Knife Laws in South Carolina

The labyrinth of South Carolina knife laws was replaced by a highly knife-friendly legal structure in 2008 when a bill deleted certain passages from the concealed carry law and a few related laws. At a state level, the Palmetto State now offers some of the strongest support to knife rights to be found within the United States of America.

There are absolutely no restrictions on the varieties of knives that can be owned in South Carolina, while all legal knives can be open carried or carried concealed anywhere except the grounds of a school (where a 2” blade length limit still applies).

Refreshingly straightforward as these knife laws are, many more complexities and potential problems for knife carrying are introduced by the widespread presence of municipal and county knife ordinances contradicting the state’s knife-friendliness. As of 2015, a bill to extend South Carolina’s existing preemption laws for statutes relating to guns, firearms, and firearm components to knives also was introduced by Representatives Pitts, Hixon, and Thayer as H. 3115, but no legislative decision has yet been reached.

Legality of Knife Possession

South Carolina imposes no limitations on the possession of knives. This means that any private individual or company can possess, buy, sell, manufacture, modify, receive, or give away any kind of knife or implement with no legal repercussions. Folding pocket knives, clasp knives, single-edged or clip point knives such as Bowie knives, balisong knives, double-edged knives such as daggers and tactical knives, stilettos, dirks, push knives, machetes, swords, sword-canes, disguised knives such as a lipstick knife or a belt-buckle knife, throwing stars, throwing knives, switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, undetectable knives made out of advanced ceramics or other materials, and any other type are fully legal in the Palmetto State.

Every legal knife is completely eligible for open carry or concealed carry without state restrictions based on length, method of deployment, or any other consideration. The sole exception is the carrying of knives on school grounds. Section § 16-23-430 of South Carolina law classifies carrying a knife with a blade longer than 2” on school property as a Class F Felony punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. Law enforcement officers and people authorized to carry a knife by school officials are exempted from this rule.

Knife Length Limit

Other than the 2” blade length limit for knives carried on school property, South Carolina law does not limit the length of knives in any manner.

Concealed Carry of Knives

All legal knives, regardless of size, configuration, or method of blade deployment, can be carried concealed in South Carolina, with the exception carrying on school property, where the 2” blade length limit applies.

Other Knife Law Considerations in South Carolina

Without a knife preemption law yet in place, South Carolina’s extremely permissive and rights-oriented knife legislation is frequently baffled in its intent at the local level. Numerous municipalities and even some entire counties enforce ordinances which are as confining as those decreed by the state prior to 2008.

Many cities, such as Cayce, Charleston, Fountain Inn, Monck’s Corner, and others, impose a 3” blade length limit for carrying concealed, and some are even more restrictive. Until legislative change occurs, knife owners should exercise care while moving about the state with knives in their possession.

Resources and Further Reading