Texas Knife Laws – A Summary of the 2017 Legislative Changes
On September 1, 2017, adults and minors can carry knives with a blade length less than 5.5 inches anywhere in the state of Texas.
Adults can carry knives with a blade length over 5.5 inches anywhere in the state of Texas, unless it is listed in “location-restricted” in the Texas Penal Code’s list of prohibited places. Under new Texas knife laws, no specific knife designs or operational designs are prohibited.
Additionally, minors cannot carry knives with a blade length over 5.5 inches at all, unless they are: 1) supervised by a parent/guardian, 2) carrying at their home, in their vehicle, or in their boat, or 3) transporting knives to their home, vehicle, or boat.
In short, the focus on the new Texas knife law is: 1) the age of the person carrying the knife, 2) whether a person is carrying a knife with a blade length over 5.5 inches, and 3) whether the person carrying the knife with a blade length over 5.5 inches is carrying it in certain prohibited locations.
List of Prohibited Locations:
- Schools, including universities and colleges
- Courts or offices of the court
- Polling places on a day votes are being cast or days when early voting occurs
- Secure areas of airports
- Within 1,000 feet of a designated site of execution on the date of an execution (typically, this will be the Huntsville Unit)
- School, interscholaistic, or professional sporting events
- Hospitals, nursing homes, and mental hospitals
- Amusement parks (see definition in the statutes section later in this article)
- Places of worship – churches and synagogues
Other Applicable Texas Knife Laws:
- Location-restricted knives cannot be sold or transferred to a minor without a parent or guardian’s consent – violation is a Class A misdemeanor (See Texas Penal Code Section 46.06)
- Exceptions for traveling and hunting where Section 46.02 does not apply (See Texas Penal Code Section 46.15)
- Sentencing enhancements for carrying in a school zone (See Texas Penal Code Section 46.11)
Relevant Statutes Pertaining to the New Texas Knife Laws
First, it is important to note that the new Texas knife laws in House Bill 1935 have not yet been codified in the Texas Penal Code. As a result, we must continue to reference the amended sections in the Penal Code in the final version of H.B. 1935 at this time.
Texas Penal Code Section 46.01(6) previously referenced “illegal knives.” However, due to updates from House Bill 1935, “illegal knife” is now replaced in Section 46.01(6) of the Texas Penal Code with “Location-Restricted knife,” which means “a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches.” All other references to daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, bowie knives, swords, and spears are removed from this section.
Texas Knife Laws – Unlawful Carrying of Weapons
Texas Penal Code Section 46.02 previously referenced “illegal knives” and indicated that possession of an “illegal knife” was a Class A misdemeanor if a person was found in possession of an “illegal knife” and the person was not: 1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or 2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.”
Now, Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code removes all references to “illegal knives” and adds Section 46.02(a-4), which states:
(a-4): A person commits an offense if the person:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a location-restricted knife;
- Is younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense; and
- Is not
- On the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control;
- Inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control; or
- Under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian of the person.
Furthermore, Section 46.02(d) of the Texas Penal Code was added to provide a Class C misdemeanor criminal penalty for (a-4).
Texas Knife Laws – Restricted Locations
Previously, Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code referenced “illegal knives.” This term was removed as a result of House Bill 1935 and Section 46.03(a-1) was added to address the prohibited locations for location-restricted knives:
(a-1): A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a location-restricted knife:
- On the premises of a business that has a permit or license issued under Chapter 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74, Alcoholic Beverage Code, if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, as determined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission under Section 104.06, Alcoholic Beverage Code;
- On the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the person is a participant in the event and a location-restricted knife is used in the event;
- On the premises of a correctional facility;
- On the premises of a hospital licensed under Chapter 241, Health and Safety Code, or on the premises of a nursing facility licensed under Chapter 242, Health and Safety Code, unless the person has written authorization of the hospital or nursing facility administration, as appropriate;
- On the premises of a mental hospital, as defined by Section 571.003, Health and Safety Code, unless the person has written authorization of the mental hospital administration;
- In an amusement park; or
- On the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.
Section 46.03(c)(2) is amended to indicate that “Amusement park” and “premises” have the same meanings assigned by Section 46.035 of the Texas Penal Code. This essentially means that to define “amusement park” and “premises,” we must look to Section 46.035.
“Amusement Park” is defined by Section 46.035(f)(1) of the Texas Penal Code as “a permanent indoor or outdoor facility or park where amusement rides are available for use by the public that is located in a county with a population of more than one million, encompasses at least 75 acres in surface area, is enclosed with access only through controlled entries, is open for operation more than 120 days in each calendar year, and has security guards on the premises at all times. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.”
“Premises” is defined by Section 46.035(f)(3) of the Texas Penal Code as meaning “a building or a portion of a building. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.”
Section 46.03(g) of the Texas Penal Code was added to clarify the criminal offenses for carrying a location-restricted knife in a prohibited place:
(g): Except as provided by Subsection (g-1), an offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
(g-1): If the weapon that is the subject of the offense is a location-restricted knife, an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed under Subsection (a-1).
Texas Knife Laws – Analysis of Section 46.03
What Section 46.03(g) essentially means is it is a Third Degree Felony to carry a location-restricted knife in any of the locations listed in 46.03(a-1). However, it is only a Class C misdemeanor if they carry in the following locations listed in Section 46.03:
(2) on the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or while early voting is in progress;
(3) on the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court, unless pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the court;
(4) on the premises of a racetrack;
(5) in or into a secured area of an airport
It is worth noting that Subsection (a-6) concerns being within 1,000 feet of a place of execution. Based on the construction of the new Section 46.03(g) and (g-1), it would appear that a person who carries a location-restricted knife within 1,000 feet of a place of execution may likely be subject to a Third Degree Felony due to the fact that the Texas execution chamber is located within the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the list of prohibited places for location-restricted knives is essentially identical to the locations prohibited for handgun licensees (License to Carry holders).
However, one odd point regarding churches and places of worship must be clarified. Under Section 46.035(i) of the Texas Penal Code, the penalty for carrying a gun in a place of worship does not apply if the LTC holder was not given effective notice pursuant to Section 30.06 and/or 30.07 (the Texas Concealed Carry and/or Open Carry signs). It is important to note that this notice requirement does not exist under the new legislation for people carrying a knife over 5.5 inches. Thus, all churches and places of worship are considered off limits for people carrying knives over 5.5 inches under current law and no notice is required. If you would like to read further on weapons and places of worship, please see our post on LTC Holders and Places of Worship.
In January 2018, a man was arrested by the Royce City police and jailed in Rockwall County for possession of a trench knife. Specifically, he was charged with a Class A misdemeanor relating to prohibited brass knuckles. The knife in question had a 6.75 inch blade and an aluminum handle that is commonly known as a “knuckle duster.” This type of knife is sometimes called a “trench knife.” As trench knives were not specifically exempted in the 2017 legislation, it appears that police departments are interpreting these knives to be prohibited from carrying on your person, regardless of the “location-restricted” provisions of the 2017 legislation.