Quick Legal Facts
Not a factor.
Various described weapons having a blade of two or more inches are prohibited on school grounds, within a school safety zone, at school functions or on transportation furnished by the schools, such as a school bus.
Twelve (12) inches
At a Glance:
Any knife having a blade measuring 12 inches or less may be freely carried. Some knives with blades longer than 12 inches are weapons and may not be carried beyond one’s home, property, automobile, or place of business without a § 16-11-129 State of Georgia license or a weapon license issued by a state with Georgia reciprocity.
16-11-126. Possessing or carrying a handgun, long gun, or other weapon; license requirements; reciprocity; exceptions; penalties
16-11-127. Carrying a weapon in unauthorized locations
16-11-127.1. Weapons on school safety zones, school buildings or grounds or at school functions
16-11-129. License to weapons carry
16-11-130.2. Possession of weapon in airport restricted access areas; penalties
16-11-136. Possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of knives
16-7-21. Criminal trespass
There are no forbidden knives under Georgia law. Some knives with blades longer than 12 inches are subject statutory weapon restrictions.
Concealment is not an issue.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances:
A 2 inches blade length limitation applies to possession of knives on school grounds. See discussion below.
Yes, § 16-11-136. Possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of knives preempts local ordinances and provides for statewide uniform knife law. There is also a specific statewide preemption regarding weapons at airports per subpart (d) of § 16-11-130.2. Possession of weapon in airport restricted access areas; penalties.
Georgia knife law is largely dependent of three statutory definitions. § 16–11–125.1. Definitions contains definitions for “knife” and “weapon”:
As used in this part, the term:
. . .
(2) “Knife” means a cutting instrument designed for the purpose of offense and defense consisting of a blade that is greater than 12 inches in length which is fastened to a handle.
. . .
(5) “Weapon” means a knife or handgun.
There are three elements to the § 16–11–125.1 (2) definition of a knife. It is:
- A cutting instrument,
- Designed for the purpose of offense and defense, and
- Has a blade greater than 12 inches in length.
Note that the second listed element – “designed for the purpose of offense and defense” – does not contain a qualifying adverb such as “primarily.” As written and enacted it specifies designed for the purpose of offense and defense. It should not apply to knives designed for kitchen and food service tasks. It should also not apply to the category of implements referred to as machetes which are designed for agricultural purposes. It should also be noted that there is no circumstance of possession aspect which allows for elastic interpretation.
The wording of the above “knife” definition was enacted in 2010, although at that time the blade length limit was five (5) inches. The length was extended to 12 inches in 2018 with no other change in the wording.
If a cutting instrument meets the above criteria, it is considered a “weapon” for the purposes of Part 3, Article 4, Chapter 11 of the Georgia Crimes Code.
A significantly more restrictive definition of “weapon” applies to § 16-11-127.1. Weapons on school safety zones, school buildings or grounds or at school functions. This particular section covers schools and school grounds K through university as well as school buses and school function at the primary and secondary levels. The definition, as concerns cutting instruments, provides:
“Weapon” means and includes any pistol, revolver, or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind, or any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of two or more inches, straight-edge razor, razor blade, . . .This paragraph excludes any of these instruments used for classroom work authorized by the teacher.
Schools / School Functions
It is unlawful to have a “weapon” as defined in § 16-11-127.1 a “school safety zone” which is any real owned or leased to a school K through university. Essentially this means any knife must have a blade less than two (2) inches in length.
It is also unlawful to have such a “weapon” at any “school function” which is a school activity K through 12that takes place outside of a “school safety zone.”
Non-School Based Restrictions
A § 16-11-129 or reciprocal license allows knives that are weapons under the general definition to be carried in all locations except court, correctional, mental health, nuclear power, government, and polling activity facilities. Places of worship are also restricted locations but may allow an exception for license holders.
Private property owners may exclude and eject persons in possession of weapons under § 16-7-21. Criminal trespass.
Law Enforcement / Military
16-11-130. Exemptions list various federal and state officials who are exempt from the restrictions established by § 16-11-126 through 16-11-127.2. Peace officers and active-duty U.S. military members are included. A streamlined application process for a weapon license is provided for in § 16-11-129.
Most of the violations of Part 3 pertaining to carrying weapons are misdemeanors and as such are punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and not more than one (1) year of confinement. A violation of § 16-11-127.1. Weapons on school safety zones, school buildings or grounds or at school functions is a felony unless one has a weapon license in which case it is treated as a misdemeanor.
Updated July 8, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson