California Sword Law

By Cara O'Neill - Updated June 16, 2017
Crossed blades, katana and wakizashi on black background.

When you think of swords, the long blades of swashbuckling pirates come to mind. If you are after that romantic look and in California, you are in luck -- as long as you wear your sword openly, do not intend to harm anyone and stay off school property, that is.

Unconcealed Dirks and Daggers

According to California law, any instrument used to stab someone and inflict great bodily injury is a dirk or dagger. A sword falls within this definition as do many other fixed-blade knives, such as bayonets, Bowie knives and even common kitchen cheese knives. In California, you can legally carry a sword as long as you do it openly, such as in a sheath strapped to your waist. Concealing it, however, by putting it in your pant leg or in any other way that keeps it from view, is a misdemeanor that could get you up to a year in jail.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are two notable exceptions that make it illegal to carry swords in California. State law makes it a crime to carry any deadly weapon if you plan to harm someone with it. And a private citizen cannot carry any knife with a blade longer than two-and-a-half inches on school premises, even if it is in plain view. Only police officers can carry longer knives on school grounds. Some cities and counties have restrictions about carrying swords in public and onto school property so check your local laws.

About the Author

An attorney for more than 20 years, Cara O'Neill currently practices in the areas of civil litigation, family law and bankruptcy. She also served as an Administrative Law Judge and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of employment law, business law and criminal law for a well-known university. Attending the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, she graduated a National member of the Order of the Barristers - an honor society recognizing excellence in courtroom advocacy. She is currently licensed in the state of California.

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