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#233002 - 09/30/11 12:38 PM San francisco Knife laws
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
I have searched the site and did not find anything specific to my question. This question is for anyone who lives in, or is familiar with, the San Francisco area knife carry laws. I have researched the California laws and the San Francisco specific laws. I just want to make sure I understand them clearly. I will be working there for a short time in the not too distant future.

As I understand it, the California law does not limit blade length of a folding knife, only their classifications of a "switchblade" type knife. In San Francisco, the blade must be under 3 inches, but there seems to be some connection to illegal loitering before it becomes illegal.

I normally carry a one hand opening knife, generally a Spyderco. I do have several choices, so it is not a huge deal to me, but my co-workers may resist the restrictions. My intent is to ensure nobody gets into trouble.

Any illumination on the legal climate in San Francisco as it relates to pocket knives and tools would be appreciated.

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#233015 - 09/30/11 04:37 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
It's been a while since I last checked the SF laws, but I think you should be fine with any folder less than 3", and like you mentioned, that length limit really only applies if you're also worried about also being cited for loitering. I never did figure out if an assisted opening knife falls under the San Francisco definition of a "switchblade".

I visit San Francisco often for work. I can't remember ever hearing any stories or reading anything about people getting into trouble for knives. I rarely see the police around, even downtown, unless you're at some demonstration or other event, like a street fair or ball game.

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#233029 - 09/30/11 08:03 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
Thanks. The ground truth is exactly what I was looking for.

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#233033 - 09/30/11 09:19 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 856
Loc: Southern California
The thing isn't the San Francisco proper knife laws, it's the outlying cities. For example, Fremont has a 2" limit (section 3-3105), Oakland has a 3" limit (section 9.36.010), and Redwood City and Milpitas don't appear to have any local restriction.

http://www.municode.com/Library/ClientListing.aspx?stateID=5
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#233036 - 09/30/11 10:02 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: Mark_R]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
The problem in CA is that individual police officers often don't know the exact details of the knife laws. Some policemen do - but many don't. Some may insist that the blade you are carrying is illegal and ask you to turn it over - even when your folder is legal. My suggestion is to comply with their request if they make a big deal about it, and ask for a receipt - you should be able to get it back in due course. And you're right - switchblades, balisong knives and spring knives are not permitted.

Pete2


Edited by Pete (09/30/11 10:03 PM)

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#233040 - 09/30/11 10:23 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
ireckon Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1629
Loc: Northern California
I have found this article to be a good summary of knife laws of California (and San Francisco), even though the guy is not a laywer:
http://zknives.com/knives/articles/law/caknifelaws.shtml

If you read that article and use common sense, you'll sail through California unnoticed. It's unrealistic to worry yourself constantly about the ordinances of every little city of California. You can let yourself get paranoid to the point you don't want to wear metal belt buckles.

Side note, I have been carrying a folding knife daily for decades without incident in California, including San Francisco. I'm not saying that makes me an expert, but I have had to think about this issue within a multitude of real world situations.
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#233044 - 09/30/11 11:03 PM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
Thanks all. I have seen that article, but talking to people who live and work in the environment is worth much more.

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#233059 - 10/01/11 02:51 AM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
ireckon Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/01/10
Posts: 1629
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Montanero
Thanks all. I have seen that article, but talking to people who live and work in the environment is worth much more.


OK...I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. All due respect to everybody here, I welcome personal stories. However, if I had to decide, I'd have more trust in my common sense and my clear understanding of the law.
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#233062 - 10/01/11 03:39 AM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: gonewiththewind]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Knife laws are fine, but it's better not to even have the issue arise.

If you use some common sense, no officer will have the opportunity to even ask what you've got.

Don't drive like an idiot, don't get drunk, don't get obnoxious, don't flash your blades.

I've traveled in practically every state north of the M-D line, and carried a knife that probably wasn't legal. No one knew.

Sue

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#233118 - 10/02/11 11:36 AM Re: San francisco Knife laws [Re: ireckon]
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
Originally Posted By: ireckon
Originally Posted By: Montanero
Thanks all. I have seen that article, but talking to people who live and work in the environment is worth much more.


OK...I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. All due respect to everybody here, I welcome personal stories. However, if I had to decide, I'd have more trust in my common sense and my clear understanding of the law.


Yes I read the laws and gained a good understanding myself, but what I was looking for was how it is actually enforced. As you will find if you dig into it, many of the local police are not quite sure of the legal size limit. Some cities will really look for such things while others will only care if you are arrested or searched for some other reason. There is also the issue of security at individual locations, like in Washington DC, where entering many buildings is like going through airport security. These things are not in the legal codes and can only be gathered from your experience or that of others. I do not plan on any discovery learning experiences there.

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