Knives are tools that people utilize for a variety of different trades, but they are also potentially weapons. The state of Massachusetts has rules in place regarding knives, just as it does for other common weapons and firearms.

Unlike many other states, Massachusetts does not prohibit residents from owning any particular form of knife. Even so-called butterfly knives and switchblade knives, often targeted by bans in other states, are perfectly legal to own in Massachusetts.

What many people fail to realize until an encounter with law enforcement is that while you can own many different styles of knives in Massachusetts, you can’t necessarily carry them on your person while out in public. If police stop you with a dangerous knife in your possession, you could face weapons charges.

Carrying certain kinds of knives, whether openly or concealed, is illegal

Open carry means having a weapon visibly displayed to others in public. An example of an open carry knife could be a hunting knife in a sheath on your belt. Concealed carry obviously implies that those you interact with won’t realize you have a weapon in your possession. Placing a knife in your pocket or any briefcase or purse would qualify as carrying a concealed weapon depending on the circumstances.

Under Massachusetts law, it is only legal for people to carry certain kinds of knives in public. Folding knives, also known as jackknives, as well as multi-purpose/Swiss Army knives and kitchen knives are the only knives individuals can legally carry in Massachusetts.

The law specifically prohibits individuals from publicly carrying:

  • switchblades
  • ballistic knives
  • double-edged knives
  • knuckle knives such as trench spikes
  • dirks
  • stilettos
  • daggers

The same prohibition also applies to blow guns, slingshots, nunchucks, shuriken and other common martial arts weapons. The potential penalties could include between six months and five years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the person’s arrest and their previous criminal history.