When you take a look at the knife regulations of Delaware, you quickly come to realize that there's nothing united about the United States of America, not at least when it comes to knives. Every state in this country has its own laws and they swing wildly from one extreme to another. From extreme zero knife restrictions with 'stand your ground' law to zero tolerance on automatic knives, they're all here baked inside one good old cowboy country. In Delaware, it's somewhere in between, and if you could color code it, it would look like a traffic light signal gone mad. The Blue Hen State's knife laws are as fantastic and mystifying as the state's own unsolved mysteries.
Here, we'll attempt to demystify the law and explain in everyday English what you can and cannot own and carry.
The Law Is Confusing11 Del. C. § 1446 (2012)
§ 1446. Unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife; unclassified misdemeanor
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a switchblade knife when the person sells, offers for sale or has in possession a knife, the blade of which is released by a spring mechanism or by gravity.
Switchblades might or might not mean balisong knives. The law here bans knives where the blade is released by a spring or gravity. A balisong’s blade is not released by gravity or a spring. It is released by inertia and a centrifugal force (flipping).
Since the law here does not state a ban on balisongs, it is up to the courts to determine if a balisong is indeed a switchblade. Delaware has no case law on this yet but some states have determined a balisong is a gravity knife whereas others do not.
The Law In Plain EnglishDelaware knife laws differentiate between owning, carrying openly, and concealed carrying knives. There are certain knives that you can own but cannot carry. And then, there are knives that you can openly carry but cannot conceal carry. It's a lot to take.
Knives You Can And Cannot Legally Own In DelawareApart from switchblades and automatic knives, you can own a vast array of knives. All folding knives and fixed blade knives like Bowie are legal to own. That means you can have any of these knives on your property without locking horns with the law.
Knives that are legal to own
- Large fixed blade knives like Bowie
- All dirks and daggers are legal
- All folding knives are legal
- Butterfly knives are legal to own
Knives That Are Illegal To Own
- Switchblades, Automatic Knives, and Gravity Knives
- Undetectable Knives
- Martial Stars or throwing stars
- Knuckle knives
Knives You Can CarryYou can openly carry folding knives, butterfly knives, and fixed blade knives. Limits on carrying knives are imposed on 'conceal carrying'. It's illegal to 'conceal carry' any knife that's not a pocket knife or has a blade of 3 inches or more.
To quote American Knife & Tool Institute, any knife of any sort, other than an “ordinary pocket-knife” carried in a closed position, is considered a “deadly weapon” under Delaware law. In the eyes of the law, a pocket knife is a folding knife with a blade not more than 3 inches in length.