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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Massachusetts State Knife Laws

Massachusetts is a brutal state for knife ownership, in keeping with their proud tradition of extraordinary government overreach and invasiveness into the most mundane matters of civilization.

The poor denizens of Massachusetts along with visitors will be harshly constrained by state laws that explicitly forbid a great many knives based on the shape of their blades alone, and additional, seemingly innocuous features will also earmark a knife as forbidden.

Massachusetts flag

As you are probably already expecting Massachusetts lacks entirely any Statewide preemption statute of any kind that might rescue residents and travelers alike from an increasingly treacherous patchwork of varying state and local laws affecting what kind of knife they might carry, under what conditions they may carry it, and where they may legally carry it.

There is nothing easy about navigating Massachusetts knife laws but we have done our best in the rest of the article below.

What You Need to Know

  • What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: Any knife except the following – Ballistic knives, any double-edged knife, any switchblade with a blade over 1.5”, stilettos, dirks, daggers and any folding knife equipped or designed with a device or feature that allows it to be drawn with the blade in the opened and locked position.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Yes, any legal knife.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Yes, any legal knife.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Yes.

General Ownership

Sifting through Massachusetts knife laws is a unique challenge. Between the length, intricacy and seemingly contradictory statutes it is very difficult to arrive at a definitive determination of what is and is not allowed when it comes to knives under varying circumstances.

This is likely by design, as Massachusetts has proven time and time again in the past that they will harshly punish any transgressions regarding weapons.

The less certain and secure the populace feels when it comes to carrying them the less likely they are to risk carrying them. Ergo, mission accomplished for the nanny stating overlords of Massachusetts.

Generally speaking, you are forbidden from possessing or having on or about your person any double-edged knife, any stiletto, any dirk, dagger, switchblade with a blade longer than 1 ½ inches or any ballistic knife.

Considering the double-edged knife, the duplicity that Massachusetts shows over such a seemingly obvious feature is difficult to believe; they consider even an unsharpened false edge or a clip point that is just a bit too acute to be a double-edged knife.

This is not conjecture, and this is not theory; such cases have been tried in court to the detriment of the unfortunate person on the receiving end of the Massachusetts justice system.

Equally troubling is Massachusetts’ prohibition on any folding knife designed or equipped with a device that is intended to allow the knife to be drawn with the blade in the deployed or locked position.

This could be anything from a hook or “wave” feature on the spine of the blade to an entire category of knife, such as a butterfly knife.

Lastly you are not safe to carry an assisted-opening knife in the state of Massachusetts thanks for the state’s description in the text concerning automatic knives and switchblades, including any such knife with “an automatic spring release” into that category.

There is no language exempting assisted-opening knives such as the increasingly popular and sensible “bias towards closure” clause.

Concealed Carry, No Permit

Concealed carry of knives in Massachusetts is legal without a permit so long as your knife is legal.

Concealed Carry, With Permit

Possessing a Massachusetts concealed weapons permit affords you no additional privileges when it comes to knives. Once again you may carry any knife concealed, with a permit, so long as your knife is otherwise legal.

Open Carry

There is no issue with open carrying a knife in Massachusetts so long as the knife is legal. However, considering how aggressive this pearl-clutching state is you would be ill-advised to do so lest you get yoked up for some petty charge of disturbing the peace and then tagged with weapons charges accordingly.

Prohibited Places

As always school zones are forbidden, all the way from grade school up to and through college and post-secondary schools. You may, however, carry a legal knife on the grounds of a college or post-secondary school if you have the express written permission of the ranking official at the school.

Assessment

Massachusetts statutes covering civilian ownership and carry of knives are ambiguous, extremely long and difficult to interpret.

You’ll be walking a tightrope to make sure the type of life you choose to carry is legal, and furthermore is legal wherever you choose to carry it as there is no statewide preemption in Massachusetts.

Assuming that the knife is legal a concealed weapons permit is not required, but that is hardly a silver lining considering everything else that knife owners must deal with in the state.

Important Massachusetts State Statutes

Chapter 269 CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC PEACE Section 10 Carrying dangerous weapons; possession of machine gun or sawed-off shotguns; possession of large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device; punishment

(b) Whoever, except as provided by law, carries on his person, or carries on his person or under his control in a vehicle, any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches, or (…) a shuriken or any similar pointed starlike object intended to injure a person when thrown, (…); or whoever, when arrested upon a warrant for an alleged crime, or when arrested while committing a breach or disturbance of the public peace, is armed with or has on his person, or has on his person or under his control in a vehicle, a billy or other dangerous weapon other than those herein mentioned and those mentioned in paragraph (a), shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two and one-half years nor more than five years in the state prison, or for not less than six months nor more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction, except that, if the court finds that the defendant has not been previously convicted of a felony, he may be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction.

(d) Whoever, after having been convicted of any of the offenses set forth in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) commits a like offense or any other of the said offenses, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than five years nor more than seven years; for a third such offense, by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than seven years nor more than ten years; and for a fourth such offense, by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than ten years nor more than fifteen years. The sentence imposed upon a person, who after a conviction of an offense under paragraph (a), (b) or (c) commits the same or a like offense, shall not be suspended, nor shall any person so sentenced be eligible for probation or receive any deduction from his sentence for good conduct.

(e) Upon conviction of a violation of this section, the firearm or other article shall, unless otherwise ordered by the court, be confiscated by the commonwealth. The firearm or article so confiscated shall, by the authority of the written order of the court be forwarded by common carrier to the colonel of the state police, who, upon receipt of the same, shall notify said court or justice thereof. Said colonel may sell or destroy the same, except that any firearm which may not be lawfully sold in the commonwealth shall be destroyed, and in the case of a sale, after paying the cost of forwarding the article, shall pay over the net proceeds to the commonwealth.

Chapter 269 CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC PEACE Section 12 Manufacturing and selling knives, slung shots, swords, bludgeons and similar weapons

Whoever manufactures or causes to be manufactured, or sells or exposes for sale, an instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as a dirk knife, a switch knife or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, slung shot, sling shot, bean blower, sword cane, (…)a shuriken or any similar pointed starlike object intended to injure a person when thrown, (…) shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months; provided, however, that sling shots may be manufactured and sold to clubs or associations conducting sporting events where such sling shots are used.

Chapter 269 CRIMES AGAINST PUBLIC PEACE Section 10 Carrying dangerous weapons; possession of machine gun or sawed-off shotguns; possession of large capacity weapon or large capacity feeding device; punishment

(j) For the purposes of this paragraph, ”firearm” shall mean any pistol, revolver, rifle or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet or pellet can be discharged.

Whoever, not being a law enforcement officer and notwithstanding any license obtained by the person pursuant to chapter 140, carries on the person a firearm, loaded or unloaded, or other dangerous weapon in any building or on the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, college or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of the elementary or secondary school, college or university shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both. A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant and detain a person found carrying a firearm in violation of this paragraph.

Any officer in charge of an elementary or secondary school, college or university or any faculty member or administrative officer of an elementary or secondary school, college or university that fails to report a violation of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not more than $500.

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