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Virginia knife laws

Virginia knife laws
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In Virginia, as with other states, laws governing the possession, use, and carrying of knives are designed to maintain public safety and prevent criminal activities. The knife laws in Virginia are comparatively moderate and are defined in various statutes within the Virginia Code. Understanding these laws is essential to ensuring compliance and avoiding potential legal complications.

Types of Knives

Legal Knives

In Virginia, several types of knives are legal to own and carry, including:

  1. Pocket knives
  2. Folding knives
  3. Utility knives
  4. Hunting and fishing knives
  5. Dirks
  6. Bowie knives

Illegal Knives

While many knives are allowed, Virginia law does restrict the ownership and carrying of some knives, which includes:

  1. Ballistic knives – A knife with a detachable blade that can be propelled by a spring or other mechanism.
  2. Switchblade knives with a blade length of over 1.5 inches.

Carrying Laws

Open Carry

In Virginia, open carry of legal knives is generally allowed, but the laws might vary between different localities. It is essential to check the specific regulations of the local area to ensure compliance.

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry laws in Virginia are more stringent than open carry laws. Concealing a dirk, Bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, or any other weapon-like knife in a manner that hides the weapon from common observation is prohibited.

Restricted Locations

Certain locations in Virginia restrict the carrying of knives altogether, including:

  1. Schools and school buses – carrying a knife onto school property or a school bus is prohibited.
  2. Courthouses – Individuals are prohibited from carrying a knife into a courthouse.
  3. Airports – Carrying a knife in secure areas of airports is prohibited.
  4. Government buildings – Many government buildings restrict or prohibit the carrying of knives.

Law Enforcement or Military Exceptions

Members of the law enforcement and military are typically exempt from many of the restrictions imposed on civilians. These individuals are permitted to carry knives both openly and concealed while on duty, as well as possess knives that might otherwise be considered illegal for civilian ownership.

Consequences of Law Violation

Violating knife laws in Virginia can have serious consequences, including criminal charges ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the violation. Penalties might include fines, imprisonment, or both.


In Virginia, while many types of knives are legal to own and carry, certain restrictions apply to the carrying of knives in specific manners and in particular locations. Complying with these laws is vital to avoid legal complications. It is also essential to stay updated on any changes to the knife laws, as they may change over time.


Virginia Code §§ 18.2-308 – Pertaining to concealed carry restrictions

Virginia Code §§ 18.2-311 – Describes prohibited weapons, including certain types of knives

Virginia Code §§ 18.2-308.1 – Prohibiting possession of weapons on school property

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