If you are a resident of Florida and carry a knife for work, or a knife, pepper spray or stun gun for self-defense, you must know Florida’s laws on concealed and open carry of these weapons.

Knives, pepper spray, Tasers, and stun guns are common self-defense tools used across Florida. If you are considering carrying one of these, make sure you first know the legal restrictions and requirements to avoid breaking any laws.

Carrying a knife in Florida

Almost all knives in Florida are legal to own and open carry, including pocket knives, multi-tools, “butterfly” knives, belt knives, cane knives, bowie knives, throwing stars, and throwing knives.

The Florida Supreme Court defined a pocket knife as a “type of knife occurring frequently in the community which has a blade that folds into the handle and that can be carried in one’s pocket.”

Knives for work like box cutters and multi-tools can be carried concealed (in your pocket or clothing) or otherwise. Generally, if a blade is shorter than four inches, it is legal to carry it concealed without a license.

In Florida law, it is illegal to give a knife (besides a pocket knife) to anyone younger than 18. Violating this law could warrant first-degree misdemeanor charges.

Some Florida counties regulate knives slightly differently than the state law, so it’s important to check your local laws as well as state laws.

Are ballistic knives legal in Florida?

A ballistic knife is the only type that’s 100% illegal in Florida. Ballistic knives can fire a detachable blade a significant distance by deploying a trigger, lever, or switch. The difference between these knives and others is that the blade can become completely detached from the hilt or base.

Under Florida law, it is illegal to manufacture, display, sell, own, or possess any ballistic knife. If found with a ballistic knife, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Concealed carry of knives

Automatic knives, switchblades, and butterfly knives are legal to own in Florida. They can be legally carried in the open similar to other knives. If you want to concealed carry any automatic knife, regardless of the blade size, you must possess a concealed carry permit.

If a knife has a blade longer than four inches, a concealed carry weapons permit is required to carry it. If you carry a concealed knife that is significantly larger than four inches, you could be charged with a crime.

Unless otherwise authorized, you cannot carry a knife onto the following premises, regardless of concealed carry permit status:

  • Any place of public nuisance (aka anywhere illegal activity takes place, such as gambling or prostitution)
  • Any portion of an establishment licensed for the dispensation or consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Law enforcement stations, including police, sheriff, and Florida Highway Patrol stations
  • Detention facilities, prisons, and jails
  • Courthouses and courtrooms
  • Polling places and precincts
  • Government meetings, including county, school district, municipality, and special district meetings
  • Meetings of the Florida Legislature, including legislative committee hearings
  • School, college, and professional athletic events not related to firearms
  • School administration buildings
  • Elementary and secondary school facilities, including administration buildings
  • Colleges, universities, and area technical centers
  • Inside airport passenger terminal areas
  • Wherever federal law prohibits carrying a firearm

Pepper spray in Florida

Florida categorizes pepper spray as a “self-defense chemical spray,” a very distinct category from tear gas guns or other chemical weapons. Tear gas guns and other chemical weapons are entirely illegal for civilian ownership.

It is legal to buy, carry, or use pepper spray in Florida if the container holds no more than two ounces. Anyone may carry a concealed carry pepper spray in Florida without a permit, as long as it meets the size requirement and is used only for self-defense.

When considering whether to use pepper spray, keep in mind that aggressive or threatening use of a “self-defense chemical spray” not deemed self-defense could be regarded as assault or even aggravated assault, potentially resulting in fines or jail time.

Restrictions on pepper spray use

You may only use pepper spray for self-defense. No one is allowed to use pepper spray against a law enforcement officer under any circumstance. Even pointing a pepper spray canister at a police officer in a threatening way may be considered an illegal intent to discharge a weapon, which is punishable by law.

When considering whether to use pepper spray, keep in mind that aggressive or threatening use of a “self-defense chemical spray” not deemed self-defense could be regarded as assault or even aggravated assault, potentially resulting in fines or jail time.

Stun guns and Tasers

Stun guns and Tasers temporarily incapacitate a person with an electrical charge. A stun gun delivers a painful shock only where it makes contact with a person, while a Taser shoots darts from a distance to deliver an electrical current. Tasers are capable of actually disrupting a person’s neuromuscular system, depending on their strength.

You can only legally buy and carry non-lethal stun guns and Tasers in Florida without a license for self-defense purposes. Additionally, if a minor commits a crime that would have been a felony performed by an adult, they cannot carry a stun gun or Taser before their 24th birthday or until the court expunges their criminal record. Felons also may not possess stun guns or Tasers.

Under Florida law, both types of devices are considered “electric weapons.” Other electric weapons do require a concealed carry permit by Florida law.

No one under 16 years old may use a stun gun or Taser. Adults may face misdemeanor charges for allowing minors to use or possess electric weapons.

As with pepper spray, it is illegal to use a stun gun or Taser in a threatening way unless self-defense. If found guilty of brandishing an electric weapon, you could be convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor. The offense becomes a felony if near a school, under indictment, or using an electric weapon against a police officer.