On December 7th, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. In doing so, Delaware formally become the first state and thus earned the first slot in our occasional series “Know Your Knife Laws.” Although I am a lawyer by trade, this series is intended only as an introduction to state knife laws and is not legal advice. If you absolutely must know what kind of knife you can carry and where you can carry it it Delaware, study up on Title 11 of the Delaware Code and consult with a Delaware lawyer.
All that being said, Delaware regulates the possession and carry of knives fairly strictly. When it comes to carry, it’s better to be a nonresident with a Utah CCW than it is to be a Delaware resident trying to get a CCW, and that’s f-ed up.
Delaware prohibits switchblades, gravity knives, knuckle knives, undetectable non-metal knives, and throwing stars: merely possessing any of these is a misdemeanor. I have to wonder about the mental competence of anyone who would ban throwing stars (which are essentially useless toys except in the hands of experts) but allow throwing knives, which are much heavier and can do much more damage. But whatever…
My limited search could find no authority on whether assisted-openers are considered ‘switchblades’ or not, and the wording of Delaware’s switchblade law isn’t very helpful. Likewise, I didn’t find any clear authority on whether Balisongs are considered ‘gravity knives’ or not. Ask a Delaware lawyer, or carry at your own risk.
Delaware allows concealed carry of folding knives with blades of not more than three inches. Fixed blades and larger knives can only be carried concealed if you’ve got a CCW permit, but they can be carried openly in many areas.
Carrying the wrong kind of knife without a CCW permit is ‘Carrying A Concealed Deadly Weapon’ and is punished just like carrying a concealed firearm without a license: it’s a felony. Ouch.
No Local Law Preemption
Delaware state law partially preempts new local gun laws but not local knife laws, so cities and counties are free to enact more stringent regulations if they choose. My limited research has only located a few local regulations, but that’s because I didn’t even try to look through every county and municipal code.
No Knives In Schools
As does many states, Delaware prohibits knives in schools.
Overall Grade: Kinda Sucks
You can’t carry concealed medium-sized knives or fixed blades without a CCW permit, and you can’t even own a knuckle knife or a switchblade. When it comes to CCW, Delaware is a ‘may issue’ state, although it has reciprocity with many other states. That basically leaves you with your 3″ Spyderco. Delaware’s knife laws could be worse, but they could be so much better…