Know Your Knife Laws: Maryland


Image courtesy Wikipedia CommonsMaryland was the seventh state to join the Union, ratifying the Constitution on April 28th, 1788. It was a quasi-Southern state in the early Republic, and the Bladensburg dueling grounds outside Washington, D.C. witnessed many famous duels with guns and blades between 1808 and 1868. What can today’s aspiring Blade Runner carry (legally) in Maryland? Read on…

After the usual disclaimer, of course: it bears repeating that I’m a lawyer, but 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. And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Maryland’s statewide knife laws, in contrast to their increasingly-moronic gun laws, are simple and generally reasonable. At the risk of a slight oversimplification, here they are:

  • You can own whatever the $%&* you want to.
  • Don’t carry a concealed switchblade, dirk, Bowie, or gravity knife.
  • Don’t have a knife in school.
  • Don’t sell a switchblade or ballistic knife.

There’s no blade limit on folding knives, as long as they’re not switchblades, gravity knives or automatics. Ganz gut so far, eh?

The Catch: No Preemption

Unfortunately Maryland knife law isn’t really as nice as it sounds, because there’s no preemption of stupid local laws. Some localities limit all concealed knives to 3″ blades, and others limit them to 2.5.” There may be other stupid knife laws in Maryland, but I’m not getting paid enough to find every one of them.


Rock on with your manual folders and assisted openers, but beware local blade-length ordinances.


  1. the last Marine out says:

    I had jury duty in Baltimore, Md. any how i always carry a folder, got stopped at court house door, and they took my 3 in. blade fish knife , had scale cleaner, was a fisherman’s knife, after jury duty that day , they would not return it… Md. is a hell hole and i will never ever return…

    1. Pat says:

      Wow. Stupid laws by stupid politicians. Know your knife laws or carry cheap blades so you dont care if they are stolen.
      Nice way to repay you for your jury duty.

    2. Mike says:

      Most would ask why you would take such an item to a courthouse to serve jury duty? They were more than justified in taking the knife in that case and they tell you not bring such items on the website and on telephone confirmation system.

  2. Phil says:

    an explanation should not be required. The tool’s purpose should be self explanatory. The owner should be required to lock it away it a courtesy locker, be held by proper staff, or take it back to their locked vehicle. I work in a much more secure facility than a courthouse, and it is commonplace for someone to forget something on their person and be required to secure it. That is normal SOP’s. Furthermore, if the owner of said tool was not issued and had not signed a valid citation, I would have waited at the courtroom until my civil case was in session against such jurisdiction that seized my property unlawfully. Just my $.02.

  3. eric smith says:

    I work at the court house in Baltimore, they will take all weapons at the door and give them back unless its a gun and you don’t have a right to carry.

  4. shakypete says:

    I took my Kershaw Cryo into the Annapolis Courthouse, not thinking. I checked it at the security screen, and was handed it back as I was leaving. I think they wanted to keep your knife…

    Anyone know the reference for the Maryland case law that addresses and supports the lack of size limit when defining “Penknife?”

  5. Sarah Teal says:

    I lucked out. Not only do I have a great Halloween costume this year, but I have a party to wear it to. I am a hobbyist Costumer, but my weapons are quite real.

    I am in Cambridge, Maryland.

    If this was all on private property, it wouldn’t be as problematic. Unfortunately, I have to take mass transit or walk across town.

    I am specifically interested in carrying either a katana on my back (in peace tie), and/or a set of three short throwing knives on my thigh (black carbon with black wrap).

    I have several pocket knives, all of which are 3″ or under.

    Does anyone know if the cops are likely to arrest me or confiscate in Cambridge, Maryland?

    Thanks in advance,

    – Sarah

    1. Sarah,

      I know Cambridge well, but I would hesitate to strap on the katanas and stroll about if they were real… might be asking for trouble.

      The pocketknives ought to be fine on their own, but if you catch some flak for the swords, the pocketknives could make things worse.

      Just my two cents… I’m no lawyer and none of the above should be construed as legal advice.

  6. Michael weber says:

    I was arrested and taken to jail for child support warrant with out being searched when getting to jail the jail officer removed the items from my pocket and charged me with concealed dangerous weapon cause I had a knife in my pocket. The police officer could have searched me before I went but didn’t. The knife was also legal to have.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I was fishing at loch raven resevoir. on my way out i was stopped by a park ranger. She told me that i was illegally carrying my fixed blade survival knife. it was in its case, on my belt, completely insight. i had no intent to harm, it was obvious that i was fishin and hiking, beings i had my campin back pack full of fishin gear and an extra rod. she let me go, but said that i was told incorrect information, i *thought i read it was legal, as long as its not concealed or being carried w/ the intent to harm anyone. i think she was just angry she didnt catch me fishing where i came out of the woods… anyone know what the deal is? she claimed that everyone believes that they can open carry, but they are wrong. i was in no place to argue. just apologized about my “bad information” and was very polite, as was she. loaded up my car and went about my buisness.
    so again, my question would be, is it legal to carry a gerber survivor knife on my side in full view in Baltimore?

  8. John says:

    Is it legal to open carry an m16 bayonet in Baltimore city/county?

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Know Your Knife Laws: Maryland

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