer be required to concealed carry any knife. The Florida legislature passed HB 543, “An act relating to the concealed carry of weapons and firearms without a license.” This bill legalizes permitless carry, which allows Florida residents to legally carry a concealed firearm and concealed knife without a state-issued weapon permit.
Before the passage of HB 543, Florida residents were only allowed to concealed carry a common pocketknife with a blade measuring 4″ or less. The Florida Supreme Court defined a common pocketknife as, “A type of knife occurring frequently in the community which has a blade that folds into the handle and that can be carried in one’s pocket.”
When drafting this definition in 1997, the Supreme Court also agreed with a legal opinion issued in 1951 by former Florida Attorney General Richard Ervin, Jr., who said that a common pocketknife had a blade measuring 4″ or less.
Q: Besides pocketknives, can I concealed carry other knives?
A: HB 543 allows Florida residents to concealed carry butterfly knives, automatic knives, switchblades, and other knives without a permit. The bill amends state law to allow other types knives to be carried concealed without a license. Those other knives include automatic knives, butterfly knives, fixed blades, and switchblades.
Q: Can I open carry a knife in Florida?
A: Yes, it is legal to open carry a knife in Florida. However, it’s important to act responsibly when displaying a knife in public. Florida Statute 790.10 says that exhibiting a weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, except for self-defense, is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Q: Where is it illegal to carry a knife in Florida?
A: There are some private and public places where you cannot carry a knife. Those places include:
- Any place wherein illegal activity is occurring (unlicensed gambling, prostitution)
- Any part of an establishment that dispenses alcoholic beverages
- Schools, administration buildings, colleges, and universities
- Law enforcement buildings, including all police stations
- Detention facilities, prisons, and jails
- Courthouses and courtrooms
- Polling places and precincts
- Government and municipal buildings
- Professional athletic events
- Airport passenger terminals
- Wherever federal law prohibits carrying a weapon
Q: What knives are legal in Florida?
A: All knives, except ballistic knives, are legal to own and possess in Florida. It’s legal to own butterfly knives (Balisongs), swords, automatic knives, switchblades, throwing knives, gravity knives, fixed blades, and all other bladed weapons except for a ballistic knife.
Q: Why are ballistic knives illegal in Florida?
A: The state says self-propelled knives are dangerous or deadly weapons, and considers them contraband. Florida Statute 790.225 says, “It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, display, sell, own, possess, or use a ballistic self-propelled knife which is a device that propels a knife-like blade as a projectile and which physically separates the blade from the device by means of a coil spring, elastic material, or compressed gas.”
Q: Is there a maximum blade length for knives in Florida?
A: It is legal to own and possess a knife with a blade of any length in Florida. Before the passage of HB 543, a knife could only be carried concealed without a license if it had a blade measuring 4″ or less. That restriction is no longer part of Florida state law as of July 1st, 2023.
Q: At what age can I carry a concealed knife in Florida?
A: You must be 21 years of age to carry a concealed knife in Florida. Per HB 543, Active-duty military and military veterans discharged under honorable conditions who are under the age of 21 are exempt from this age requirement.
Q: Can I carry a knife for self-defense in Florida?
A: Yes, it is legal to use deadly force in self-defense with a firearm, knife, or weapon. Florida Statute 776.012 says, “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”