Illinois Knife Laws

Updated for 2021

Illinois is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, allowing you to experience plenty of natural beauty. During such outdoor adventures, one needs to be equipped with the proper gear in order to fulfill basic needs instantly, like peeling fruits or shredding tinder. 

Many people would prefer taking a knife along on such activities to help them meet their needs. However, it is essential you know about the knife laws in Illinois before you decide on what to carry. 

This guide will elaborate on the laws regarding carrying and possessing knives in Illinois and the state-imposed restrictions on certain knives.

What knives are Explicitly Illegal in Illinois

Under Illinois law, ballistic and switchblade knives are completely illegal. These knives cannot be manufactured, owned, sold, or in your possession while in the state of Illinois. 

It is illegal to manufacture or sell a switchblade knife unless the person involved in selling and manufacturing has a valid “Firearm Owner’s Identification Card”.

Knife Size Regulations in Illinois

In Illinois, it is illegal to carry a knife or blade longer than 3 inches, as any blade over 3 inches is considered a dangerous weapon. Doing so will subject you to charges under section 720 ILCS 5/21-6; unauthorized possession or storage of weapons. You can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. 

You require the permission of a chief security officer if you want to carry knives longer than 3 inches. Breaching the law can lead to imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $15,000.

Local Municipality Knife Laws in Illinois

Illinois does not have statewide preemption of local ordinances concerning the carry and possession of knives. Cities and counties in Illinois have the liberty to enforce restrictive ordinances as they see fit. For instance, the city of Chicago forbids the carrying of any knife with a blade length exceeding 2 ½ inches.

Pocket Knife Laws

Pocket knives smaller than 3 inches are legal to own and carry in Illinois. You can purchase, manufacture, and carry these knives wherever within the state.

However, if the blade length is more than three inches, these knives are prohibited to be carried on publicly funded properties. 

Fixed Blade Knife Laws 

Under Illinois law, there is no such restriction imposed on carrying fixed blade knives. They can be carried openly or concealed. But, it is illegal to carry a knife where the cover is opened automatically, and to carry a blade longer than 3 inches, on public property

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Karambits Legal in Illinois?

A switchblade karambit is illegal in Illinois under section 720 ILCS 5/24-1 (a) (1), which prohibits possession of any knife with a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or another device in the handle of the knife. 

However, a non-switchblade karambit may be legal under Illinois law, unless you have intentions to use it “unlawfully against another” as per section 720 ILSC 5/24-1 (a) (2).

Are Throwing Knives Legal in Illinois?

The Illinois state law forbids manufacture, sale, possession, or purchase of throwing knives and knives that open automatically by applying hand pressure to a button or spring on the knife.

Are Balisongs Legal in Illinois?

Balisongs are used as self-defense weapons and therefore are legal to own and carry in Illinois.

Are Swords Legal in Illinois?

Swords have a sharp and long blade and are often used for self-protection or game-like sword fighting. It is legal to own a sword in Illinois, but you need the permission of the peace officer of the state due to its blade longer than 3 inches.

Is it Legal to Carry a Knife on School Grounds or College Campuses?

According to section 24-1 (a) (9) of Illinois state law, it is illegal to carry any knife or blade on school grounds and other educational institutes. 

It is also illegal to carry a knife in school buses, government buildings, public transports, and courthouses. Anyone who violates the law can be punished by a fine of up to $700 and imprisonment for six months.

Can a Minor Carry a Knife in Illinois?

The minimum age to carry knives and blade is 21 years in Illinois. As per section 105 ILCS 5/10 22.6, the parents of a minor under 18 years will have to face the penalty of $600 if a minor is found carrying a knife or blade.

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