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Maryland Knife and Pepper Spray Laws

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Last time I went to Maryland I checked and you can take a handgun, as long as it is kept, un-loaded in a locked box in the trunk of your car. You can have a loaded gun in your room.

I did not check on knife laws.
 

MudCamper

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Well I found this in the Maryland code:
§ 4-101. Dangerous weapons.

(a) Definitions.-

(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) "Nunchaku" means a device constructed of two pieces of any substance, including wood, metal, or plastic, connected by any chain, rope, leather, or other flexible material not exceeding 24 inches in length.

(3) (i) "Pepper mace" means an aerosol propelled combination of highly disabling irritant pepper-based products.

(ii) "Pepper mace" is also known as oleoresin capsicum (o.c.) spray.

(4) "Star knife" means a device used as a throwing weapon, consisting of several sharp or pointed blades arrayed as radially disposed arms about a central disk.

(5) (i) "Weapon" includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.

(ii) "Weapon" does not include:

1. a handgun; or

2. a penknife without a switchblade.

(b) Exceptions for certain individuals.- This section does not prohibit the following individuals from carrying a weapon:

(1) an officer of the State, or of any county or municipal corporation of the State, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the officer's official equipment, or by any conservator of the peace, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the conservator's official equipment, or by any officer or conservator of the peace of another state who is temporarily in this State;

(2) a special agent of a railroad;

(3) a holder of a permit to carry a handgun issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article; or

(4) an individual who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger, subject to the right of the court in an action arising under this section to judge the reasonableness of the carrying of the weapon, and the proper occasion for carrying it, under the evidence in the case.

(c) Prohibited.-

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.

(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.

(3) (i) This paragraph applies in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Cecil County, Harford County, Kent County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, St. Mary's County, Talbot County, Washington County, and Worcester County.

(ii) A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not, except while:

1. on a bona fide hunting trip; or

2. engaged in or on the way to or returning from a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity.

(d) Penalties.-

(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.

(2) For a person convicted under subsection (c)(1) or (2) of this section, if it appears from the evidence that the weapon was carried, concealed or openly, with the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another, the court shall impose the highest sentence of imprisonment prescribed.

[An. Code 1957, art. 27, § 36; 2002, ch. 26, § 2; ch. 213, § 6; ch. 571, § 1; 2003, ch. 17; ch. 21, § 1.]
So, you cannot carry a "weapon". A "penknife" is not a "weapon". A "switchblade" and a "dirk" are weapons. So if my folding lockblade knife is not a switchblade nor a dirk it is OK.

Pepper spray is OK as long as you do not intend to "injure" or use in an "unlawful manner".
 

MudCamper

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OK, found this site: http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/md.txt

Which includes citations of various case laws, including:

- "'Gravity knife' constituted a dangerous or deadly weapon."
(1964)
- "Pocketknife with the blade already open did not require
any time to open the knife, as one would with a penknife,
contained all the offensive qualities of a switchblade or
gravity knife because it was instantly available for
violent use, and was not a penknife within the statutory
exception." (1990)
- "On the face of the statute, there is no indication
contradicting the view that a penknife is a penknife
whether small or large, whether the blade is closed or
open, whether the blade is locked open or unlocked, and
whether it is carried concealed or openly." (1991)
- "A folding knife without switchblade but with a locking
device... falls within the exception for 'penknives
without switchblade" in this section." (1986)
- " A buck [sic] knife (a knife having a blade which folds
into the handle and which locks into place when open)
carried with the blade open was 'penknife without
switchblade' within statutory exception, and this status
was not altered by knife's blade-locking device or fact
that it was carried with its blade open." (1991)


Notice that the courts disagree with each other with regard to carrying a folding knife in the open possition. Regardless of that, they all rule that a closed folding knife is legal.
 

Novus Collectus

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MudCamper wrote:
Well I found this in the Maryland code:
§ 4-101. Dangerous weapons.

(a) Definitions.-

(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) "Nunchaku" means a device constructed of two pieces of any substance, including wood, metal, or plastic, connected by any chain, rope, leather, or other flexible material not exceeding 24 inches in length.

(3) (i) "Pepper mace" means an aerosol propelled combination of highly disabling irritant pepper-based products.

(ii) "Pepper mace" is also known as oleoresin capsicum (o.c.) spray.

(4) "Star knife" means a device used as a throwing weapon, consisting of several sharp or pointed blades arrayed as radially disposed arms about a central disk.

(5) (i) "Weapon" includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.

(ii) "Weapon" does not include:

1. a handgun; or

2. a penknife without a switchblade.

(b) Exceptions for certain individuals.- This section does not prohibit the following individuals from carrying a weapon:

(1) an officer of the State, or of any county or municipal corporation of the State, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the officer's official equipment, or by any conservator of the peace, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the conservator's official equipment, or by any officer or conservator of the peace of another state who is temporarily in this State;

(2) a special agent of a railroad;

(3) a holder of a permit to carry a handgun issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article; or

(4) an individual who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger, subject to the right of the court in an action arising under this section to judge the reasonableness of the carrying of the weapon, and the proper occasion for carrying it, under the evidence in the case.

(c) Prohibited.-

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.

(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.

(3) (i) This paragraph applies in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Cecil County, Harford County, Kent County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, St. Mary's County, Talbot County, Washington County, and Worcester County.

(ii) A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not, except while:

1. on a bona fide hunting trip; or

2. engaged in or on the way to or returning from a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity.

(d) Penalties.-

(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.

(2) For a person convicted under subsection (c)(1) or (2) of this section, if it appears from the evidence that the weapon was carried, concealed or openly, with the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another, the court shall impose the highest sentence of imprisonment prescribed.

[An. Code 1957, art. 27, § 36; 2002, ch. 26, § 2; ch. 213, § 6; ch. 571, § 1; 2003, ch. 17; ch. 21, § 1.]
So, you cannot carry a "weapon". A "penknife" is not a "weapon". A "switchblade" and a "dirk" are weapons. So if my folding lockblade knife is not a switchblade nor a dirk it is OK.

Pepper spray is OK as long as you do not intend to "injure" or use in an "unlawful manner".
The prohibition only applies to open carry with the intent to unlawfully injure and concealed. If worn openly for lawful purposes, this statute does not prohibit weapons carry for adults.
 

Novus Collectus

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MudCamper wrote:
OK, found this site: http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/md.txt

Which includes citations of various case laws, including:

- "'Gravity knife' constituted a dangerous or deadly weapon."
(1964)
- "Pocketknife with the blade already open did not require
any time to open the knife, as one would with a penknife,
contained all the offensive qualities of a switchblade or
gravity knife because it was instantly available for
violent use, and was not a penknife within the statutory
exception." (1990)
- "On the face of the statute, there is no indication
contradicting the view that a penknife is a penknife
whether small or large, whether the blade is closed or
open, whether the blade is locked open or unlocked, and
whether it is carried concealed or openly." (1991)
- "A folding knife without switchblade but with a locking
device... falls within the exception for 'penknives
without switchblade" in this section." (1986)
- " A buck [sic] knife (a knife having a blade which folds
into the handle and which locks into place when open)
carried with the blade open was 'penknife without
switchblade' within statutory exception, and this status
was not altered by knife's blade-locking device or fact
that it was carried with its blade open." (1991)


Notice that the courts disagree with each other with regard to carrying a folding knife in the open possition. Regardless of that, they all rule that a closed folding knife is legal.
There was a case in 2001 in front of the federal Appeals Court about a MD case that seems to have settled this rather well:

In Bacon v. State, 586 A.2d 18 (Md. 1991), the Court of Appeals
addressed the question of whether a folding knife that was unfolded
and locked was illegal under Md. Ann. Code art. 27 § 36(a). The
court started its analysis by defining both penknives and switchblades.
Like the In re Daryl L. court, the Bacon court quotes Mackall’s definition
of a penknife. Holding that the open and locked knife was not
banned by the concealed weapons statute,
the court wrote:
[align=center]On the face of the statute, there is no indication contradicting
the view that a penknife is a penknife whether small
or large, whether the blade is closed or open, whether the
blade is locked open or unlocked, whether it is carried concealed
or openly. Its character is not changed by being carried
openly with the blade unfolded; its dangerous
propensity is merely more easily realized.
. . . We call attention to the fact that Mackall v. State, 283
Md. 100, 387 A.2d 762, was decided 13 July 1978. The
General Assembly has had a dozen opportunities to correct
our view of a "penknife" if it believed that our view was
contrary to the legislative intent.
[/align]Bacon, 586 A.2d at 22-23. The knife in Bacon had a five-inch blade.
Id. at 20.
To sum up, the highest court in Maryland has more than once
defined "penknife" as "any knife with the blade folding into the handle,
some very large." Maryland cases also establish the legality of a
folding knife with a 3 3/4-inch blade and a locking device as well as
the legality of an unfolded and locked folding knife with a five-inch
blade. Consequently, it is clearly established that Sorrell’s knife, a
folding knife with a folded three-inch blade, is a legal "penknife without
switchblade."


http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/011565.U.pdf
 

Sonora Rebel

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Save yourself some (or a lot of) trouble and not bring (or wear on your person) either of those devices in Maryland. Get used to the idea of being completely defensless while there, as it (the law) will be enforced. It's unconstitutional... but it's Maryland.
 

Novus Collectus

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Sonora Rebel wrote:
Save yourself some (or a lot of) trouble and not bring (or wear on your person) either of those devices in Maryland. Get used to the idea of being completely defensless while there, as it (the law) will be enforced. It's unconstitutional... but it's Maryland.
You haven't lived in MD for a while, your information is out of date. There is no state prohibition or state law on the open carry of any knife for legal self defense by an adult. The police cannot legally arrest someone for something there is no law against.
If you were a Baltimore cop today and you arrested someone for wearing a buck knife openly or a penknife of any size in the pocket unfolded and you only arrested them for that, you would likely lose your house and life savings. So maybe it is a good thing you fled Maryland for Arizona when you did.
 

Sonora Rebel

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There's the 'law' and then there's 'reality. You will get arrested. Trust me!

That's a one-handed fast opening tactical knife... 'n that's a no-no.
 

Novus Collectus

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Sonora Rebel wrote:
There's the 'law' and then there's 'reality. You will get arrested. Trust me!
There is the old reality and there is the current reality. One cop a few years found out the hard way that when you illegally arrest someone for a knife law that does not exist, you do not have qualified immunity and you will lose the lawsuit.

Arrest me, I need the money. I promise I will thank you after you pay me.

A lot of the cops nowadays in MD got the message about the knife laws. For those that have not, maybe their supervisors will que them in before they make a horrible mistake.
 

Sonora Rebel

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'Tell ya what slick... go wander around Bowie or Laurel/Ft. Meade areawith a big toad-sticker on your belt in any one of those big Mall areas. Do that for about a month... daily... 'n then explain to the nice policeman (especially MSP) you only have it for self defense.

You talk a good game for never having actually DONE IT! Gettin' arrested 'n gettin' convicted are two different things... But... you will get arrested... and the MD SA won't listen to your whining about 'false arrest' afterward.
 

Novus Collectus

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Sonora Rebel wrote:
'Tell ya what slick... go wander around Bowie or Laurel/Ft. Meade areawith a big toad-sticker on your belt in any one of those big Mall areas. Do that for about a month... daily... 'n then explain to the nice policeman (especially MSP) you only have it for self defense.

You talk a good game for never having actually DONE IT! Gettin' arrested 'n gettin' convicted are two different things... But... you will get arrested... and the MD SA won't listen to your whining about 'false arrest' afterward.
My brother has walked around parts of Baltimore with a sword on his back recently and he said cops have seen him with and he was not arrested....slick.
You are living in the 80s law, things have changed.
I guess one cop getting his ass sued for an illegal arrest for knife laws successfully kinda spread the word.

Local Government Insurance Trust (caps theirs) and their advice to Maryland police officers:
LGIT’S ROLL CALL REPORTER DECEMBER 2004 THE “PENKNIFE” EXCEPTION IN MARYLAND’S CONCEALED WEAPONS STATUTE

QUESTION: DOES A POLICE OFFICER HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO MAKE AN ARREST UNDER MARYLAND’S CONCEALED WEAPONS STATUTE WHERE THE SUSPECT IS IN POSSESSION OF A FOLDING KNIFE (A KNIFE WITH THE BLADE FOLDING INTO THE HANDLE)?

ANSWER: NO. MARYLAND’S CONCEALED WEAPONS STATUTE CONTAINS AN EXCEPTION FOR “A PENKNIFE WITHOUT A SWITCHBLADE”, WHICH HAS BEEN INTERPRETED BY THE COURTS TO MEAN ANY KNIFE WITH THE BLADE FOLDING INTO THE HANDLE, REGARDLESS OF SIZE, AND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE KNIFE HAS A LOCKING DEVICE.
NOTE: A police officer is presumed by the courts to know clearly established law. Because the legality of penknives is clearly established, an officer will not be shielded by qualified immunity in a federal civil rights action arising from a wrongful arrest under Maryland’s concealed weapons statute. Prepared by John F. Breads, Jr., Director of Legal Services, Local Government Insurance Trust
http://www.lgit.org/docs/RCR/rcr1204.pdf
 

Sonora Rebel

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When you can post somethin' from the MD State's Atty's Office, rather than some legaleagle.org's opinion... you have a case. "just 'cause I've been 'gone' from MD doesn't mean I dunno anyone who still lives there 'n puts up with that Socialist 'police state' mentality. (Major reason why I left.) I don[t agree with what they do... but I know what they'll do if given any opportunity.



No skin off my nose what the OP does... but I'm cautioning on the 'don't do that' side.
 

Novus Collectus

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Sonora Rebel wrote:
When you can post somethin' from the MD State's Atty's Office, rather than some legaleagle.org's opinion... you have a case. "just 'cause I've been 'gone' from MD doesn't mean I dunno anyone who still lives there 'n puts up with that Socialist 'police state' mentality. (Major reason why I left.) I don[t agree with what they do... but I know what they'll do if given any opportunity.



No skin off my nose what the OP does... but I'm cautioning on the 'don't do that' side.
I quoted the Federal Appeals court, what more do you need?????

Last I checked the State's Attorney does not supercede a federal appeals court or the Maryland Court of Appeals.
 

TheCreature

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I have a different question related to this topic (or several I suppose)

I have heard from different sources that there is a certain length up to which a penknife can be before it is no longer considered legal to carry but I'm not sure if I saw that in the state knife laws i read (http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/md.txt there) or if I simply over looked it. Is there, in fact, a certain length under which a penknife must be in order for it to be legal in the state of Maryland?

I purchased an OTF knife online a while back and having poorly studied the state knife laws prior to this purchase, I was under the impression that this was not considered a switchblade and was perfectly legal. However, having looked at the laws a little closer now, I no longer think this to be the case so, I opened up the knife and removed the spring inside. Now the knife is an OTF but it no longer opens without any effort on my part...Does this change it's legality?
 

Novus Collectus

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In MD a penknife is only a knife that folds. It does not matter if it is long or if it locks open, the only criteria is that the blade folds into the handle.

This is what the highest court in MD has determined:
On the face of the statute, there is no indication contradicting the view that a penknife is a penknife whether small or large, whether the blade is closed or open, whether the blade is locked open or unlocked, whether it is carried concealed or openly. Its character is not changed by being carried openly with the blade unfolded; its dangerous propensity is merely more easily realized. . . . We call attention to the fact that Mackall v. State, 283 Md. 100, 387 A.2d 762, was decided 13 July 1978. The General Assembly has had a dozen opportunities to correct our view of a "penknife" if it believed that our view was contrary to the legislative intent. Bacon, 586 A.2d at 22-23. The knife in Bacon had a five-inch blade. Id. at 20.
http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/011565.U.pdf

They determined in the Bacon case that a concealed penknife of any length with the blade locked open even was legal in MD.


The OTF blades that are not completely automatic are a gray area only in what they are, but basically almost any knife worn concealed that is not a "pen knife" (folding) is a violation as it is with any other weapon worn concealed that is not a handgun or pen knife (handguns are covered by another statute). The only problem with OTF switchblades in MD is the selling, buying, shipping or transferring of them. It is legal to posses switchblades in MD as long as they are not concealed.

I am not a lawyer.
 

TheCreature

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okay. i read the law closer on that page I was on before and I see that now. It only mentions the concealed carrying of a "dangerous weapon" and the sale of switchblades.
But, I guess since i already have one, I don't have to worry about that problem. I might as well put the spring back in the knife since it can be considered a violation with or without the spring if concealed.
 

Novus Collectus

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Be careful though because there is no state preemption for knives in MD and there may be local laws too. For instance, even possession in your home of a switchblade is illegal in the city of Baltimore (I think it is something like a few months maximimum), but in Prince George's county there is no mention IIRC and so open possession seems legal there.
 

MudCamper

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Well the codes and caselaw all seemed pretty clear to me so I carried my CRKT M21-14SF with me during my trip. Mostly was visiting Frederick on business. Seems like a nice place. Carry on MD. (And don't pay too much attention to Sonora Rebel. He trolls in the CA sub-forums as well.)
 
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