US Balisong (Butterfly Knife) Laws

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The information contained on this page (and the rest of this website) is not a substitute for the advice or opinion of a qualified and licensed attorney. The information is as accurate as I can make it while still being concise and easy to read, but all laws contain some amount of nuance. This site and it's editor assume no responsibility for the actions of anyone reading it or what legal consequences they may face as a result of those actions. Consider yourself warned.

Please also note that this is a living document that is constantly being updated as laws change. I may not have heard about a recent law passing and appreciate being informed via the contact page if you notice an item is out of date.

Balisong Laws of the United States

The following is a comprehensive compilation of the laws on balisongs (also called "butterfly knives") in the United States. The balisong is folding knife originating Philippines which has a distinctive splitting handle that encloses the blade from both sides when not in use. While they can be opened with two hands by careful rotation of the handle halves, they are primarily known in popular culture for the ability to "flip" them open and closed with one hand. Categorization of the balisong in an American legal context tends to be indirect and difficult, as very few if any laws use the words "balisong" or "butterfly knife." Rather, most regulations allude to the balisong with legal language regarding "centrifugal force," "flip of the wrist" or similar terminology describing the manner the knives can be opened, and this language often includes other unrelated knife types such as gravity knives. Because of this, portions of this chart may have to remain blank except where the law is known for certain.

Legend:
  • Private Ownership = Refers to the legality of merely owning a balisong kept exclusively in the home.
  • Sale = The legality of merchants and private citizens offering balisongs for sale or selling them. Usually includes any transfer of ownership, even gifts.
  • Open Carry = legality of carrying a balisong unconcealed and in plain view of others.
  • Concealed Carry = legality of carrying a balisong in a concealed manner on one's person (or most of the time, in a car).
State Private Ownership Sale Open Carry Concealed Carry Comments
US Federal Law Legal ? Legal Legal Yes
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland Legal Legal Legal Legal Considered "penknives" per case law
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas Legal Legal Legal Legal
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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