Knife Laws in Indiana

While Indiana is not a deliberately knife-friendly state in the manner of Alaska or Georgia, its knife laws are lax enough to enable wide freedom of possession and carrying for knife owners and blade enthusiasts. Most knife types are legal – including, unusually, switchblades and other automatic knives, though the generation-long ban on them was lifted only in 2013. These knives can be carried openly or concealed except for a few restricted locations such as courthouses and schools.

Some municipalities within the state maintain their own ordinances, which are generally more restrictive than the state law. South Bend and Westfield both impose a general ban on knife carrying within the confines of public parks, for example, while Merrillville outlaws concealed carry of all knives except folding ordinary pocket knives with blades 2” long or shorter. Most localities, however, see no need to supplement state law with their own ordinances on the subject.

Legality of Knife Possession

Indiana grants extensive possession and carry rights to knife owners, allowing most folding and fixed blade types. Disguised blades such as dipstick knives or knife-pens, folding knives, single-edged hunting knives, daggers, stilettos, poniards, Bowie knives, pocket knives, utility knives, and most other types can be owned and carried openly or concealed. These blades cannot be brought onto school property, however, unless used as tools in a school project; a knife can be left “secured” in a car on school premises, however, though the precise manner of securing it is not legally defined.

Brass knuckles are also legal in the state, meaning by extension that knives with finger rings also meet the requisites for legality.

One of Indiana’s most notable pieces of knife legislation in recent years is the passage of Public Law No. 289-2013 in 2013. Among other tweaks to the legal code, this legislation, signed by Governor Mike Pence, makes switchblades and other automatic knives legal again in Indiana. The ban on these knives lasted precisely 30 years following its enactment in 1983. It is now legal to own, carry, buy, sell, gift, display, and otherwise make full use of switchblades and other automatic knives.

The two main types of knife or bladed implement still fully illegal in Indiana are ballistic knives and so-called “Chinese” throwing stars. Section § 35-47-5-12 of the 2013 Indiana Code defines Chinese throwing stars as any knife-like weapon with blades set at different angles. Owning, buying, selling, and carrying out other actions related to these stars is a Class C Misdemeanor.

Knife Length Limit

Blade length is not considered in Indiana state knife law. Some localities place limits on blade length (along with other knife characteristics) for concealed carry. They may do this because the Hoosier State lacks a preemption rule. Knife owners are well-advised to check on the legal status of any knives they plan to carry in a specific community.

Concealed Carry of Knives

The State of Indiana makes no legal distinction between open and concealed carry of knives. All knives legal in the state may be carried either in plain sight or hidden on the owner’s person, with the exception of a handful of municipalities with ordinances forbidding concealed carry. These towns or cities typically allow ordinary pocket knives with short blades for concealed carry, however.

Other Knife Law Considerations in Indiana

Knife owners generally find their right to own and carry their chosen blades in Indiana to be respected by state law. Indiana stands out for permitting legal ownership of switchblades, acknowledging these knives are no more hazardous than most other types. A few municipalities still place additional restrictions on carrying switchblades, however, which may not apply to other knives, such as banning them from public parks.

Only Chinese throwing stars and ballistic knives are expressly outlawed in Indiana, leaving unmentioned “corner cases” such as balisongs and gravity knives probably legal by default.

Resources and Further Reading