Federal And State Laws
While federal and state laws cover different knife regulations, for the most part, you only need to pay attention to your state laws. These laws will govern the kinds of knives you can own and under what circumstances you can carry one in public.
In most states, you’re not allowed to carry knives in public unless you have a reasonable excuse and concrete proof of your excuse. These excuses can range from work purposes to genuine religious reasons, like the kirpan carried by Sikhs for example. Surprisingly, self-defence isn’t a lawful excuse for carrying a knife, so you can’t have one on you even for safety reasons.
Those caught with a knife in public without reason get a hefty penalty, and depending on your state, you’re looking at somewhere between a $AUD 1000 fine and a two-year prison sentence.
While states like NSW and Victoria follow weapons laws similar to the ones we just described, Western Australia has slightly stricter laws with a narrower list of lawful excuses.
Most states include these weapons in their prohibited weapons lists.
If the blade of your knife is stored in its handle like an Opinel folding knife, chances are some states will consider your knife to be a prohibited weapon. These include switchblades like a stiletto knife and even smaller folding knives like a clasp knife or a pen knife.
That said, some states won’t be as strict. In fact, Queensland allows citizens to carry small knives like a Swiss Army knife for food and other general utility purposes. But, even with these exceptions, you’d still be better off not carrying small folding knives in public, especially if you aren’t sure about your state’s laws.
Unlike the blurry lines of concealed knives, laws on fighting knives are a lot clearer. In most states, it’s highly illegal to carry combat knives like karambits or other bladed weapons like swords without concrete proof of your reasonable excuse.
Legally speaking, owning a knife is different from having one with you in public; you won’t be arrested for having knives in your kitchen or a letter opener in your home office. Some states even let you own prohibited weapons, provided you get permits for them. Just remember to check your local laws before buying more knives.
How Does Australia’s Knife Laws Compare To Other Countries?
Australia has some of the strictest knife regulations in the world. While countries like the US and UK let citizens carry small pocket knives with blades less than three inches long, Australian state laws don’t provide this kind of exception.
Australian police also have greater search powers compared to other police forces. In most states, the police don’t need a warrant to search your person if they have reason to believe you have a knife on you. In Victoria, the police don’t even need probable cause since they’re allowed to conduct random searches in certain public areas.
With knives being used in almost a quarter of the homicides and assaults from the last decade, it’s no surprise that most states have really strict knife-related laws. As long as knife attacks continue happening around the country, knife regulations will probably continue to be as strict as they are today.
Tough But Necessary
While the country’s knife laws can be a bit of a hassle for some and even a little scary for others, these laws ultimately help protect us. If you legitimately need to have a knife with you for work or other similar reasons, be sure to read up on your state’s laws to find out when you can have one with you.