Illinois Knife Laws

Updated for 2023

Illinois, known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, also has specific laws governing the use and carry of knives. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Illinois knife laws, incorporating recent legal decisions, statutory references, and practical advice for knife enthusiasts and everyday citizens.

Key Statutes and Legal Interpretations

Illinois knife laws are primarily governed by the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), with several key sections relevant to knife ownership and carry:

  • 720 ILCS 5/24-1: Prohibits the possession, manufacture, and sale of switchblades and ballistic knives.
  • 720 ILCS 5/21-6: Defines unauthorized possession or storage of weapons, including knives with blades longer than 3 inches.
  • 720 ILCS 5/24-1 (a) (1): Outlines the illegality of switchblade karambits.
  • 720 ILCS 5/24-1 (a) (2): Addresses the use of knives “unlawfully against another.”
  • 105 ILCS 5/10-22.6: Pertains to the carrying of knives by minors and the associated penalties for guardians.

Recent legal cases that have influenced the interpretation of these statutes include:

Local Municipality Knife Laws

In Illinois, local municipalities have the authority to enact more restrictive knife laws. For example:

  • Chicago Municipal Code: Prohibits carrying any knife with a blade length exceeding 2 ½ inches.

Practical Information on Knife Carry

  • Pocket Knives: Legal to own and carry if the blade is smaller than 3 inches.
  • Fixed Blade Knives: Can be carried openly or concealed, but restrictions apply to blades longer than 3 inches on public property.


Q: What are the legal implications of carrying a switchblade karambit in Illinois?

A: Under 720 ILCS 5/24-1 (a) (1), switchblade karambits are illegal in Illinois. Non-switchblade karambits may be legal unless used unlawfully against another.

Q: Are there any exceptions to the prohibition of knives on school grounds?

A: Illinois law strictly prohibits carrying any knife or blade on school grounds, including pocket knives, with no exceptions.

Q: What are the penalties for minors carrying knives in Illinois?

A: As per 105 ILCS 5/10-22.6, guardians of minors under 18 found carrying a knife may face a penalty of $600.

Conclusion and Legal Compliance

Illinois knife laws balance the rights of individuals with public safety concerns. The statutes and cases mentioned provide a framework for understanding these laws, but as legal interpretations can evolve, it is crucial to stay informed of any changes. Always verify the current laws and consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance and to understand the implications of carrying a knife in Illinois.

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