In September of 1776, Pennsylvania’s first Constitution was ratified. Today, aspects of the first article and the Preamble of that constitution are still in effect.

It reads like this: That the general, as well as the great and essential principles which are of liberty and of free government, may be recognized and seen as unalterably established. We Hereby Declare That:

1. Inherent rights of mankind

All men are born free and equal. All men are independent and have specific inherent and indefeasible rights including enjoying as well as defending life, liberty, acquiring, possessing and even protecting property and reputation and the right to pursue their own happiness.

This Constitution also allows that citizens have the right to bear arms and it shall not be questioned.

21. Right To Bear Arms

Citizens have the right to bear arms in defense for themselves, it shall not be a question of the State.

In historical context, This law in the Pennsylvania Constitution was slightly ratified just 3 months prior to the Conventional Army, which, under the command of George Washington who would cross the Delaware River going from Pennsylvania to New Jersey where they would overpower the forces of then King George II in Trenton. Just 15 years prior to the first of ten amendments, also referred to as the Bill of Rights for the US Constitution which was ratified 1791.

Pennsylvania law regulations in regards to knives are found on Title 18 and specifically § 908, which he also captioned as Prohibited And Offensive Weapons.

Perhaps by outlawing specific “offensive” weapons, the legislature for Pennsylvania meant to stay within specific limits to the State of the Constitution. The prohibited knife or edged weapons per Pennsylvania are those that are “daggers, knife, razors or any cutting instrument of which the blade is opened or exposed in any way that is automatic via a switch, a button that is pushed or any spring mechanism.”

(a) Offense defined: Any person who commits a misdemeanor in the first degree unless they are authorized by law, making repairs, selling or in any other way dealing in or using any of the above-mentioned weapons. (b) Exceptions: (1) It’s a defense per this section for any defendant to prove, beyond a preponderance of the evidence. that he or she possessed or dealt with said weapons as a curator or in any dramatic performance excepting a bomb, a grenade or incendiary device. Anyone who complied with the National Firearms Act (26 USC § 5801 et seq.) Or if they were briefly in possession of it as having found it or taken it from an aggressive person under specific negative or intentionally negative circumstances or in the event that it may have been used unlawfully.

In the construction of the constitution, there are many sentences in question. Sentences such as “blade of which is exposed automatically” are often modified and qualify as daggers, knives, razors and any instrument that can cut.

Per The Superior Court Of Pennsylvania, in intermediate appellate court, a knife that must be opened to be exposed or that which is opened via a “flick of the wrist” doesn’t come within the prohibition. In Commonwealth Vs. Ashford, 397 A.2d 420 of 1979, it was predating the 2009 Amendment to the Specific Federal Switchblade Act and also to “bias toward closure” which wording was adopted in the Federal Statute and by the number of states in which the “assisted opening” laws are viewed.


This same prohibition, in regards to the possession of any offensive weapons, also applies to sales and transfers therein. This also includes captioned sales or lease of such weapons and explosives.

Provided therein § 6302.

Any sales or leasing of such weapons and explosives (a) defined offense: anyone who is guilty of misdemeanors in the first degree should they sell, trade or transfer any such weapon to anyone who is under the age of 18. This includes cartridges and gunpowder as well as other dangerous substances.

In Pennsylvania Superior Court, it’s held that even a “penknife” that has a three-inch blade, is a “deadly” weapon for reasons of the statute. Thus, for all practical purposes, sales or any transfers to minors, “deadly weapons” are much more restrictive than previous categories.

Concealed Weapons/Carrying

Concealed weapons aren’t a factor. There aren’t any restrictions regarding knives or concealing or unconcealed such items.

Critical Dimensions:

None known

Statewide Preemption:



All weapons are prohibited on school property per 18.PA. C.S.A.§ 912.

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.