Five days after Delaware, Pennsylvania ratified the United States Constitution on December 12th, 1787. Since then, the Pennsylvania state legislature has only seen fit to keep one knife law on the books. But that single state law isn’t the end of the story about knives in the Keystone State…
As I mentioned in the first installment of ‘Know Your Knife Laws’, I’m not licensed in any state except Washington and none of this is meant to be relied on as legal advice. If you need to know what you can or can’t get away with under any state or local law, you’ll need to hit the law books yourself or call a lawyer in that state.
That being said, PA state law is refreshingly simple: no switchblades, and no weapons in schools. Everything else, including fixed blades and balisongs, seems to be fine.
But PA knife law is also infuriatingly vague, and there is no preemption of more restrictive local ordinances. This lack of preemption lets Philadelphia get away with the most stupidly restrictive knife law I’ve ever heard of anywhere in the United States: complete prohibition, as in ‘no cutting weapons in public.’ Period. Ever. Unless you’re actually using one in your job in public.
There may be other crazy local knife ordinances in Pennsylvania, but Philly’s really takes the cheesecake. Internet forum chatter would tell you that Philly cops won’t hassle you for having a Benchmade clipped in your pocket. This might be so, but remember that the City Of Brotherly Love has some of the most corrupt police in the country. The threat of a $300 fine and 90 days in the hoosegow will probably convince you not to press the issue if you find yourself being shaken down by Officer Winchell and his partner, Sergeant Dunkin.
Conclusion: Beware of local PA knife laws when visiting. If you live there, lobby for state preemption and tell your state representative to read David Kopel’s constitutional law article. It’s up to us to get this crap repealed.