Georgia State Knife Laws


In recent years George’s knife laws have benefited from fairly significant revision, increasing the length of knives that citizens are legally able to carry concealed as well as incorporating statewide preemption laws that make it much easier to travel with a knife from place to place without running afoul of local laws.

Georgia has always been generally knife friendly, and has only gotten better since the legislation has been revised.

flag of Georgia

Unfortunately, Georgia state statutes are not the clearest and easiest to understand for those who are not already savvy when it comes to reading legalese. In fact, if you don’t pay attention some of them can appear downright contradictory.

Despite this, you’re good to carry pretty much anything you want when it comes to knives and you are in the state of Georgia. We will dig into all the details, and help you make sense of the confusing bits just below.

What You Need to Know

  • What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: No specifically banned knives; any kind of knife legal to own.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Yes, any knife with a blade 12” or shorter.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Yes, including knives with blades longer than 12”.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Yes; shorter than 12” with no permit, or any length with a permit.

General Ownership

You can own any kind of knife you please in the state of Georgia. In this case, any kind of knife means any kind of knife. Knives that are restricted or even banned outright by type or category and other states are all fair game in Georgia.

Daggers, dirks, stilettos, machetes, switchblades, ballistic knives, butterfly knives, belt knives, hidden knives, pocket knives, boot knives and more are all absolutely legal.

Several types of knives included in that list, specifically automatic and ballistic knives, are only governed by the same blade length restriction natal other knives endure.

The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed according to the state constitution of Georgia, and this is one case where they, happily, took that seriously.

Prior to the revision of the state statutes governing knives there was a blade length restriction in place, formerly a modest 5 inches. Since the revisions, the blade length is capped at 12 inches in length, (not a “knife”) if one has a concealed weapons permit, but any blade longer than 12 inches in length (a “knife”) may be carried if one has a permit.

This bears some explanation, as the wording in conjunction with Georgia’s definitions makes interpretation a little slippery. This will be explained in the following sections.

Concealed Carry, No Permit

Generally, lacking a permit Georgia allows you to carry any cutting instrument that is not a weapon on or about your person, openly or concealed, anywhere you lawfully, legally have a right to be.

But Georgia defines knives as weapons, so that means you are out of luck, right? Not exactly: Georgia defines “knife”, a weapon, as a cutting instrument that is designed for offensive or defensive purposes with a blade longer than 12 inches.

Any knife therefore, with a blade shorter than 12” is not a knife, and therefore not a weapon.

Stated more succinctly, so long as your knife has a blade shorter than 12 inches you may carry it openly or concealed pretty much anywhere you want, including in your vehicle.

I would advise you not to pay much mind regarding your selection of blade to the criteria of offensive or defensive, since that is far too vague to reasonably determine with any accuracy and will likely be decided by a judge and or a jury should you ever have your day in court. If you keep the blade beneath 12 inches, however, you should be in the clear.

As long as you are at your home or other property, you make carry any kind of knife you want without a permit, but if you are going anywhere else, and lack a permit, you should only carry a knife with a blade shorter than 12 inches.

Concealed Carry, With Permit

The laws concerning concealed carry of knives do not change much when one obtains a concealed weapons permit or already has a permit that is valid in the state: You’ll be able to carry knives with blades longer than 12 inches in length legally anywhere that you may lawfully go, if you choose.

As always, I recommend you bias your knife selection on the side of being a little shorter than necessary to meet the minimum requirement, as depending upon the instrument or methodology used to measure the blade length you might need that half inch of wiggle room to pass inspection!

Open Carry

The open carry of any kind of knife is legal in Georgia so long as one follows the appropriate prohibition on blade length, again the determining factor being whether or not one has a concealed weapons permit.

Lacking a permit, one must carry a knife openly with a blade that is shorter than 12 in. Once you have a concealed weapons permit, you may carry any knife, including one with a blade longer than 12 inches.

Prohibited Places

You may not carry a weapon, including knives and cutting instruments, onto any school property or school grounds or onto the property of any government Institution. There are exceptions made for cutting instruments with blades measuring less than 2 in.

Despite this, you would be wise to avoid carrying any kind of knife into any restricted place in order to avoid an unfortunate misunderstanding.

It is also worth mentioning that the law specifically allows any adult to pick up their child or legal dependent from a school or school zone so long as the weapon stays inside the vehicle, whether or not the adult that owns the weapon stays inside the vehicle. This applies so long as said carrier is in possession of a valid concealed weapons permit!

Assessment

Georgia has always been a knife friendly state, and it is even friendlier since recent revisions of the law. Though some of the statutes are confusingly worded and you really have to pay attention to the definitions of knife, weapon and cutting instrument the law is remarkably clear on this matter.

You can carry any kind of knife you want that is under a foot in length, openly or concealed without a permit in the state.

Important Georgia State Statutes

Ignorance of the law is never an excuse for breaking it. You can read the most relevant GA state statutes concerning knives and the carry thereof below.

Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-11-125.1

(2) “Knife” means a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than 12 inches in length which is fastened to a handle.

(3) “License holder” means a person who holds a valid weapons carry license.

(5) “Weapon” means a knife or handgun.

(6) “Weapons carry license” or “license” means a license issued pursuant to Code Section 16-11-129.

§ 16-11-126 – Possession and carrying a concealed weapon; penalty for violating licensing requirement

(a) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun may have or carry on his or her person a weapon or long gun on his or her property or inside his or her home, motor vehicle, or place of business without a valid weapons carry license.

(d) Any person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a handgun or long gun who is eligible for a weapons carry license may transport a handgun or long gun in any private passenger motor vehicle; provided, however, that private property owners or persons in legal control of property through a lease, rental agreement, licensing agreement, contract, or any other agreement to control access to such property shall have the right to forbid possession of a weapon or long gun on their property, except as provided in Code Section 16-11-135.

(e) Any person licensed to carry a handgun or weapon in any other state whose laws recognize and give effect to a license issued pursuant to this part shall be authorized to carry a weapon in this state, but only while the licensee is not a resident of this state; provided, however, that such licensee shall carry the weapon in compliance with the laws of this state.

(g) Notwithstanding Code Sections 12-3-10, 27-3-1.1, 27-3-6, and 16-12-122 through 16-12-127, any person with a valid weapons carry license may carry a weapon in all parks, historic sites, or recreational areas, as such term is defined in Code Section 12-3-10, including all publicly owned buildings located in such parks, historic sites, and recreational areas, in wildlife management areas, and on public transportation; provided, however, that a person shall not carry a handgun into a place where it is prohibited by federal law.

(h) (1) No person shall carry a weapon without a valid weapons carry license unless he or she meets one of the exceptions to having such license as provided in subsections (a) through (g) of this Code section.

(2) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon without a license when he or she violates the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

Section 16-11-136. Restrictions on possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of knives

(a) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) “Courthouse” shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 16-11-127.

(2) “Government building” shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 16-11-127.

(3) “Knife” means any cutting instrument with a blade and shall include, without limitation, a knife as such term is defined in Code Section 16-11-125.1.

(b) Except for restrictions in courthouses and government buildings, no county, municipality, or consolidated government shall, by rule or ordinance, constrain the possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of a knife more restrictively than the provisions of this part.

16-11-127.1. Carrying weapons within school safety zones, at school functions, or on school property

(a) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) “School safety zone” means in or on any real property owned by or leased to any public or private elementary school, secondary school, or school board and used for elementary or secondary education and in or on the campus of any public or private technical school, vocational school, college, university, or institution of postsecondary education.

(2) “Weapon” means and includes any pistol, revolver, or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind, or any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of two or more inches, straight-edge razor, razor blade (…)

(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to:

(7) A person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10, when such person carries or picks up a student at a school building, school function, or school property or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the school or a person who is licensed in accordance with Code Section 16-11-129 or issued a permit pursuant to Code Section 43-38-10 when he or she has any weapon legally kept within a vehicle when such vehicle is parked at such school property or is in transit through a designated school zone;

(8) A weapon possessed by a license holder which is under the possessor’s control in a motor vehicle or which is in a locked compartment of a motor vehicle or one which is in a locked container in or a locked firearms rack which is on a motor vehicle which is being used by an adult over 21 years of age to bring to or pick up a student at a school building, school function, or school property or on a bus or other transportation furnished by the school, or when such vehicle is used to transport someone to an activity being conducted on school property which has been authorized by a duly authorized official of the school; provided, however, that this exception shall not apply to a student attending such school;


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