It is not surprising that Indiana is touted as one of the best states for knife enthusiasts to live. Unlike most states, switchblades are legal to own and carry in the Hoosier State. However, like many states, Indiana recently overturned a knife ban that began in the 1950s.
The historic ban on switchblades arguably began in 1954 when Representative James Delaney of New York authored the first bill submitted to Congress banning the sale of switchblades.
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However, Indiana followed many other states and in 2013 repealed this ban. While some view this as a victory, it is worth noting that Indiana does not have state law pre-emption. Given that some municipalities have more restrictive limits on concealed carry, an understanding of Indiana state law is paramount.
Overview of Indiana Knife Laws
While ballistic knives and throwing stars are illegal in Indiana, many other types of knives are legal. The length of the blade is not discussed in Indiana’s state knife laws. Additionally, there is no state law preemption in Indiana. Therefore, knife owners should be cognizant of the legality of their knives while traveling to certain locations within the state.
Knives on School Grounds
Indiana specifically codifies possession of a knife on school grounds as either a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. The relevant law defines a knife as consisting of a sharp-edged or sharp-pointed blade capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds and, additionally, as an instrument that is intended to be used as a weapon.[i]
The statute specifically notes that daggers, dirks, poniard, stilettos, switchblades and gravity knives are included in his definition. By specifying the types of knives at issue, it appears that the legislature is aiming for a full ban on these types of knives on school grounds, regardless of their intended use.
Further, “a person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally possesses a knife on: (1) school property; (2) a school bus; or (3) a special purpose bus commits a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the person has a previous unrelated conviction under this section and a Level 6 felony if the offense results in bodily injury to another person.”[ii]
Permitted Knives in Indiana
The following knives are legal to own and carry, either openly or concealed:
- Disguised blades such as dipstick knives or knife-pens,
- Folding knives,
- Single-edged hunting knives
- Bowie knives
- Pocket knives
- Utility knives
- Brass knuckles are also legal in Indiana.
Restrictions on Knife Ownership in Indiana
Ballistic knives and throwing stars are still illegal to own in Indiana. The pertinent law relating to throwing stars states that owning, buying, selling or carrying “any knife-like weapon with blades set at different angles” is a Class C misdemeanor.[iii]
The restriction on ballistic knives is incredibly broad. Notably, Indiana does not simply limit ownership of ballistic knives. The relevant law on ballistic knives reads as follows: “It is a Class B misdemeanor for a person to manufacture, possess, display, offer, sell, lend, give away, or purchase any knife with a detachable blade that may be ejected from the handle as a projectile by means of gas, a spring, or any other device contained in the handle of the knife.”[iv] (emphasis added)
Indiana Knife Laws Moving Forward
Given that there is no state preemption law, knife owners should weary about carrying either open or concealed in government buildings, school grounds or public parks. From a review of the state’s legislative docket, there is no indication that there will be changes to the knife laws in the future. For now, knife owners in Indiana can rest assured that they live in own of the most straightforward states.
[i] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-5-2.5 (Effective July 1, 2013)
[ii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-5-2.5 (Effective July 1, 2013)
[iv] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 35-47-5-2 (Effective July 1, 2013)
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.