Vermont’s knife laws are very brief and very permissive, allowing the possession and carrying of practically any knife or bladed implement except for switchblade knives with blades 3” long or longer. Intent is the main thing determining whether or not a knife is legal. A blade carried with intent to use it unlawfully against another person (generally proven, if case law precedent is fully reliable, by actual use to threaten or wound another individual) is illegal, while one carried for lawful reasons is legal.
As of 2015, a preemption bill has been introduced to the Vermont legislature, but in mid-year is still in committee. Since the bill contains text indicating it would become law on July 1st, 2015 if signed, it is unclear if the bill has actually expired or if a revised form might still be eligible for passage. Absent this bill, the state’s laws do not trump local ordinances, and various townships enforce knife rules stricter than the state knife laws.
Legality of Knife Possession
Only one law in Vermont, 13 VSA § 4013, actually outlaws possession of a specific kind of knife. This section outlaws owning, selling, or offering to sell a switchblade with a blade 3” long or longer within state lines, and enforces a $100 fine and/or 90 day jail sentence for violations of this law.
Beyond this ban, all kinds of knives are legal in the Green Mountain State. This includes, but is not limited to, balisong knives, Bowie knives, hunting knives, fishing knives, swords, daggers, dirks, stilettos, single-edged or double-edged fixed or folding blade knives of any length, machetes, throwing blades including knives and stars, and pocketknives.
Open carry is allowed everywhere the exception of state institutions (including, but not limited to, schools and courthouses) as well as their grounds, as described in 13 VSA § 4003. It is also illegal to carry a knife openly or concealed with the idea of injuring another human being with it. Other than these straightforward rules, both open and concealed carry of knives is fully legal in Vermont.
Knife Length Limit
Switchblades with blades less than 3” are the only automatic knives legal in Vermont. Other than this restriction, there are no knife length limits in Green Mountain State law.
Concealed Carry of Knives
Concealed carry of knives is illegal on the grounds or premises of state institutions such as courthouses, prisons, and schools. It is also illegal to conceal carry a knife for purposes of injuring or threatening another person. Other than these limits, all legal knives may be carried openly or concealed.
Other Knife Law Considerations in Vermont
Bill H.165, introduced in early 2015, attempts to establish a preemption clause in Vermont law regarding the legality of knives. Designed to revise Vermont statutes Title 24, Section § 2295 by adding “knife” or “knives” to the text at selected points, this bill aims to forbid local knife ordinances contrary to state law. As of August 2015, the bill – which was to enter law on July 1st, 2015 – remains in committee, under examination by the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife, and Water Resources. Its passage is uncertain and it may expire with no decision taken.
In the meantime, local knife ordinances remain in effect, complicating carrying and ownership for knife users. However, some municipalities have not enacted ordinances relating to knives in any way, such as Barre and Colchester. Generally, Vermont is a knife-friendly state even in the absence of a preemption law.
Resources and Further Reading