Georgia Knife Laws: A Simple Cheat Sheet With All You Need To Know

Georgia knife laws
Georgia Knife Laws

Nicknamed The Peach State, Georgia is certainly a peach when it comes to protecting the rights of residents and out-of-state visitors that own and carry knives. The Georgia Constitution establishes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Georgia’s Constitution also gives legislators the right to “prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.”

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The power granted to Georgia to mold laws concerning the ownership of knives extends beyond constitutional issues. As the starting point for the world-renowned Appalachian Trail, Georgia represents one of the most popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Knives play an integral role in recreational activities such as camping, fishing, and hunting.

Overview of Georgia Knife Laws

In 2012, the Georgia legislature simplified state knife laws by enacting several statutes that created less regulation, as well as more uniform enforcement guidelines. The Peach State does not place restrictions on the ownership of knives. Unlike its neighbor Florida, Georgia does not ban ballistic knives. During the 2017 legislative session, Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that cleared up any confusion caused by previous legal language as it pertains to the carrying of certain concealed knives.

knife laws guide

The new 2017 law states “No person shall carry a weapon without a valid weapons carry license [except for certain exemptions that apply only to guns].” Georgia defines a weapon as a knife or handgun. The legal definition of a knife in The Peach State is “a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than five inches [now 12 inches] in length which is fastened to a handle.”

Here is the list of knives that Georgia residents and visitors can own:

  • Pocket Knives
  • Butterfly Knives
  • Machete
  • SwitchBlade
  • Dagger
  • Bowie Knives
  • Stilettos
  • Hidden Knives
  • Ballistic Knives

Also called self-propelled knives, ballistic knives represent knives that detach and eject from the handle to shoot out several yards. A lever or a trigger initiates the detachment of the blade from the handle. Some states outlaw ownership of ballistic knives, while states that allow self-propelled knives place concealed carry restrictions on the weapons.

Permitted Knife Length in Georgia

One of the biggest changes made by the landmark 2017 Georgia knife law involved increasing the maximum size allowed for knife blades. Before 2017, Georgia restricted knife blade size to no more than five inches. The new law more than doubled the permissible maximum knife blade length to 12 inches. Knife owners carrying knives 12 inches or shorter do not need to obtain a knife carrying license.

Georgia Knife Open Carry Law

With the increase in maximum blade length to 12 inches, Georgia residents and visitors can open carry a wide variety of knives. However, the 12-inch maximum limit prohibits the open carry of most swords, daggers, and stilettos. Knife ownership is protected for knives that reach more than 12 inches long, but you cannot carry knives that exceed the 12-inch maximum limit. The only exception to the open carry law is allowing Civil War reenactment actors to carry swords, daggers, and stilettos during live performances.

What are the Concealed Carry Restrictions in Georgia

Georgia law does not distinguish between the open and concealed carrying of knives. Any knife that includes a blade longer than 12 inches requires the owner to apply for a license, regardless if the license is for open or concealed carry. The lack of distinction between open and concealed carry in Georgia makes the state law unique among the knife laws passed my most other states in the country. Georgia open and concealed carry statutes make an exception for regulating knives on school grounds.

Miscellaneous Georgia Knife Statutes

Georgia prohibits any type of knife longer than two inches on public school grounds. Courts have defined school grounds to include student functions, transportation, and safety zones. Many states ban knives of any kind or size on public school property. In Georgia, minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to own or carry knives. Perhaps the most important change in the 2017 Georgia knife law concerns legal uniformity. Georgia law does not allow any other governing body to pass more restrictive knife laws than what the state legislature has already passed.

Georgia Knife Laws Future Predictions

The subtle tweaks made to Georgia knife laws in 2012 and the more significant changes implemented in 2017 makes it highly unlikely the Georgia legislature will address knife legal issues in the near future. The only question for residents and visitors concerns future court rulings on the legality of preventing county and municipal governments from passing more restrictive knife ownership and carrying laws.

None of the material in this article should be interpreted as legal advice.  I am not a lawyer.  Never take any action with legal consequences without first consulting with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.  This article should not be relied upon for making legal decisions.  This information is provided for scholarship and general information only.

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  1. I am so used to seeing people carry knives on their belts that I did not realize that is a right many other states do not allow. DH and I have only recently started carrying knives like that, more as a useful tool than as a possible weapon. It is also normal to see people open carry on a regular basis and no one freaks out over it.

    Thanks for the info on my own states laws.

    • Brenda – I carry two knives every day. Nice to know I don’t need a permit for either of them. Also nice in GA is that a business owner can’t keep you from carrying if they don’t know you’re carrying and can only ask you to leave if they find out. Further, public buildings have to have metal detectors to keep you from carrying in them (as I remember some of the subtle changes).

  2. So I guess I’d need a permit to carry a machete? Sounds dumb. Youtuber “Reallybigmonkey1” carries a machete all the time. Usually has a knife attached to it. Check out his channel, he’s very skilled in the bushcraft/camping area.

  3. Cliff in Douglasville

    I don’t usually carry a knife other than a folder clipped to my front pocket but I think it is a good idea to carry a sheath knife, hunting size just for utility purposes. I’m going to go through my collection and look for something that is not overly garish (like the bright green handled ones) that has a subdued sheath and start carrying that on my weak side since I carry strong side concealed hand gun. It’s a good backup, just in case, and you can’t overlook the utility of having a blade when you need it.

    • I try to carry at least one, if not two knives every day. One includes a window punch and seat belt cutter. The other is a Swiss Army knife with several tools. I have been amazed at how often I have a use for one or both knives.

      • Cliff in Douglasville

        GA Red I carry one of those orange plastic hammer tools in all the cars in the map pocket of the driver door. It has the window glass breaker and the blade to cut seatbelts. I think it is one of the handiest tools to ever come down the pike. I could also use it as an offensive tool if some irate driver wants to dance and I don’t think the deserve being shot but a slap with the pointy end of the hammer will sure slow someone down.
        Everyone I know got one of those in their stocking last Christmas.

  4. Years ago I heard butterfly knives were illegal. Yet people were selling them. So I emailed my county sheriff’s department. They said it was illegal to carry a butterfly knife. But not to own one. I always thought that was stupid. Where do they get the right to make you get a permit to do anything?