Can A 16-Year-Old Legally Carry a Knife (State Laws and Requirements)

A 16-year-old can legally carry a knife, considering it’s legal within their state and city laws for a minor to have a knife on them. However, this also depends on the kind of knife and premises where the blade is carried.

In the rest of this guide, I touch on some significant state knife laws around minors and where knives shouldn’t be taken into even when they’re legal.

So, continue reading the rest of this piece to learn everything you need about carrying knives as a minor.

In What Cases Can a 16-Year-Old Legally Carry a Knife?

Even though you’re two years off the minimal age of consent in many regions, certain situations combine to enable 16-year-olds to have an EDC of their own.

I’ve discussed these below.

Case #1: Your State Laws Are in Support

Never do anything about everyday carry knives without first checking your state laws. I’ve reviewed several open and concealed carry state laws to know they can be dicey and open to interpretation.

These laws also change fast, so you best be prepared to stay on top of those changes.

Furthermore, don’t assume a state law is all-encompassing. In a recent knife legality guide, I showed how it’s possible for a knife to be legal in your state but banned (fully or partially) in your city.

So, make sure you’ve checked that legality part also.

Case #2: You’re Not Carrying a Dangerous Weapon

Any knife can be a dangerous weapon, but the law has defined some as more dangerous than others. Of these, we have

That’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with here.

So, even if the law allows you to carry a knife at your age, be sure it’s a legal one you have on you. Otherwise, it takes getting stopped and searched by a law enforcement officer to possibly charge you with something that shouldn’t have been a problem.

If in doubt, stick to smaller pocket knives with blades at/lesser than 3 inches.

Case #3: You’re Not Violating No-Knife Zone Laws

I don’t see why a 16-year-old should be in a bar, but I know that not all bars allow knives.

That said, bars aren’t alone here. While private establishments like bars, clubs, and others can set their laws to allow or not allow weapons, the general state law has some set rules on where you shouldn’t take a weapon.

For example, don’t take a weapon into federal buildings like courthouses and law enforcement zones.

Even if it’s your usual pocket knife, I suggest you leave it outside or declare it to an officer at the entrance. They’ll be in the best place to guide you on what to do.

Likewise, NEVER take your knife into the school. Of course, nobody will know if you never bring it our nor brandish it, but you don’t want to take that chance. Even if it’s a small pocket knife, it can be considered a weapon on school grounds.


Fun Fact: Adults are prohibited from taking knives into designated zones like schools and courthouses.


In What States Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife?

Knife laws based on age aren’t practiced in all US states. About half of all US states have such laws in practice, similar to neighboring states.

A summary of the state knife laws can be found in the table below, and you’ll find an extended commentary below.

StateAge of ProhibitionCan Under 16s Carry?Special Considerations
Alabama19YesMust not be a Bowie knife; Must not be like a bowie; Minors must not be equipped for dueling
Alaska21YesPossible for emancipated minors or persons only
Arizona21YesPocket knives only
Florida18YesCommon pocket knives allowed
New York16YesMust not carry a switchblade, dirk, dagger, gravity knife, ballistic knife, or other dangerous knives
New Jersey18YesMust not be hunting, fishing, or survival knives
Pennsylvania18NoNone
Rhode Island18YesSales must be with a parent present; Certain knives are banned
Texas18YesMust not be a location-restricted knife
West Virginia18YesMust not be a deadly knife
Wisconsin18NoNone
Chosen US states and the legal age to carry a knife in each

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife in Alabama?

Alabama has specific laws against transferring bowie knives or any other related knives to minors defined under the age of 19. However, 16-year-olds can carry small pocket knives, which aren’t deemed dangerous as long as they don’t carry with an intent to commit a crime with it.

Thus, a 16-year-old can’t legally possess a more dangerous knife in Alabama till they come of age lest they and the furnisher of the said knife get in trouble with the law.

Can 16-Year-Olds Carry a Knife in Alaska?

Only emancipated minors and persons under 16 can legally carry a knife in Alaska with permission from a parent first. This law often refers to switchblades and gravity knives alone, as pocket knives are mostly excluded and can be carried without permission.

However, it’s best to still seek parental permission given that the knife laws in Alaska extend to 21-year-olds, making it one of the states with a lengthier average age restriction on knives.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife in Arizona?

Arizona knife laws allow for concealed carry of a pocket knife even by a minor under age 21. However, minors must not be found with a deadly weapon, as defined by law, which includes bowie knives, stilettos, gravity knives, and others.

Does Florida Law Allow 16-Year-Olds to Carry Knives?

Florida law bans the transfer of deadly weapons and dangerous knives to minors but allows the standard pocket knife instead. It’s best to follow the general rule and ensure this pocket knife isn’t more than 3.5 inches in blade length and isn’t intended for use as a deadly weapon.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife In New York?

New York controls the knife carry age from the supply and demand side, preventing sellers from providing minors (under the age of 16) with ballistic knives, gravity knives, switchblades, and other dangerous knives. If a minor is found in possession of these dangerous knives in NYC, they can be charged under the juvenile delinquent penal code applicable to the crime.

Can 16-Year-Olds Carry a Knife In New Jersey?

New Jersey law prohibits users under the majority age from carrying a hunting, fishing, or survival knife. This makes it possible for minors of age 16 to carry a small pocket knife or Swiss army knife that’s neither intended to cause harm nor classified in any of those categories.

Furthermore, minors in New Jersey can’t carry a knife with a blade length of more than 5 inches or an overall knife length of more than ten inches. Thus, consider this when choosing a pocket knife for a minor in New Jersey.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife In Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law prevents the sale of a knife with a blade more than 3 inches to a minor. This law also prohibits children from carrying knives at this blade length, only below, but nothing is said of the overall knife length.

Likewise, the Rhode Island law against selling knives to minors specifically mentions dirks, daggers, stiletto knives, bowie knives, sword-in-cane, and razors. So, even if these knives are within the legal length for a child to carry, they still can’t be carried by that child.

Finally, a parent must be present when the 16-year-old buys their knife. Else, they can’t get it legally, which constitutes another issue when it’s found on them.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Pocket Knife in Texas?

Texas allows minors to carry knives if it’s not a location-restricted knife, defined as 5.5 inches or more in blade length alone.

It’s also unlawful for an adult to give such location-restricted knives to a minor (under 18), as well as for the minor to knowingly possess such a knife, even if they’re not carrying it.

In summary, 16-year-olds can carry a small pocket knife in Texas as long as it’s below 5.5 inches in blade length, isn’t intended as a weapon, and is not classified as one of the more dangerous knives.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry a Knife In West Virginia?

Pocket knives are often excluded from the class of deadly weapons in West Virginia, making them legal to carry for minors.

Likewise, the pocket knives must not exceed 3.5 inches in blade length to be considered legal. Else, it may be classed as a dangerous weapon.

To carry deadlier knives, you must be 18 in West Virginia and apply for a provisional license. Otherwise, you may not lawfully carry such a weapon concealed till you’re at least 21.

Can a 16-Year-Old Carry Knives in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania?

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are two states that classify knives under the designed-as-a-weapon category. Thus, this blanket term prevents the sales of dangerous weapons and knives to minors.

If you want to carry a knife as a minor here, it’s best to speak with a lawyer in the region to know if there’s any getting around the law since it’s pretty definitive.

Can a 16-Year-Old Legally Buy a Pocket Knife?

A 16-year-old can purchase an ordinary pocket knife in most states legally, but knife vendors may be wary of selling to them for fear of getting into trouble with the law.

Thus, most minors must present their parents, a legal guardian, or buy knives online.

I’ve done a more comprehensive guide on what ages to buy a knife in different US states legally. The guide discusses the age limits, requirements for states where you can purchase a knife as a minor, and other ways to get a knife in specific restricted locations.

Can a 16-Year-Old Legally Carry a Knife in a Purse?

It’s legal for a 16-year-old to carry a knife in their purse if they’re not carrying an illegal knife and have state/city laws supporting such knife carry at their age.

Likewise, they must not carry this knife in designated no-knife zones like schools, churches, or the courthouse. Otherwise, they may be charged with juvenile delinquency, based on the state.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t an exhaustive guide nor legal advice, but it gives you the basis to go on if you want to carry a knife as a 16-year-old.

You now know what kinds of knives to avoid, what types of knives may be allowed, and what some states say about this situation. On top of that, I recommend speaking with a local attorney or emailing your local police department to ask for more clarity.

I wish you a safe carrying experience, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your foray into this new world of knives.

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