Illinois Knife Laws

Navigating Illinois’s Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

This state is another brick in the wall of adventure with 804 hiking trails. Possessing one or more knives is necessary for hiking and outdoor activities.

So, you may expect flexible knife laws here. Yet, you need to understand the knife laws that can have some expecptions.

There are some knives, such as ballistic knife, automatic knife, and throwing knife, which is illegal here.

Whether you intend to travel to the land of Lincoln or live there, you must know the knife laws properly.

This article will walk you through the knife laws in Illinois and other necessary information you need to follow for carrying a weapon.


  • Statewide Preemption: No
  • Concealed Carry: There is no extra law on concealed carry knives. Whether it is open carry or concealed carry, the law is always the same.
  • Schools: Schools are always weapon-free zones that are applicable to knives, to be obvious. And it is a punishable crime to carry a knife to school.
  • Critical Dimension: You can not carry a knife more than three inches long to public property. However, according to Chicago city law, blade length should be under 2.5 inches.

List Of Illegal Knives In Illinois

Despite flexible knife laws, there are certain knives that are illegal here.

Before proceeding to the complicated stuff, allow me to introduce these knives that you should never carry here in Illinois.

However, some are not completely illegal, but in specific places. Nonetheless, you need to know it first. And we will discuss the exceptions later.

  • Ballistic knife
  • Switchblade/automatic knife
  • Throwing stars and knife
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According to the 720 ILCS 5/24-1, it is an offense to use these knives. Possessing, selling, manufacturing, and purchasing these knives are illegal in the land of Lincoln.

Prohibited To Carry In Certain Areas

Whether you are carrying a legal or illegal knife, possessing that on school property is prohibited. On top of that, schools are a weapon-free zone.

So, any weapon, whether it is a knife or a gun, is a punishable crime.

Similarly, you can not carry any weapon, including knives, in the courthouse, public park, or residential property that is owned by a public housing agency.

Also, there is a law for carrying a knife on public property. According to 720 ILCS 5/21-6, If the knife is longer than three inches, it is a punishable crime unless you have written permission from the commissioner.

720 ILCS 5/21-6

Chicago Stricted More

Illinois state does not prevent local governments from applying laws for carrying a weapon.

Therefore, Instead of a 3-inch legal knife length, Chicago city made it 2.5 inches or shorter for the legal length of a knife.

So far, Chicago knife laws are slightly different from the state laws. Also, there are certain knives available that are called Chicago knives.

These are the knives that are legal in Chicago city.

However, there are special laws for other local governments of this state. For example, Loves park allows you to carry or possess a knife that is less than 1.5 inches.

And there are numerous cities where concealed carry is prohibited. These local government laws on knives are complicated in some cases.

local government laws on knives

No Laws For Conceal Or Open Carry

Whether you conceal or open carry, the knife laws apply the same. As long as your knife is legal, you can either conceal or keep it open while carrying.

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However, you have to be over 18 to get a weapon/firearm license.

You Can Carry A Switch Blade Knife After 21

After getting the FOID license, you can also apply for a switchblade knife by paying a $10 application fee.

Moreover, you need to be over 21 years of age to apply. And the process can take up to 30 days.

However, this law is from the state. So, cities can deny this law and make their own law about carrying and possessing a knife.

Penalties And Punishment For Carrying Illegal Knives

Carrying or possessing an illegal knife is a class A misdemeanor crime, and you will get punishment according to that. The knives that we mentioned above as illegal will go under this law.

And you can have up to one year in jail or a $2500 fine. Also, selling, trading, purchasing, and manufacturing an illegal knife will get similar punishment.

However, concealed carrying an illegal knife or possessing it in a vehicle is a serious crime. Yet, you can carry a knife in a car in Illinois while it is legal.

Carrying an illegal weapon to a public gathering is also prohibited under this law. Otherwise, it will be a class 4 felony where you can get 1-3 years of jail time.

In addition, if anyone violates the laws in the school, public housing agency-owned residential property, or any other public property is a class 2 felony.

Also, carrying any weapon to the courtroom is a similar crime. According to the law, you can get three to seven years of imprisonment for committing this crime.

List Of Legal Knives

Any knife that is shorter than 3 inches is legal to own here. Except for ballistic knives, throwing knives, or any knife that opens automatically by hand pressure.

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You can own every knife with the legal knife length. And these are the popular legal knives here in the land of Lincoln.

  • Pocket knife
  • Hunting knives
  • butterfly knives
  • Gimlet Knife

However, the laws are changeable according to the circumstances. If your intention to violate other laws and commit a crime using a legal knife is also called a felony.

When you are about to visit Illinois or if you live there, you should follow the legal length and keep in mind the illegal knives.


The Prairie state may not have the most flexible knife laws, but it is easy to carry or possess a knife here compared to other states.

However, carrying a knife to harm a person or property is a prohibited and punishable crime.

Except for Chicago city and Loves park, you can carry a three inches knife anywhere in the state.

However, you should never carry illegal knives such as switchblades, throwing knives, or ballistic knives unless you want to violate a class A misdemeanor.

Here, concealed carry or open carry does not differ at all.

Yet, you may need to describe what you are carrying when a police officer stops you for any reason. And you have to do that before they ask.

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