Knives and other bladed weapons are prohibited on campus grounds and could result in fines, imprisonment, or student body sanctions if found on you.
However, different colleges and campuses have varying regulations around having knives. So, you can have some kinds of knives on you.
Continue reading to learn when you can’t have a knife on campus, which kinds of knives may be allowed and what happens when you’re found with one.
What Kinds of Knives Are Not Allowed on Campus?
A majority of outdoor and tactical knives aren’t allowed on campus. Thus, you can bring your kitchen knives since they’re considered utensils rather than weapons.
However, you can’t carry the kitchen knives like you would EDC since they’re not meant to be used that way. So, that could get you in trouble too.
Generally, the knives not allowed on campuses fall under the following categories:
- Dirks and daggers
- Belt buckle knife
- Pen knife
- Lipstick knife
- Automatic knife
- Butterfly knife
- Bowie knife
Note that these are the same knives regulated by state knife laws in the US. Still, colleges can have knife and weapons restrictions different from the state, so it’s best to ask or keep this list in mind for such cases.
Can You Carry Some Knives on Campus?
You can carry a small knife on campus, provided the blade length doesn’t exceed 2.5 inches, it’s not an assisted opening knife and is only sharpened on one side. This kind of knife has a blade smaller than your palm and shouldn’t be used in any threatening situation.
Thus, even though you can carry such a knife on campus, it’s never to be brandished or used to scare anymore. Even if you don’t end up cutting/hurting anyone with the knife, brandishing it like you mean to can land you in trouble.
That said, check if your college allows this kind of knife too. Cos, while that’s the general allowance on knives on campuses, some colleges can have even stricter knife rules.
What Happens If You’re Caught With a Knife on Campus?
The punishment for having a knife on campus depends on the situation where the knife was found and the kind of knife.
Thus, you may get away with a warning if the knife dropped and someone saw it. However, you could face serious charges if you threatened someone with the knife.
Overall, the broad category of repercussions when you’re caught with a knife is:
- Student body judicial sanctions
None of these is worth it and can put a stain on your record (as a student and future employee). So, make sure to stay on the legal side to avoid inconveniences.
How to EDC a Knife Legally on Campus
I’ve compiled this guide to help you carry a knife legally on campuses.
Check the Campus Laws
Make sure you’re not breaking any campus laws by having the knife on you.
If knives are allowed, only carry the dimensions defined by the campus law. That way, you don’t get into any trouble.
Likewise, ensure there aren’t different rules for students and campus visitors. Otherwise, you risk interpreting a knife law for another group like yours. And, with the law, ignorance is not an excuse.
Choose a Simple Knife
There’s a high chance you’ll get away with a simpler knife rather than a full-blown tactical blade.
For example, due to the multi-tool setup, you can easily explain a Swiss army knife away as being useful in your everyday knife. However, you might not have that much success with a tactical tanto blade designed like it’s meant to hurt someone.
So, please keep it simple to avoid glares when you bring the knife out. Otherwise, those ‘glares’ could call the police on you.
Never Brandish Your Knife
Even if you’re carrying a knife for self-defense, I never recommend brandishing the knife.
Also, you need enough self-discipline to carry a knife for self-defense. Otherwise, you’ll become that person who whips their knife out at the slightest, non-violent confrontations.
This makes you the aggressor, not the victim, and you could be charged with serious crimes.
Likewise, keep the knife tucked away when you’re not using it. Just taking it out for the thrill of it is dangerous and could get you arrested.
Have a Reason for Carrying
One of the essential things in the law is intent, even if you haven’t done anything wrong yet. So, carrying your knife with the right intention would be best.
Still, most people only start thinking about the intent when they’ve been accosted, not before. Don’t let that be you!
If you’re ever asked about your knife, which I’m assuming is legal, don’t say it’s for self-defense or anything like that.
Otherwise, this makes the knife a weapon. Instead, say it’s a tool for cutting strings, your daily pizza boxes, etc.
If it’s a multi-tool, you’re in better luck. Think up everyday things you do with each tool, and you’ll have many answers ready when asked.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Have a Knife in a Dorm?
You can have a knife in your dorm if it’s legal according to your school rules, isn’t intended for malicious usage, and isn’t used to threaten other students. However, kitchen and craft knives are often excused from knife laws as long as they’re used properly as utensils and tools (respectively) for which they’re made.
Can You Bring a Swish Army Knife to College?
The Swiss army multi-tool knife is the best knife for college, especially when the college knife laws support such smaller knives. They can be instrumental in day-to-day college life while easy to explain away as a tool (or set of tools) rather than a weapon.
Likewise, most SAKs are under 2.5-inch blade length, the highest allowable folding knife blade length on most campuses. Thus, it helps you stay legal while still EDCing your knife.
If you want to carry the knife for self-defense, I recommend you get some basic knife training. So, you don’t hurt yourself.
Likewise, there are safer options (like pepper spray and even a simple hairbrush) that you can carry for self-defense without raising an eyebrow.
Overall, stay safe, walk in crowds, avoid lonely areas, and improve your situational awareness when walking lonely paths.
I wish you the best with your studies and hope it goes fine without any serious events.