“Don’t Mess with Texas” is an appropriate slogan for a state that takes pride in protecting individual liberty. However, The Lone Star State lives up to its independent reputation when it comes to knife laws. According to Article 1, Section 23 of the Texas State Constitution, Texans enjoy a broadly interpreted right to bear arms that include knives. However, Article 1, Section 23 also grants the Texas legislature the legal right to regulate weapons to prevent violent crimes. The variation of federal Second Amendment rights has prompted numerous lawsuits challenging the legal validity of Texas constitutional law.
Overview of Texas Knife Laws
Texas laws place no restrictions on knife ownership. Part of the reason for the knife ownership friendly statute stems from clear wording in the Texas State Constitution. However, knife-friendly statutes also have gained momentum because of the commitment Texas lawmakers have made to preserve the vibrant recreation industry in the state. Knife laws in Texas often contain wording that focuses on the rights of outdoor enthusiasts such as angler and hunters.
Here is the list of knives Texas allows residents to own:
- Pocket Knives
- Butterfly Knives
- Ballistic Knives
- Misleading Knives
- Bowie Knives
- Switch Blades
Open and Concealed Carry Statutes
In response to the growing threat on Capitol Hill to regulate firearms, the State of Texas enacted several laws granting residents the right to open and conceal carry a wide variety of guns. The lenient open and concealed carry statutes for firearms eventually persuaded Texas legislators to apply the same open and concealed carry rights to knives. As of June of 2018, Texas does not place any restrictions on the open and concealed carrying of any style of knife, except in the special cases clearly outlined by other Texas knife laws.
Major Knife Law Changes in 2017
Texas legislators made several significant changes to state knife laws during the 2017 session. Lawmakers removed legal language that restricted specific knife designs. Formerly regulated knives like Bowie knives had all restrictions removed. Texas law also changed by increasing the blade maximum size allowed for “location specific” knives. With all the changes in favor of knife owners came one important strengthening of knife statutes in regards to minors under the age of 18 years. Texas law forbids minors from buying or selling most styles of knives, as well as open or conceal carrying knives in “location specific” venues.
Miscellaneous Texas Knife Laws
Before the sweeping changes made in 2017 to Texas knife laws, legislators addressed the lack of statewide preemption in 2015. In September of 2015, the Texas legislature passed a law that required counties and municipalities to comply with state knife laws. The result has been the removal of statutes that place additional restrictions on knife ownership at the local level than what the state has on the books.
Texas law also includes “location specific” knife carrying restrictions. Residents and visitors cannot carry knives on school property, which includes Texas colleges and universities. You cannot bring a concealed knife into a polling place or any judicial venue such as a courtroom. Knives are prohibited at airports and bus terminals. Businesses that generate more than 51% of sales from liquor must place a sign at the front entrance informing customers not to bring knives into the establishment. Knives are banned at sporting events in Texas and in places of worship.
Texas Knife Laws 2018 and Beyond
The state law passed in 2017 that allows adults to open carry knives measuring more than 5 1/2 inches has come under fire from law enforcement. Open carrying potential weapons such as swords and stilettos should be the focal point of hotly debated proposed laws in 2018 and beyond. The legal momentum that helped enact the recent open carry changes appears to remain strong on the Texas legislature. The thinking is the same open carry leniency for firearms should also apply to any type of knife. Although no bill has reached the Texas legislature floor that proposes regulating longer bladed knives, many legal experts expect a bill to come up for debate in 2019 that addresses the issue.
None of the material in this article should be interpreted as legal advice. I am not a lawyer. Never take any action with legal consequences without first consulting with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. This article should not be relied upon for making legal decisions. This information is provided for scholarship and general information only.