If you thought carrying a gun was all it took for legal scrutiny, I have some very bad news for you. Just as there are several important rules and regulations that come with carrying a gun, so too do knives have their own unique set of rules.
While there are no public restrictions against carrying a knife in most public settings, the same is not true while on school property. Whether in or around a school building, if you are found carrying a knife, you may be in quite a bit of trouble.
Knife laws vary depending on the state in question and, as a result, may be a bit confusing. However, by and large, the general consensus is that, not only is carrying a knife on school grounds illegal, it can often be seen as a felony charge.
In this post I will go over the ramification for carrying a knife in school and how things change depending on if you are a minor, a parent, or a teacher. I will also specify the importance of intent and how it can dramatically determine the severity of the crime.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Size Matters After All
When it comes to talking about how the law regards knife ownership, the first and most important thing that must be discussed is the size of the knife.
So, what does the size of a knife have to do with anything? Well, there are what’s known as “location-restricted” knives. These knives are the large daggers and blades that are clearly designed for the express purpose of harming a human being or cutting through a large object. Hatchets, butcher knives, even steak knives all fall in the category of being considered dangerous weapons when carried outside of specific locations.
For example, while a hatchet is criminally illegal to carry in outside settings, that same hatchet can legally be used with impunity while in a restaurant or a butcher shop. It is these nuances that must be considered, especially when coming onto school grounds. In Texas, as an example, knives can be no greater than 5.5 inches before they are considered location-restricted.
On the other side of the fence, there are “non-location restricted” knives. These knives are generally much smaller and less threatening when compared to their location-restricted cousins. Largely consisting of pocketknives and some smaller switchblades, these knives are generally not regarded as illegal or criminal to carry around town or in regular settings.
Still, don’t let that fool you into thinking any knife can be taken anywhere.
It’s All About Location
While I talked about it briefly, the size of the knife is only important by virtue of where it is being used or carried. A switchblade can be quite dangerous, but it is only illegal based on the location it is used in. Just the same, knives that are regarded as being “location restricted” have a fairly small number of locations available to them.
In most states, a knife that is location restricted is prohibited from being carried into any type of school or educational institution. In fact, these knives are illegal at any school or any location where education or schooling takes place without written authorization prior. What state this is in, whether the school is public or private, who the person is carrying the knife is. None of these things matter or hold any bearing. As such, any person found with one of these knives on school grounds is committing a crime unless the school has given them written and confirmed authorization prior.
These aren’t the only places with this strict rule, however. Hospitals, airports, amusement parks, and sporting arenas all hold these large knives to the same level of scrutiny. If carried onto the premises without authorization, they are seen as criminal and highly illegal.
Based on the situation surrounding carrying the knife to any of these restricted locations, a person may suffer a penalty of prison time up to 10 years as well as potentially facing a $10,000 fine.
Who You Are Defines the Situation
Finally, particularly when it comes to school and education settings, the person carrying the knife also plays a factor.
Parents that bring a smaller, non-restricted, knife onto school property would likely be violating the school’s particular rules. Even if not carrying one of the larger, restricted knives, getting caught, as a parent, can lead to a banning of all volunteering and event attendances at the school.
While this won’t negatively impact the child (from an academic standpoint) the parent in question may be indefinitely barred from ever stepping onto school grounds. And while the initial interaction may not lead to any criminal charges, returning to the school again may be regarded as trespassing.
For teachers, bringing a knife (even a small one) will likely result in immediate termination. As bringing a knife of any size can be regarded as violating the terms of their employment, the school may decide to terminate their employment even if the teacher is tenured.
As with parents, while the initial situation may not result in suffering jail time, returning to the school after being barred from returning can result in criminal trespassing charges, offering up to a year in jail and over $1,000 in fines.
As with parents and teachers, a student that carries a knife, no matter the size, into school is subject to suspensions, negative marks against their permanent record, and even outright expulsion from school.
If a student is seen carrying a location-restricted knife onto school premises, if they aren’t under the supervision of an adult, parent, or legal guardian, this is considered a crime and can result in the child being arrested and sent to jail, a Juvenile Detention Center, or potentially even prison. This is in addition to the earlier mentioned strikes against their record from the school.
Taking a knife onto school grounds, regardless of the size or what classification it falls into, is a bad idea with a ton of very real long-term consequences that can follow a student well into adulthood. It is important that parents stress this importance with their children as much as possible. In many scenarios, even an accidental violation may carry these serious consequences.
As a good rule of thumb, always make a point of checking your and your child’s bags, purses, briefcases, and backpacks to ensure that anything that can be considered a knife is safely stored away.
Ultimately, the best option is to decide whether carrying a knife at all is something that is worth the risks.