It is recognized by the Florida State Constitution that its people have the individual right to keep and bear arms in order to defend themselves.

a) The right of individuals to keep and bear arms to defend themselves and the state’s lawful authority shall not be infringed, with the exception that the law may regulate the manner of bearing arms.

F.S.A. Constitution Article 1 Section 8

It is provided by the Florida Constitution that law may regulate the manner of bearing arms. This area of Florida statutory law is mainly found within Chapter 790, which is entitled Weapons and Firearms.


Since 1985 Florida law has banned self-propelled or ballistic knives. Ballistic knives are the only laws regulating the purchase, sale or manufacture of knives.

In 2003, concerned knife owners, the Florida Cutlery Association and the American Knife & Tool Institute combined efforts successfully petitioned the Florida Legislature to get a bill passed, which defined what a “ballistic knife” was a knife where the blade is a type of projectile that separates physically from the device. The following statute codified the legislation:

(1) It is unlawful for any individual to use, possess, own, sell, display or manufacture a self-propelled ballistic knife. This is a device where a knife-like blade is propelled as a projectile and separates the blade physically from the device via compressed gas, elastic material or a coil spring. A self-propelled ballistic knife is considered to be a contraband item and deadly or dangerous weapons. It is subject to seizure and will be disposed of according to Article 790.08(1) and (6).

Title XLVI, F.S.A. Article 790.225

It was necessary to have this clarification due to an unfortunate 2000 Court of Appeals ruling, where automatic knives and illegal ballistic knives were conflated by the courts, that effectively declared that all automatic knives were illegal.


As previously noted above, selling any ballistic knife is unlawful. It is further provided by Florida law that no weapons, except for ordinary pocket knives, can be sold to any individual under 18 years old, without permissions of a guardian or parent.

(1) An individual who gives, transfers, lends, barters or sells to any minor individual under 18 years old, any device, electric weapon, dirk or any other weapon except for a regular pocket knife, without getting permission of the minor’s guardian or parent, or gives, transfers, lends, barters, hires or sells to any individual of unsound mind an electronic device, weapon or any other dangerous weapon, except for a regular pocket knife, will be committing a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable via s. 775.083 or s. 775.082.

(2)(a) An individual may not willfully or knowing transfer or sell a firearm to a minor who is less than 18 years old, except an individual may transfer a firearm’s ownership to a minor with permission from the guardian or parent of the minor. An individual who violates this paragraph is committing a felony of the third degree and is punished according to s. 775-084, s. 775.083 or s. 775.082.

(b) The guardian or parent must maintain possession of the firearm with exception of s. 790.22

Title XLVI, F.S.A. Article 790.17


Open carry of all knives (with the exception of ballistic) is legal. It is provided by Florida law that concealed weapons cannot be carried.

F.S.A. Article 790.01. A weapon is defined in the following way for Florida state law purposes:

(13) “weapon” may mean any chemical device or weapon, tear gas gun, billie, slungshot, metallic knuckles, knife, dirk or any other deadly weapon with the exception of a blunt-bladed table knife, plastic knife, common pocketknife or firearm.

The law does not define the term “common pocketknife.” However, some guidance is provided by certain judicial decisions, although the line of demarcation is indistinct between an unusual or uncommon pocketknife and a common pocketknife. This is the question for a judge in a non-jury trial or jury to decide.

A common pocketknife, in general, is a kind of knife that in the community occurs frequently, which has a blade folded into the handle and may be carried in a pocket. The features that are not included on a common pocketknife do not include combat-style grip, large metal hilt guard or combat-style grip. In addition, it does not include a double-edged blade or switchblade. K.H. v. the State of Florida, 29 So. 3d 426 (2010).

In particular under Florida in Section 790.06, provides that an individual might be licensed for carrying concealed firearms or concealed weapons. In the section is also lists many locations where a licensed individual cannot carry a weapon. These locations include any school, including secondary and elementary schools in addition to colleges. There is an exception for universities and colleges if the licensee is a faculty member, employee or registered student. Other prohibited locations include establishments that are licensed for dispensing alcoholic beverages for human consumption.

Critical Dimensions:

Due to unclear or conflicting decisions from the Florida courts, it should be presumed by knife owners that a common pocketknife’s maximum blade length is four inches.

Statewide Preemption:
Yes, only when licensed under F.S.A. Article 790.06(15)

Article 790.25, which pertains to lawful use, possession and ownership of firearms as well as other weapons, allows individuals 18 years or older to have a concealed firearm or another weapon in their possession for self-defense or another lawful purpose inside a private conveyance’s interior, without a license, as long as the weapon is encased securely or not readily accessible otherwise for immediate use. The act supersedes any conflicting regulation, ordinance or law.


Weapons cannot be possessed on school grounds. That applies to individuals who hold a license under F.S.A. Article 790.06.

Licensed To Carry:

Yes. Knives are listed specifically licensed as weapons. They can be carried concealed by an individual authorized under F.S.A., Article 790.06 with a license for carrying concealed firearms or weapons.

In the section, there are numerous locations listed where a licensed individual might not carry a weapon. These locations include any school, which include secondary and elementary schools, in addition to colleges. There is an exception for universities and colleges if the licensee is a faculty member, employee or registered student. Establishments that are licensed for dispensing alcoholic beverages for human consumption are prohibited locations as well.

This information that is presented as a brief description of the laws and not as any kind of legal advice. aStraightArrow will not and cannot be a legal service provider. The use of the site does not create any sort of client/lawyer relationship. The knife laws are interpreted differently by prosecuting attorneys, enforcement officers, and judges. aStraightArrow suggests you consult legal counsel for further guidance.