Most New England states are fairly well-known, some might say infamous, for their stringent laws governing the ownership and carry of weapons, and much of the time, knives are no exception. That is definitely the case in Connecticut compared to much of the South and Southwest, but it is not so draconian as you might have heard.
Connecticut does explicitly ban the carry of dirks and stilettos by type, and also the carrying of any knife with a 4 inch or longer blade. Switchblades too are predominantly a non-starter, since one may only carry such a knife if its blade is 1 1/2 inches or shorter.
The silver lining is that Connecticut’s laws are written in such a way that even a layman can easily understand them, but those people who travel from place to place often in the state will have to contend with often contradictory local laws, since Connecticut lacks any form of statewide preemption.
I’ll give you the rest of the facts just below.
What You Need to Know
- What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: Any kind of knife.
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Any knife except a dirk or stiletto; non-switchblade with a blade shorter than 4”; switchblade with a blade 1 ½” or shorter.
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Any knife except a dirk or stiletto; non-switchblade with a blade shorter than 4”; switchblade with a blade 1 ½” or shorter.
- Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Any knife except a dirk or stiletto; non-switchblade with a blade shorter than 4”; switchblade with a blade 1 ½” or shorter.
Connecticut does not specifically forbid the ownership of any particular kind of knife, but it does ban carrying on or about one’s person several kinds of knives.
Additionally, there are few provisions that will exempt one from the restriction on type or length of knife if carrying it on your person, specifically:
- being a police officer
- being a member of the armed forces when going about one’s official duties
- being in a military parade
- a merchant transporting otherwise legal goods for sale at a gun or knife show
- or if you are moving from one abode to another and just so happen to have the knife on your person.
You had better be able to prove that last one!
The only other exemptions are carrying an otherwise legal knife to be repaired or restored or back from service at such a location. Also allowed is if one is engaged in legal hunting, fishing or trapping, and has the appropriate licenses.
That’s pretty much it; if you own a type of knife that is otherwise legal to carry on or about your person, you are safe so long as it is only at your home barring you are engaged in any of the exempted activities above. The moment you carry it for any other purpose you are feloniously breaking the law.
Regarding blade length, take care to note that Connecticut defines blade length by the “edged portion” of the blade.
While this is mechanically distinct from the overall length of the blade itself, it would not do to make a test case of yourself by trying to carry a lengthy knife optimized for stabbing that was not sharpened.
Chances are the majority of field tests will be conducted by measuring the overall length of the blade from the point to where it contacts the handle. Don’t try to be clever with this one!
Concealed Carry, No Permit
Connecticut forbids a couple types of knives entirely, and places restrictions on blade lengths for the other types.
You may not carry any dirk or any stiletto of any kind or length; since the state lacks specific definitions for these types of knives it is assumed that they have the common definition.
You also may not carry any other kind of knife, folding or fixed blade, with a blade 4 inches or longer. Not longer than 4 inches; 4 inches or longer!
Switchblades are surprisingly okay, but their blades must be no longer than 1 1/2 inches. Of particular note is the specific verbiage in the Connecticut statutes that quantifies switchblades.
The exact wording of the text reads “any knife having an automatic spring release device by which a blade is released from the handle.”
Since there is no specific provision for assisted opening knives, nor any language that further clarifies or makes distinct an assisted opening knife compared to a switchblade, we must assume that assisted opening knives are included in the category of switchblade in the state of Connecticut.
Concealed Carry, With Permit
The state of Connecticut makes no distinction regarding its knife carry laws if one has a permit or not.
The state of Connecticut makes no distinction between concealed carry of knives and the open carry of knives; the operative clause “person who carries upon his or her person” applies whether or not one has a knife concealed or openly displayed, and also includes carrying a knife inside personal luggage like purses, satchels and backpacks.
Connecticut has a few prohibited places when it comes to the carry of knives, even pocket knives. Any public meeting, public hearing, school facility or legislature building is off-limits.
Also, one must be aware of any local laws governing the carry of knives into various places since Connecticut has no statewide preemption on the books, and that means you will have to learn and adhere to municipal and city laws no matter how varying they might be if you want to remain on the right side of the law.
As far as New England states go Connecticut is pretty good, but it is decidedly mediocre when it comes to knife laws in regards to the rest of the country.
A fairly oppressive restriction on blade length for switchblades and a significant restriction on blade length for all other knives along with the banning of anything that is classified as a dirk or stiletto means you will be dealing with some categorical limitations when it comes to selecting a carry knife in this state.
Important Connecticut State Statutes
As always, understanding of the law as written is critical. Ignorance is never an excuse. Below is a selection of the most important and most relevant CT knife statutes, but not all of them. Make sure you take the time to review and research all of them.
Section 53-206 – Carrying of dangerous weapons prohibited.
(a) Any person who carries upon his or her person any BB. gun, blackjack, metal or brass knuckles, or any dirk knife, or any switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which a blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches in length, or stiletto, or any knife the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or more in length, any police baton or nightstick, or any martial arts weapon or electronic defense weapon, as defined in section 53a-3, or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument, shall be guilty of a class E felony. Whenever any person is found guilty of a violation of this section, any weapon or other instrument within the provisions of this section, found upon the body of such person, shall be forfeited to the municipality wherein such person was apprehended, notwithstanding any failure of the judgment of conviction to expressly impose such forfeiture.
(b) The provisions of this section shall not apply to
(1) any officer charged with the preservation of the public peace while engaged in the pursuit of such officer’s official duties;
(2) the carrying of a baton or nightstick by a security guard while engaged in the pursuit of such guard’s official duties;
(3) the carrying of a knife, the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or more in length, by
(A) any member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined in section 27-103, or any reserve component thereof, or of the armed forces of the state, as defined in section 27-2, when on duty or going to or from duty,
(B) any member of any military organization when on parade or when going to or from any place of assembly,
(C) any person while transporting such knife as merchandise or for display at an authorized gun or knife show,
(D) any person who is found with any such knife concealed upon one’s person while lawfully removing such person’s household goods or effects from one place to another, or from one residence to another,
(E) any person while actually and peaceably engaged in carrying any such knife from such person’s place of abode or business to a place or person where or by whom such knife is to be repaired, or while actually and peaceably returning to such person’s place of abode or business with such knife after the same has been repaired,
(F) any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license issued pursuant to chapter 490 or any saltwater fisherman carrying such knife for lawful hunting, fishing or trapping activities, or
(G) any person while participating in an authorized historic reenactment;
(4) the carrying by any person enrolled in or currently attending, or an instructor at, a martial arts school of a martial arts weapon while in a class or at an authorized event or competition or while transporting such weapon to or from such class, event or competition;
(5) the carrying of a BB. gun by any person taking part in a supervised event or competition of the Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts of America or in any other authorized event or competition while taking part in such event or competition or while transporting such weapon to or from such event or competition; and
(6) the carrying of a BB. gun by any person upon such person’s own property or the property of another person provided such other person has authorized the carrying of such weapon on such property, and the transporting of such weapon to or from such property.