Automatic Knife Laws for Washington, Missouri, California, and Florida

Automatic Knife Law is a term that covers laws, enacted at the state level, which regulates the sale and possession of spring-loaded knives. Automatic knife laws are typically based on two key factors: blade length and whether or not the knife is considered an automatic knife and OTF knife.

Automatic knives are defined as those with blades that can be released by pressing a button or catching on the handle. Automatic knives may also include daggers, stilettos, push blades (sliding blades), and switchblades (a manual mechanism).

Automatic Knife Laws for Washington, Missouri, California and Florida

The United States has no federal law regulating automatic knives; enforcement is left to individual states. As such, there are variations in what constitutes an illegal weapon from one state to another.

Some states prohibit ownership of automatic knives altogether. Others only prohibit the carrying of such knives on school grounds, at public assemblies, and in government buildings (e.g., courthouses).

States like California and Florida have Automatic Knife Laws that make it illegal to carry a concealed weapon unless you are with law enforcement or under certain circumstances where hunting is allowed.

Washington automatic knife law

Washington State law prohibits people from carrying with intent to conceal any dirk, dagger, or other stabbing instruments capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. There are some exceptions for businesses or schools that teach combat with these types of weapons.

Washington automatic knife law

The articles go on to say that Washington state has not enacted a separate ban on switchblades (or spring-propelled knives). Neither the prohibition against possession nor any specific violation under this section covers possession by someone 18 years or older (1) who is on private property with the permission of its owner, (b) for engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity such as hunting, fishing or camping.

Automatic knives are legal to own and sell but they can’t be carried concealed on your person unless you have certain work-related tasks that need them. 

A violation is either a misdemeanor or felony depending upon whether it was committed during the commission of any other crime (e.g., assault, burglary). If convicted as a class B felony punishable by up to ten years imprisonment then fine shall not exceed $20k;

if committed as an unclassified felony both at least three months imprisonment and a fine no more than $20k; if the conviction was for the class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment then fine shall not exceed $50k. Automatic knives are legal in Washington state.

Missouri Automatic Knife Law

The following information relates to Missouri’s definition of an “illegal knife” and the particular circumstances where a person has violated the law:

Missouri Automatic Knife Law

Any knife having a blade in excess of twelve (12) inches, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon from which a blade may be automatically projected by pressing a button, spring, or other mechanical device attached thereto; however, this shall not include knives used solely for the preparation of food, carving meat, cutting dressings for salads and vegetables, and similar uses;

All knives carrying concealed with metal knuckles or sand clubs except persons engaged in trades using such knives while working at the trade.

Possession of any illegal knife described in this section is a class A misdemeanor.

Violation can be either a misdemeanor or an unclassified felony depending on whether it is committed during the commission of any other crime (e.g., assault, burglary) during which case it’s considered armed criminal action punishable by at least five years imprisonment and/or fine no more than $15k.

Automatic knives are legal in Missouri so long as they do not fall into the unlawful possession category of dangerous weapons or any other categories that proscribe them (e.g., switchblades, throwing stars).

Florida automatic knife law

The sale and ownership of automatic knives are legal in Florida.

 The ownership, carrying, or sale of a blackjack, slingshot, metal knuckles, throwing stars, or nunchaku is illegal unless they are being transported to a buyer outside the state.

Florida automatic knife law

Furthermore, any person who sells an instrument designed for offensive purposes that projects a missile by air pressure is guilty of defacing an instrument, which can be either classified as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment and/or up-to $5k fine OR as a third-degree felony punishable with up to 7 years prison time and up to $5000 fine.

Second-degree misdemeanors carry maximum penalties while third-degree felonies carry minimum penalties (a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable with up to one year of jail time and a $1000 fine.) Automatic knives are legal in Florida.

California Automatic Knife Law

In California, the legality of the switchblade depends on its intent. In other words, a pocket knife is not considered a switchblade if it is carried for utilitarian purposes only and has no opening mechanism.

california automatic knife law

In Alabama, Indiana, and Michigan a person who carries a self-defense arm with a blade three inches long or longer in public must go to court and show “justification” before being allowed to carry that type of arm.

These states require that carrying these types of weapons be important enough to justify going through the courts before going into effect. Examples referred to by one or more sources as justifications are included below:

  • protecting yourself against strangling; defending others;
  • picking your teeth after eating food; protecting yourself against an animal attack;
  • self-defense.

Automatic knives are legal to own, sell or carry in California.


Automatic knives are legal in Washington, Missouri, and California. However, they may be illegal to carry on your person or concealed in Florida.

There is no Federal law that governs the possession of automatic knives; this means it’s up to individual states as far as what you can do with them. If you’re not sure about whether an automatic knife is legal where you live, read the state’s laws before purchasing one!


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