Are spring loaded knifes legal in California?

I really can't seem to find a clear answer on this. Is a spring loaded blade legal in California? None of this "spring assisted" crap. Is a blade that I push a button and it swings open to a 4 inch serrated blade legal? I'm intrested in buying the smith and Wesson rescue knife with a window punch and seatbelt cutter, because I'm a firefighter and intrested in a cheap nice looking knife for on the job. Does this knife simply flip open fast at the push of a button or is there some sort of saftety i push before I push the release? Thanks for answers!

2 Answers

  • <R>
    Lv 5
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    The best answer is: It depends. In California, Penal Code 17235 prohibits the carry of switchblades longer than two inches. Now the big question is, does a spring assist qualify as a switchblade?

    Before we get to that, I've watched a couple of videos of this knife in question. Here's one of them:

    Youtube thumbnail

    I also read a vigorous debate including a retired Northern California Police Sergeant here:

    In that, the Sergeant concluded that this knife was a switchblade under the law and therefore illegal. But others pointed out that the thumbstud was attached to the blade and when closed, wanted to stay closed which would make it legal. But when you touch the the thumbstud, it does appear that the spring is doing all the work however, its difficult to tell without actually doing it personally. I think the knife was designed to be as close to being technically legal as possible.

    Here's the point: The law is open to interpretation. But if you are a firefighter using this on duty, NO cop is going to hassle you about it. Even if you're off duty, its going to take a cop really wanting to nail you to the wall for something for this. If you were a criminal and you ended up getting searched, yeah, you probably would get the misdemeanor citation for it and have the knife taken away. But if you think it will help you do your job, I'm confident you would be just fine using it. Its so technically close to the law and is quite possibly legal that you have little to worry about. Now if you were carrying a full-on easily recognizable gangster switchblade, I'm sure someone would have something to say about it.

    And remember, that the law only prohibits the carry of switchblades in public. Nothing illegal about possessing even a full-on gangster switchblade in your home.

    EDIT: Wow, thanks to John for updating me on that. PC 653k is a lot easier to remember than 17235 and 21510 but one shouldn't question the infinite wisdom of the California Legislature.

    Source(s): UC Berkeley Legal Studies
  • John S
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Go ahead and give <R> best answer, but there are a couple of points. First, all the statutes relating to weapons changed number in 2012, and the regulation of switchblades is now found in three different statutes (go figure). The definition of switchblade is now found in Penal Code section 17235, and the prohibition upon carrying one is found in section 21510. Second, the prohibition is upon possessing a switchblade (with a blade over 2") in a motor vehicle in a public place, and upon carrying it on your person. There is no exception for carrying it at home. It is not illegal to possess it at home, so long as you do not carry it. (Yes, it is a stupid law.)

    ADD: <R> Not only is it annoying to have to try to learn new numbers for these offenses after 35 years, but the 2011 compact code was HUGE because it had to contain BOTH versions!

    Source(s): 35+ years as a criminal defense attorney
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