Knife Laws in New Hampshire

The Granite State’s motto of “Live Free or Die” found partial expression in a sweeping expansion of knife rights in 2010. Following massive bipartisan support for the measure in the state house and senate, Governor John Lynch affixed his signature on May 18th, 2010. Since that date, it has been legal to own any kind of knife or blade and to carry it openly or concealed. The only restrictions apply to convicted felons, who may not possess or carry certain kinds of knives.

Furthermore, the chessboard of differing local ordinances that complicated knife ownership previously was fully abolished by the bill. New Hampshire state law now preempts all local laws related to knives, and any local ordinances conflicting with the extremely broad knife rights granted by the state are automatically invalid.

Legality of Knife Possession

Anyone who is not a convicted felon can own, buy, sell, make, manufacture, give away, or receive as a gift any kind of knife or blade. Gravity knives, switchblades, balisong knives, machetes, swords, Bowie knives, daggers, dirks, martial arts throwing stars or shuriken, throwing knives, clasp knives, ballistic knives, and every other variety are allowed without restriction. The continued ban on metal knuckles (otherwise known as brass knuckles) still prevents ownership or carrying of knives with metal finger rings, however.

Title XII of New Hampshire law, “Public Safety and Welfare,” section § 159:3, which makes it illegal for those convicted of a felony drug offense or a felony against another individual’s property or person to own or carry a stiletto, dirk, dagger, switchblade knife, or other knife considered legally to be deadly weapon. This is the state’s sole restriction on ownership rights.

Any kind of knife that is legal to own is also legal to carry openly in any location, with the exception of schools, school grounds, and a few other government buildings. As noted below, there is also no limit to concealed carry of knives.

Knife Length Limit

New Hampshire law imposes no limit on the length of knife blades under any circumstances where it is legal to carry or own a knife (that is, most circumstances).

Concealed Carry of Knives

State Bill 1665-FN of the 2010 Session makes concealed carry of any knife or blade fully legal, except on school property and a few exempted government buildings. There is no limit on the length of knives that may be carried in this fashion, nor any restriction on the number of edges or their construction. Sword canes are legal, and swords or machetes can be carried concealed if desired.

Other Knife Law Considerations in New Hampshire

With all local ordinances against knives abolished permanently, knife owners need not worry about violating the law as they travel from town to town in New Hampshire. The Granite State represents the highest possible peak of knife rights that retains any legal framework whatsoever and is the knife-friendliest state in the United States.

Resources and Further Reading