Quick Legal Facts
Concealment is not an issue.
There is a prohibition for the possession of firearms and dangerous weapons on school grounds.
One-and-a-half inch maximum blade length for "automatic" or "switchblade" type knives. Four inches in length of edged portion of a blade of knife that can be legally carried.
At a Glance:
Two Connecticut statutes restrict the possession or carry of knives beyond one’s home. § 53-206 applies generally, while § 29-38 to weapons in a vehicle. The wording of both statutes is similar with respect to what is restricted and what exceptions apply. Essentially it is unlawful (Class D felony) to possess an automatic knife with a blade longer than 1 ½ inches or any knife with a blade longer than 4 inches.
There are no forbidden knives under Connecticut law.
Whether a knife is carried openly or concealed is not an issue.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances:
It is unlawful to possess a deadly weapon as defined in § 53a-3 on the grounds of public or private schools K through 12, and at any school-sponsored activities.
There is no statewide preemption of knife laws.
Connecticut law allows the possession and carry of automatic knives subject to a very restrictive 1 ½ inches blade length maximum. One other U.S. state (Massachusetts) has the same restriction. Given the limited market for automatic knives of this size, such knives are not widely available. Connecticut has not adopted a bias toward closure exception and no appeal court-level cases address assisted opening knives. We accordingly recommend such knives be avoided.
§ 53-206 and 29-38 Knives
The statutes captioned Carrying of dangerous weapons prohibited and Weapons in vehicles. Penalty. Exceptions allow for the possession and carry of “any knife the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or more in length.” This rule for blade measurement differs from most other states. It is not entirely clear how the dimension in question is to be measured.
Various exceptions are provided for both sections which are essentially the same:
The provisions of this section shall not apply to (1) any officer charged with the preservation of the public peace while engaged in the pursuit of such officer’s official duties . . . (3) the carrying of a knife, the edged portion of the blade of which is four inches or more in length, by
(A) any member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined in section 27-103, or any reserve component thereof, or of the armed forces of the state, as defined in section 27-2, when on duty or going to or from duty,
(B) any member of any military organization when on parade or when going to or from any place of assembly,
(C) any person while transporting such knife as merchandise or for display at an authorized gun or knife show,
(D) any person who is found with any such knife concealed upon one’s person while lawfully removing such person’s household goods or effects from one place to another, or from one residence to another,
(E) any person while actually and peaceably engaged in carrying any such knife from such person’s place of abode or business to a place or person where or by whom such knife is to be repaired, or while actually and peaceably returning to such person’s place of abode or business with such knife after the same has been repaired,
(F) any person holding a valid hunting, fishing, or trapping license issued pursuant to chapter 490 or any saltwater fisherman carrying such knife for lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping activities, or
(G) any person while participating in an authorized historic re- enactment.
These exceptions are affirmative defenses that must be established by the individual.
53a-217b. Possession of a weapon on school grounds provides that it is a Class D felony to possess a deadly weapon as defined in § 53a-3. Definitions on the grounds of any public or private primary or secondary school. The restriction extends to any school-sponsored activity which is not limited to school property.
53a-3. Definitions provide the following definition:
“Deadly weapon” means any weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot may be discharged, or a switchblade knife, gravity knife, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, or metal knuckles. The definition of “deadly weapon” in this subdivision shall be deemed not to apply to section 29-38 or 53-206;
§ 53a-217b has not been the subject of appellate review in Connecticut. Local Board of Education policies and regulations typically forbid possession of knives. We recommend caution.
Law Enforcement / Military
Various exceptions for law enforcement and military members are provided in §§ 53-206 and 29-38 as set forth above.
Violations of §§ 53-206, 29-38, and 53a-217b are a Class D felony and are punishable by imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.
Knives as Constitutionally Protected “Arms”
The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled in the State of Connecticut v. DeCiccio, 105 A3d. 165 (2014), that dirk knives are arms within the ambit of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In other words, dirks are not dangerous and unusual weapons and, as such, restrictions are accordingly limited. The opinion discusses the similarity of dirks to military issue knives such as the USMC Ka-Bar, the US Navy issue M-2, and the M-3 “trench knife.” It also contains an excellent examination of this issue and offers a strong statement against the stigmatization of dirks and daggers.
Updated May 27, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson
Court Case Summaries:
State of Connecticut v. DeCiccio
315 Conn. 79 (2014)
Decided: December 23, 2014
The right to transport knives as a corollary right to a right of self-defense.