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Thread: Maryland Knife and Pepper Spray Laws

  1. #1
    Founder's Club Member MudCamper's Avatar
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    I will be traveling to Maryland on business soon.

    I would like to know if I can legally bring and carry my CRKT M21-14SF and/or my Kimber LifeAct Pepper Spray with me.

    Any insite, reference to legal recourse, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!



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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.

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    Founder's Club Member MudCamper's Avatar
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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".



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    Founder's Club Member MudCamper's Avatar
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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.





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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.

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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:
    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.
    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

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    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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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.

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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.

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    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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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.

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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.

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    Sonora Rebel wrote:

    That's a one-handed fat opening tactical knife... 'n that's a no-no.
    Do you have a law or court case to cite about this? Or is it just part of the old myth you believe?

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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.

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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

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    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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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    Paladin_Havegun_Willtravel wrote:
    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.
    Sounds like a lot of BS to me. I don't have trunks to begin with. A locked box? Or just out of reach of the driver? And unloaded? --- The is no valid law that can require me to have a 'trunk'---- there must be more to this.?

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    Tusker wrote:
    Paladin_Havegun_Willtravel wrote:
    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.
    Sounds like a lot of BS to me. I don't have trunks to begin with. A locked box? Or just out of reach of the driver? And unloaded? --- The is no valid law that can require me to have a 'trunk'---- there must be more to this.?
    U.S. CODE Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, § 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms
    Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

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    Well, if we DEFINE a separate compartment as being divided by seats in a pickup, and inaccessible by the driver, then that covers it. Not trying to play any games here, just trying to clarify this.

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    I agree with you totally...after rereading the laws several times.

    Being a knife dealer in maryland.

    I still think its a gray area on wether or not i can sell switchblades to the open public (anyone) for now we only sell to police officers and active military(federal law)

    i finally decided to purchase and carry a microtech ultratech OTF for my 2nd EDC.

    (As i consider knives tools not weapons!!)

    My first being an emerson cq7 wave.

    Another gray area is the assisted OTF S&W knives not sure where they lie??

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    Allowed to carry

    My father got me a buck knife that is like 11 inches long, and has a sheath..I am 19 years old and live in Baltimore county. Am i legally allowed to ware this outside? Because he says i can't and i would really like to openly carry this knife. For more reasons then just to "look cool" the people where i live are not to friendly and would rob you in a second and maybe having this on my hip could make a person think or two about robbing me.

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