Washington knife laws

Eliteone2383

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Mods I know there is a knife law forum but please let this stay in GD as I need a answer quickly and the knife law forum does not produce much traction.

Does anyone have a clear answer on if a folding knife can be carried in Washington. I already know what can't be carried but from the knife law reading I just did there's nothing solid about unassisted folding knives. Thank you in advance.
 

aleforme

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To be honest. I'm not sure of the specific knife laws here in Washington state but I have carried folders every day for the 10 years I have been here and never had a single issue. I live in the Seattle area so if it's never been a problem here, I highly doubt you would have any issues in other areas.
 
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Mods I know there is a knife law forum but please let this stay in GD as I need a answer quickly and the knife law forum does not produce much traction.

Does anyone have a clear answer on if a folding knife can be carried in Washington. I already know what can't be carried but from the knife law reading I just did there's nothing solid about unassisted folding knives. Thank you in advance.

Like a lot of legal questions, the answer is "it depends." https://www.akti.org/state-knife-laws/washington/
 

Eliteone2383

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To be honest. I'm not sure of the specific knife laws here in Washington state but I have carried folders every day for the 10 years I have been here and never had a single issue. I live in the Seattle area so if it's never been a problem here, I highly doubt you would have any issues in other areas.
I have family I am going to be visiting and they live near Seattle so thats why I'm asking. I did read their knife laws but they are extremely vague.
 

Murphjd25

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I carry a Sebenza, traditional, and OTF every day here. Don’t give anyone a reason to stop you and ask to see your knife and you won’t have a problem.

But to answer your question...in the city limits of Seattle you can carry a folder as long as it’s under 3.5”. No fixed blades or autos of any kind.
 
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aleforme

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I carry a Sebenza, traditional, and OTF every day here. Don’t give anyone a reason to stop you and ask to see your knife and you won’t have a problem.

But to answer your question...in the city limits of Seattle you can carry a folder as long as it’s under 3.5”. No fixed blades or autos of any kind.

This^

Just carry it and you'll be fine. I would not even worry one bit about it.
 

Mako109

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But to answer your question...in the city limits of Seattle you can carry a folder as long as it’s under 3.5”. No fixed blades or autos of any kind.

Murphjd25 Murphjd25 said it all.

I also live in WA and will add this. About 13 years ago I rented storage space and kept a few things in there while having my home remodeled. One of the boxes contained a long forgotten OTS, a cheap made in Mexico tourist trinket that was gifted to me back in 1982. The storage locker was vandalized. The police eventually apprehended the perpetrators and one of them had the OTS on him when he was arrested. I was called into the police station to identify my property which was kept in several large boxes. After surveying the contents of the boxes I confirmed it was all mine. Everyone was friendly up to that point. Then one of the detectives reached in the box and pulled out the OTS, and his whole attitude towards me changed. They treated me as if I was a criminal. As I waited in the property recovery room (whatever they called it), I believe they were outside discussing the possibility of charging me. After a few minutes of discussion they let me go, but kept the knife for evidentiary purposes. That was a scary moment.

Long story short, I make sure to keep within the law.
 
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Eliteone2383

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Murphjd25 Murphjd25 said it all.

I also live in WA and will add this. About 13 years ago I rented storage space and kept a few things in there while having my home remodeled. In one of the boxes contained a long forgotten OTS, a cheap made in Mexico tourist trinket that was gifted to me back in 1982. The storage locker was vandalized. The police eventually apprehended the perpetrators and one of them had the OTS on him when he was arrested. I was called into the police station to identify my property which was kept in several large boxes. After surveying the contents of the boxes I confirmed it was all mine. Everyone was friendly up to that point. Then one of the detectives reached in the box and pulled out the OTS, and his whole attitude towards me changed. They treated me as if I was a criminal. As I waited in the property recovery room (whatever they called it), I believe they were outside discussing the possibility of charging me. After a few minutes of discussion they let me go, but kept the knife for evidentiary purposes. That was a scary moment.

Long story short, I make sure to keep within the law.
Wait so you can't even own certain blades even if you are not carrying it?
 

Mako109

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I'm not an expert on the subject, but according the stern lecture I received from the detective, mere "possession" of an automatic or butterfly knife is against the law. Possession does not mean you have to be carrying the knife. Again this was 13-15 years ago and I don't know if laws have changed since.

I don't buy OTF/OTS or butterfly knives so I don't waste time thinking about this subject. The internet experts can chime in here.
 
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Velitrius

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Don't carry a Balisong either.

I carry everything but a Balisong and an automatic. I held out hope for autos in the last couple of legislative sessions, but common sense didn't prevail.

Cops in this state are not to be trusted to know the law, and the law is vague enough that contact with LEO's can go completely sideways.

Funny that it's easier for me to carry a concealed 17 round handgun with a suppressor than it is for me to carry a ProTech Runt. :rolleyes:o_O
 

yamsi12

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Don't carry a Balisong either.
Cops in this state are not to be trusted to know the law, and the law is vague enough that contact with LEO's can go completely sideways.
:rolleyes:

This. Most cops are as much in the dark or misunderstanding/misinterpreting of knife laws as the average citizen is.
 
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Murphjd25 Murphjd25 said it all.

I also live in WA and will add this. About 13 years ago I rented storage space and kept a few things in there while having my home remodeled. One of the boxes contained a long forgotten OTS, a cheap made in Mexico tourist trinket that was gifted to me back in 1982. The storage locker was vandalized. The police eventually apprehended the perpetrators and one of them had the OTS on him when he was arrested. I was called into the police station to identify my property which was kept in several large boxes. After surveying the contents of the boxes I confirmed it was all mine. Everyone was friendly up to that point. Then one of the detectives reached in the box and pulled out the OTS, and his whole attitude towards me changed. They treated me as if I was a criminal. As I waited in the property recovery room (whatever they called it), I believe they were outside discussing the possibility of charging me. After a few minutes of discussion they let me go, but kept the knife for evidentiary purposes. That was a scary moment.

Long story short, I make sure to keep within the law.

Wait so you can't even own certain blades even if you are not carrying it?

I'm not an expert on the subject, but according the stern lecture I received from the detective, mere "possession" of an automatic or butterfly knife is against the law. Possession does not mean you have to be carrying the knife. Again this was 13-15 years ago and I don't know if laws have changed since.

I don't buy OTF/OTS or butterfly knives so I don't waste time thinking about this subject. The internet experts can chime in here.

The actual statute for Washington is:
9.41.250. Dangerous weapons--Penalty
(1) Every person who:
(a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any instrument or weapon of the kind usually known as slungshot, sand club, or metal knuckles, or spring blade knife;
(b) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol, or other dangerous weapon; or
(c) Uses any contrivance or device for suppressing the noise of any firearm unless the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law,​
is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(2) “Spring blade knife” means any knife, including a prototype, model, or other sample, with a blade that is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device, or any knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement. A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.​

"Possession" of a spring blade knife is a crime in Washington state (which is why KAI USA/Kershaw/ZT's Speedsafe assist has a bias toward close). In the case of a locked storage unit, there's a contract with Mako109 Mako109 's name on it, creating the presumption that anything in the storage unit is his. It's a variety of constructive possession, which you see a lot in the automobile search context. From what I can see, the statute was added in 1994, well after the knife came into his possession, and it was put into the storage unit at least a few years after the statute was passed. So, technically Mako was a naughty boy and had something he shouldn't've. They probably let it slide since it wasn't physically in his possession and they were keeping it anyway. Of anything, they most likely charged the guy who stole it with possession of a dangerous weapon...

As long as you don't have an auto, a dagger or a dirk, you're probably going to be just fine legally. If you're particularly worried, carry a SAK. And, as a general rule, avoid contact with police to the extent possible.

This. Most cops are as much in the dark or misunderstanding/misinterpreting of knife laws as the average citizen is.

As a former prosecutor, this is absolutely true...
 

Murphjd25

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7Psw5fE.jpg
 

Eliteone2383

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Ok.lets make this easier. I have the small sebenza, zt0450, spyderco caly 3.5, spyderco Domino on the way, and spyderco para 3. Of those choices which is the safest bet for carry in Washington. I will be right outside of Seattle and probably going to Seattle for sight seeing and what not.
 

Knives&Lint

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I personally would be perfectly comfortable carrying any of the ones you listed. I've lived in West Seattle for four years now and I carry whatever I want.

As for sight seeing in the city, it's been a while since I visited the Space Needle (or the city for that matter ;)), but last time I did security stopped me before the metal detector and asked what I had clipped in my pocket. I told them just a pocket knife. They asked how large, I said about 3-3.5 inches, and they sent me right through no problem. Since then, there was an unfortunate event where a dude actually murdered his estranged wife with a knife right there in the Center, so they might have tightened up in that area specifically. Even so, I remember an interview with a LEO on the local news shortly after asking what knives where legal to carry, and he stressed that they focus on "ill intent" rather than mere possession. That seems to be the general sentiment of law enforcement around here in my limited experience. Mind your own business, don't bother anybody (which I'm sure you won't), and you'll be fine IMO.

Also, while you're in the area, do yourself a favor and get out into the mountains a bit. That's the best thing about the Seattle area, the proximity to natural beauty.
 

Eliteone2383

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I personally would be perfectly comfortable carrying any of the ones you listed. I've lived in West Seattle for four years now and I carry whatever I want.

As for sight seeing in the city, it's been a while since I visited the Space Needle (or the city for that matter ;)), but last time I did security stopped me before the metal detector and asked what I had clipped in my pocket. I told them just a pocket knife. They asked how large, I said about 3-3.5 inches, and they sent me right through no problem. Since then, there was an unfortunate event where a dude actually murdered his estranged wife with a knife right there in the Center, so they might have tightened up in that area specifically. Even so, I remember an interview with a LEO on the local news shortly after asking what knives where legal to carry, and he stressed that they focus on "ill intent" rather than mere possession. That seems to be the general sentiment of law enforcement around here in my limited experience. Mind your own business, don't bother anybody (which I'm sure you won't), and you'll be fine IMO.

Also, while you're in the area, do yourself a favor and get out into the mountains a bit. That's the best thing about the Seattle area, the proximity to natural beauty.
Thank you all for your responses and yes the mountains sound like a good idea!
 
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While mere possession of an auto or OTF may be illegal in WA, it doesn’t stop people from taking the “it’s only illegal if I get caught” attitude wrt the law. Based on what I’ve read, some cops in WA will just confiscate people’s knives or let them off with a warning and tell them to take the knife home. It basically depends on whether or not the cop is having a good day.

As a side note, sometimes when laws are in conflict with one another, cops will use their discretion to enforce which one seems most reasonable. I’ve read that New Mexico’s knife laws are a bit contradictory. One statute words it as though auto knives are completely illegal to own, carry, buy and sell, while another statute on concealed weapons lists them as being okay to keep at home along with other knives (such as daggers, dirks, etc.). Seems most cops there are okay with letting people keep autos at home as long as they don’t carry them.
 
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Late response but for those who live here, are moving here, or will be visiting you need to look at the state law as posted above (the RCW) AND the laws of each city you will be in. Unlike firearms there is no preemption here. Each city is free to pass whatever knife restrictions it wants to.
Seattle bans folders with a blade over 3.5", and all fixed blade knives unless worn openly for work, hiking, or fishing. Or stored in a toolbox.
Tacoma has a 3.5 inch limit on any knives.
Everett and Yelm both have 3 inch limits.
Other cities will have their own restrictions or none at all.

Assisted openers are completely legal.

Automatics, no matter how they open are banned for almost everyone. The only exceptions are on-duty police (only full time, paid cops though, reserve don't count. The term is "general authority law enforcement officer," and the definition includes full time and fully compensated.), on duty military/NG, on duty EMTs, and on duty firefighters. Transport to and from where they are stored while not on duty is also ok.

There was this myth that you could have but not carry an automatic. Maybe the interpretation of the 1959 wording that says, "have in his possession."
 
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