Simple, clear, and direct, the knife laws in the state of Georgia place no strictures at all on knife ownership while streamlining carrying law to one concept. Few restrictions and extremely simple, understandable bladed weapon legislation make this southeastern state a welcoming environment for knife ownership. The laws were freshly minted on July 1st, 2012, replacing more restrictive or complex rulings in place earlier.
Establishment of a preemption principle in Georgia’s state law was a key effect of Governor Nathan Deal signing SB 432 into law. The act declares that no political subdivision inside the state can pass an ordinance that restricts knife ownership or carrying rights more than the state law. All conflicting legislation was simultaneously repealed, creating a single rationalized system for handling knife law throughout the whole length and breadth of the Peach State.
Georgia’s law now frees individuals to own any knife they choose, and to carry any blade up to 5” long openly or concealed. Larger knives require a permit, but this is acquired readily on a “shall-issue” basis.
Legality of Knife Possession
Georgia places no legal limit on the type of knives or bladed implements that people can own within its boundaries. All kinds of knives are fully legal to own, carry in the owner’s house or on their private property, buy, sell, trade, collect, or display. This includes not only commonly legal knives like pocket knives, Bowie knives, hunting and fishing knives, single and double-edged blades, daggers, KA-BAR knives, serrated knives, swords, and machetes, but more exotic knives also.
The list of legal knives and blades in Georgia also encompasses switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, martial arts throwing stars, push knives, balisong knife types, disguised blades such as lipstick knives, and undetectable knives capable of passing through a metal detector without triggering it due to the material they are made from.
Any knife with a blade 5” long or shorter can be carried in public, either openly or concealed, without the need for a license. Those with blades longer than 5” require a weapons permit in order to be carried publicly. A Weapons Carry License is available to all residents 21 years old or older who undergo a criminal and mental health background check along with a $30 licensing fee and several smaller administrative fees. As laid down in O.C.G.A. § 16-11-129, convicted felons, fugitives from justice, drug offenders, and weapons offenders are likely ineligible for a license but can appeal through a special hearing process. A Weapons Carry License is valid for 5 years and is renewable.
Minors (individuals younger than 18 years old) cannot own or use a knife with a blade more than 5” in length. Selling or giving a minor a knife with this description is an aggravated misdemeanor under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-101.
Some restrictions on carrying weapons, including knives, are listed in Georgia Code Title 16, § 16-11-127. Weapons cannot be carried in government buildings, courthouses, places of worship, prisons, state mental health facilities, nuclear power plants, or with 150 feet of a polling place. Individuals also have the right to “exclude or eject” armed persons from their private property as they themselves choose.
Knife Length Limit
There is no legal limit on knife or blade length for simple ownership or carrying within the owner’s residence. In public, knives with blades up to 5” long are legal without a permit. Carrying a knife with a blade exceeding 5” in length requires a Weapons Carry License, which enables carrying of all types of legal weapons (knives, handguns, and so on).
Concealed Carry of Knives
Georgia law no longer distinguishes between open and concealed knife carry for legal purposes. The legality of carrying is wholly determined by blade length, not by the location of the knife on the owner’s person or its visibility to other people.
Other Knife Law Considerations in Georgia
Thanks to a clear, powerful preemption statute, knife owners living in or visiting Georgia need not be concerned with local ordinances governing blades. Knives legal at one place in Georgia are legal in every other township, municipality, and county within the state also. The easy-to-grasp carry law leaves knife owners in no doubt when they need a license and when they not, and the lack of distinction between open and concealed carry gives blade users flexible options when exercising their rights.
Resources and Further Reading