Iowa Knife Laws

Updated for 2021

Iowa is a knife-friendly state with lenient and relaxed knife laws. You can carry any type of knife openly within the state. However, some regulations do apply to concealed carry and blade length of the knife.

It is imperative to be aware of the knife laws in Iowa in to avoid any inconvenience in the future. This article will take you through the knife laws in Iowa and different rules and regulations imposed on carrying specific types of knives.

What Knives are Explicitly Illegal in Iowa

Ballistic knives are unlawful in Iowa. The law of Iowa classifies these knives as an “offensive weapon” and therefore forbids their use. It is a felony to own and carry a ballistic knife. 

It is also illegal to conceal carry switchblades, balisongs, cane swords, lipstick knives, daggers, or stiletto. You may only conceal carry a “dangerous weapon” with a valid license.

Knife Size Regulations in Iowa

In Iowa, any knife with a blade longer than 5 inches is considered a “dangerous weapon”. Thus, it is illegal to carry any knife with a blade length exceeding 5 inches. 

Local Municipality Knife Laws in Iowa

Iowa lacks statewide preemption laws which means that the cities within the state may have their own regulations governing the carrying of knives. 

Larger cities may have more stringent laws compared to state laws. It is important to be familiar with the local laws if you are traveling within the state to keep you out of any trouble.

Ballistic Knife Ban

The ballistic knife falls under the category of “Offensive Weapons” as described in section 724.1 of Iowa law. It is a knife with a detachable blade, which is propelled by a spring mechanism, elastic material, or compressed gas. 

Under section 724.3, any unauthorized person who knowingly possesses an offensive weapon is guilty of a Class D felony. You may face imprisonment for one year or pay a fine of up to $11,000. 

Concealed Carry Knife Law

Section 724.4 of Iowa law covers the lawful and unlawful carrying of concealed knives. The law does not differentiate between folding and fixed blades. As long as the blade length is 5 inches long or shorter, it is legal to carry any knife concealed.

If you carry a knife having a blade length of more than 5 inches, it is considered a serious misdemeanor and may lead to a strict penalty. 

However, section 724.4.3.h provides an exception to the length rule. It allows conceal carrying of any knife if it is a requirement of a profession like hunting or fishing. However, the person carrying the knife must have a valid hunting or fishing license.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Karambits Legal in Iowa?

Karambits are legal in Iowa. Apart from a ballistic knife, you may open carry any knife. However, limits apply to conceal carry of knives.

Are Throwing Knives Legal in Iowa?

Throwing knives are legal to own and carry in Iowa. But, restrictions apply to conceal carry of knives with a blade longer than 5 inches.

Are Balisongs Legal in Iowa?

Balisong, or butterfly knife, is often used as a weapon for self-defense. It is legal to use a Balisong knife in Iowa, however, the law prohibits concealed carry of a Balisong knife.

Are Swords Legal in Iowa?

The Iowa law allows the possession of swords within the state. But, it is illegal to conceal carry any knife with a blade longer than 5 inches.

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

As per section 724.4 of Iowa knife law, it is illegal to carry blades, knives, and other dangerous weapons in schools. In case of an emergency, you must have permission from the state’s peace officer to carry a knife in school or educational institute. 

Other restricted places under Iowa law include airports, government buildings, private properties, and public vehicles. Anyone who violates the law and possesses a dangerous weapon in restricted places will have to pay a $3000 penalty or face imprisonment for six months.

Can a Minor Carry a Knife in Iowa?

Under Iowa law, it is illegal to carry knives with blades longer than 5 inches and considered dangerous weapons without a valid permit. To obtain a permit for carrying weapons in Iowa, you should be at least 21 years old. 

A minor under 18 years requires the parent’s consent to carry a weapon. Anyone who breaches the law commits a Class D felony.

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