Why are butterfly knives illegal?

Why is it illegal to use butterfly knives?

The butterfly knife, also known by the name balisongs, is a knife with two handles that rotate around the blade. Butterfly knives are not legal in certain countries and states for a variety of reasons.

They can be concealed easily, making them very popular with criminals. They are also easy to use and can inflict serious injuries. They are also often associated with violence and gangs, making them an easy target for law enforcement.

If you are considering carrying a knife with you, make sure to check the laws in your particular state. Some states make it illegal to possess, carry, or sell a butterfly knife. It’s just not worth taking the chance of being caught with one.

Popular among flipping knife enthusiasts is the Balisong or butterfly knife. These knives, also known as the Batangas or Balisong knives, have a different kind fame. They are illegal in many countries.

Why is the Butterfly knife illegal? Especially considering the pull they have on the marketplace

History and Uses of Butterfly Knives

Legends claim that the Butterfly knives are a product of the Philippines. The first mention of the Balisong knife was in 1710, in Le perett (a French book). The book describes Balisong knives as utility knives.

Further, the author suggested that the popularity of this blade dates back to 1500. Other sources suggest that the knife was used since 800 AD.

Balisong, a Filipino name, is derived from baling sungay. Translated, these words translate to broken horn. The name refers to the fact that the traditional Philippines used broken Horns to make balisong blades.

The Butterfly knives have been loved by the Philippines for centuries. These blades are still a major trade item, especially in Batangas.

Another theory about the origin of Balisong’s knife is that it came from France. According to the legend, the historic Batangas were used in France as a measuring instrument. The invention of the tool, pied de roi (or pied du roi) dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

However, this theory doesn’t explain how the knife got to the Philippines. However, it is believed that the knife was introduced to the Philippines by Spanish sailors who cruised through France.

Whatever theory, the Philippines are the ones that invented the knife. They are also the ones who invented the Balisong flipping technique.

It is interesting to see how the traditional knife looks similar to modern blades. The unique functions of the knives play a significant role in their design consistency.

Modern Butterfly knives come with a variety of blade designs. The blades are made from stainless instead of the old broken horns.

These are the only differences between the modern and traditional Balisong knives.

What is the difference between other knives and Butterfly knives?

The handles of butterfly knives can be rotatable, unlike other knives. When in use, the handles counter-rotate around the tang. They conceal the blade between them when folded.

The name butterfly knives is because you can hold the knife in your hands as if it were a butterfly. In knife competitions, the Balisong knives are very popular. Participants must twirl their knives in different styles to reach a goal.

The knife competition can be very dangerous, even though you might enjoy the captured swings. Sometimes, participants may cut their fingers in random ways.

Why is the Balisong knife illegal?

Here are some reasons why butterflies knives are banned in most countries.

  1. Concealment

Because they are easily concealable, butterfly knives are often illegal. Because they are small, the handle can easily be hidden in a pocket. The blade of a butterfly knife can often be hidden when it is closed making it difficult to identify for law enforcement.

Butterfly knives are a popular choice for criminals. They can inflict serious injuries and are very easy to use. These knives can be quickly and easily deployed because their blades are sharp. A butterfly knife’s handle can also be used to strike or punch an opponent.

  1. Easy deployment

The potential use of the Balisong as weapons is one of their greatest concerns. The knife can be drawn and pulled with great speed by a skilled person. This is the most dangerous characteristic of Butterfly knives. Criminals love the speed with which the knife can be deployed.

  1. Stigma

Many states believe that Balisong knives are associated with more crime. In the United States, there was an increase in importation of butterfly knives between 1981 and 1984.

These knives were imported from China, Japan, Korea, Japan, and Korea. There was an increase in knife-related crime due to the increased availability of knives on the market. To curb criminal activity, many jurisdictions have outlawed the sale of knives.

Some states restricted the public use of the knife. Some states made it illegal to buy or own the Balisong knives.

The knife-related criminal activities decreased also after the ban on Balisong’s blade. The perception of the Balisong blade as a weapon by lawmakers was boosted. The majority of states still enforce strict laws regarding their possession and use.

  1. Self-harm

The increase in emergency calls from 1981 to 1984 was another concern. These cases were mostly knife-related and self inflicted.

The knives were still relatively new on the market so many people became curious and began to flip knives for fun. Nevertheless, most users suffered injuries from the process of learning.

According to the lawmakers, the Butterfly knives should be banned. This would reduce self-harm. There is a possibility that some people will still use knives to harm themselves. They fear that they might get on the wrong side, so they avoid going to the hospital.

Even if the handle is closed, one bite can still cause severe burns to your skin. Flipping the blade from one handle is dangerous. You need to have a trainer before you are able to handle a Balisong on your own.

It is best to keep your butterfly knife away from the street. A simple warning wasn’t enough to stop the buyers from buying the knife. The second best option was to ban them.

  1. The film industry’s role

How we see things is affected by the film industry. The movie industry has contributed to the negative image of Balisong, regardless of how you look at the matter.

The blade is frequently used in films for criminal and cruel purposes. The film’s Hit-girl shows a vicious use of the knife by the Hit-girl. The knife in its true meaning is a sturdy, handy knife that can be used for many legal purposes.

In martial arts scenes, some movies feature butterfly knives. It is obvious that the Butterfly knife can be used in martial arts. Movie consumers often borrow tactics from movies to help them in their daily lives. These movie-lovers buy Butterfly knife and then use them as they are intended.

Are the butterfly knives considered illegal?

Different jurisdictions have different legal requirements regarding the legality of the Butterfly knives. Some jurisdictions classify Balisong knives either as gravity knives, switchblades or daggers.

These states make it illegal to use butterfly knives. Let’s take a look at which countries have Balisong knives that are illegal.

The United States of America

The United States of America has butterflies knives that are illegal in certain states. There are different degrees of illegality in each state. Some states make it illegal to possess knives. Some states allow ownership, but limit the use and transport of knives. These states ban the possession of butterflies knives.

  1. California

California law prohibits you from carrying any blade that is longer than 2 inches. However, you might find Balisong knives with blades up to 4 inches. Before you carry a butterfly knife, confirm its blade length.

It is legal to possess and keep the knife at your home, regardless of its length.

  1. Texas

The Butterfly knife is classified as a switchblade under Texas’s penal code, chapter 46. It is illegal to own, repair, sell, or manufacture the knife in Texas.

  1. Hawaii

It is illegal to carry, sell, or manufacture the Balisong knife in Hawaii State. You could spend 3-5 years prison for violating this law.

  1. Kansas

The Butterfly is an illegal Kansas species and falls under the gravity blades category.

  1. New York State

The state considers the Balisong knives gravity blades. This type of knife is strictly prohibited from possession or use.

  1. Utah

As long as the knife is not hidden, Butterfly knives are legal in Utah. The State laws make it illegal to cover the knife.

  1. Oregon

You can’t carry the Balisong knife concealed in Oregon, just like Utah.

  1. Wisconsin

The Balisong knife may be concealed or openly carried in Wisconsin. You may not carry the knife on your property.

You are prohibited from carrying the knife openly or concealed in public places. It is also illegal to carry such a knife on the property of others.

Butterflies in Federal States and Properties

States like Utah, Oregon and Wyoming allow you to have Butterfly knives. Even in these states, carrying a knife can be illegal. Except for federal agents, you can’t carry any knife on federal property. The federal law that governs the state can make you guilty of violating this rule.

  1. The Philippines

The Philippines consider any pocket knife a utility knife if it can be opened with one hand. The knife’s blade must not exceed one-half of a palm.

All knives that fall under the category of switchblade are allowed to be carried in the Philippines. To carry the knife, you might need to have a permit in certain areas of the Philippines. Even if you are using a knife for your daily activities, this applies.

  1. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom government has considered the Butterfly knives offensive since January 1989. These knives are therefore illegal in the UK.

The UK’s 1953 Prevention of Crime Act allows you to possess a knife within the country. However, it is illegal to carry a knife in public.

The Criminal Justice Act of 1988 contains more severe laws concerning the butterfly knife. It makes it illegal to possess, lend, import or sell the Butterfly knife in the UK. A balisong knife can also be confiscated by law upon importation. If the knife is older than 100 years old and is classified as antique, you can get an exemption from the law.

  1. Germany

German knife laws are among the most strict in the world. You can be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment if you are caught with a Butterfly knife. This knife law applies to the sale, purchase, transport, and manufacturing of the knife.

A fine of 10,000 pounds will be imposed on anyone who can prove that you attempted to buy or sell a knife in Germany. The knife will be confiscated by the law. You will also be subject to a knife possession penalty.

It’s better not to be in contact with the Butterfly knives of Germany.

  1. Switzerland

The Balisong knife is also banned in Switzerland. If you wish to be on the right side, the knife must not be owned, traded, or used anywhere near the Swiss border.

  1. Australia

In Australia, Balisong knives are classified under the flick, gravity, or switchblades category. These classifications are all illegal in Australia. You are prohibited from carrying the knife or using it unless there is a valid reason to do so.

You can only carry the knife if you are able to prove that you use it in your daily activities or possess a valid license.

  1. Canada

The Canadian Government considers the Butterfly blades to be gravity knives. These knives are therefore illegal and banned within Canada. Only those who have been granted an exemption from the laws can use the knife.

Are the Butterfly knives allowed in your country?

You can carry the Butterfly blades in other states of the United States. For a better understanding, you may want to read the knife laws of that state.

There are some restrictions that may concern you, such as whether you can carry concealed knives and the maximum length of the allowed blade.

Some residents of New Hampshire are prohibited from possessing butterfly knives. A knife may not be allowed to be carried if you have been convicted of any crime of violence against persons.

Keep in mind that knives are not allowed across all 50 states. If you want to keep knife laws in line, the Swiss Army knives are the best choice. These knives are used for utility and are legal in most US states.


Poland does not have any restrictions regarding the possession or carrying of the Balisong knife. The country is open to the importation and use of switchblades and gravity knives.

Knives are not considered weapons in Poland, unlike other countries. Within Poland, you can possess, trade, manufacture, or sell butterfly knives.


Lithuania is another country that allows butterfly knives to be legal. Knives are not allowed in Lithuania, as they are in Poland.

Knife laws and penalties

We have seen that knife laws vary from one state to the next. The penalties and offenses are therefore different in each state. Nevertheless, the following are some common knife laws violations:

  1. Hidden or concealing a knife that you are not allowed to have openly.
  2. Brandishing a knife: This includes wielding or aggressively drawing the knife during a fight.
  3. Violation of the restrictions on ownership laws in a specific state
  4. A knife can cause death to a victim

For the use of a deadly weapon, such as an illegal knife, in some states you could get an additional year’s sentence. This sentence is in addition to the one-year penalty for illegally possessing the knife.

Can I buy a butterfly knife online legally?

Some states ban the shipment and sale of butterfly knives. It may prove difficult to find an online retailer that sells the blades.

Amazon sells only dulled Balisong knives. These knives can be used for training purposes and are not as sharp than genuine knives.

You can find a genuine butterfly knife in an antique or legal knife shop like blade HQ. Before purchasing a knife, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your state’s knife laws.

Legal defenses for knife charges

To claim no violation is the best defense against charges of carrying weapons. This defense cannot be used if the knife is not within regulations.

You need to be familiar with the laws regarding knives in your state if you plan to carry one. If you are ever confronted by law enforcement authorities, this knowledge will be helpful.

It is possible to carry a prohibited knife and not realize it is illegal. This is a defense. The prosecutor is responsible for proving the charges. The prosecutor will have to prove that the accused knew the knife was theirs.

He must also show that the accused knew that the knife was illegal. The prosecutor might decide to drop the case if he cannot provide enough evidence.

If you agree to the open carry law, you may be exonerated of any charges for carrying a concealed weapon.

You may also be exempt from knife law charges if the police find the knife in an illegal search.

You might not be allowed to appear before the court of law if there was misconduct by the police during your arrest.


The Balisong knife can be as dangerous as it is cool. Regular maintenance is necessary. There are different knife laws in each state. Before you buy a knife, confirm that it is legal in your area. You should also ensure the right length blade for your knife.

If you plan to travel from your state with a knife, it is important to verify the laws of other states. You can feel confident that you are operating within the law’s legal parameters if all of these factors are met.

About the author

Hi, my name is Jaba Ray. I'm a knife expert and researcher. I am the creator of thesandwichknife.com, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I love people who need suitable steel or knife for their cook because I'm also a food lover. I work with a team of people who've always had a passion for knives and blades on this site.

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