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I keep seeing slightly different answers for some of these questions.

In summery of what I know already, please tell me if I am wrong.

You can own any knife of any length, with the following general exceptions.

  1. It is stereotypically related to gang violence. The auto/easy opening variety.
  2. It is designed to be concealed.
    (I do not really care about the specifics, as I personally am not interested in any knives like either of these)

You can carry around anything that is legal to own, but there is a length restriction for concealed knives, ?and you need a lawful reason to carry it, in both situations?.

Question 1: Self defence is not a lawful reason to carry a knife. But does this mean that if I end up defending myself (animal or human) that it is unlawful to use a knife, or do they just not want you carrying one around just for this reason, while pepper-spray would be better?

Question 2: I am rather leery of this "lawful reason clause". Is just general survival/cutting of things a good enough excuse?
It just does not really make sense to me. A knife is designed to cut things, and I carry one around to cut things with.

Question 3: So it is lawful to carry around, in full view, any length of blade? What is the restriction for concealed knives (I have heard numbers from 4" to 6")?

Question 4: What is classified as "carrying" exactly. Does that mean that I cannot transport a big knife in a backpack or bag? What is required for transporting big knives so that police will not call it concealing.

Specific situation. I really want to get a big-medium sized Kukri as a general survival knive that works well as a replacement hatchet. It is 100% a tool, but it looks like an intimidating sword. So this Kukri is not something that can really ever be carried around in plain view in public, it would attract too much attention. It is specifically related to the "how do I transport a large knife in public" question#4.

But I also like a smallish utility knife. I am thinking of getting a small Bowie within that range (4"-6"). So the exact length requirement is important.

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Why did this get downvoted? I understand that legal qusetions like this may not be appropriate for this site, but if you downvote, could you please provide an explanation? –  Jan Hlavacek Dec 9 '12 at 4:56
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Legal questions are on topic (cc @JanHlavacek), just keep in mind that we are not lawyers (and those here that are are not your lawyer) and this is not legal advice. You are still ultimately responsible for following whatever local laws you are subject to, regardless of what is (or isn't) said here. –  Kevin Dec 9 '12 at 5:10
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I have sorted formatting a bit, but this might be better if you just limit it to one question, that way it can be answered simply. In my opinion, this question really only needs the 2nd last paragraph to be useful and answerable. –  Rory Alsop Dec 9 '12 at 11:25
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I like the question concept in general. What one can carry legally is very important to most outdoorsmen (hikers, hunters, etc... we all carry a knife). –  Russell Steen Dec 9 '12 at 19:02
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Can I propose the OP turn this into a jeopardy question? Just cut out all of the answer and ask a simple, direct question. Then you can put your best shot in as an answer. You and anyone else can edit, improve, correct the answer or field their own answer. No need for Community Wiki - but I've seen this work well on other sites. To my taste this reads more like a blog entry, discussion point, AMIRITE? as opposed to a question. Too much "leading the witness" so to speak. –  bmike Dec 10 '12 at 0:03

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Canada does not really have any hard and fast rules, with regard to knives. Specifically, except for lists of a few specifically banned styles they do not even mention them. And something that must be kept at the top of your mind at all times is that a knife is not necessarily a weapon.

There are specific lists and descriptions, but suffice it to say you cannot own any gang knifes of knifes designed to be concealed. Specifically, knives that have easy/auto opening abilities are, for the most part, banned or a legal gray area.

The letter of the law pretty much allows you to carry any blade of any size anywhere, as long as you are not going to commit a crime with it, but if it could be considered a weapon it cannot be concealed. Not concealed is a matter of perspective as well; are you transporting your knife in your backpack, or are you concealing it; It depends on the circumstances and the perspective.

In real life cops do not like knives that are too big or too scary looking. If they think you having that knife is dangerous to the public good they will take it away from you, at the very least. I have heard numbers up to 6 inch as being the maximum allowed, but some cops will have a problem with far smaller knifes. It is all about where you are, what you look like, what you are doing, and does the knife look like a tool or a weapon.

Also it is important to know that, while I was completely unable to find any law pertaining to this, Canadian law enforcement do not allow the carrying of self defensive objects. If they believe your knife is for self defence, or you tell them it is, supposedly it will be taken away. The criminal code seems to specifically allow defensive weapons, but I am no law expert. If you happen to have a knife handy for a different reason (non self-defensive reason), and can prove that, you can use it when in danger of your life from an assailant.

Criminal Code, relevant quotations:

Prohibited Weapons

(a) a knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife.
88. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
89. (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition while the person is attending or is on the way to attend a public meeting.
90. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition concealed, unless the person is authorized under the Firearms Act to carry it concealed.

Weapon

“weapon” means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person

Carry

'88. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
89. (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition while the person is attending or is on the way to attend a public meeting.
90. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition concealed, unless the person is authorized under the Firearms Act to carry it concealed.

Use on another Person

'17. A person who commits an offence under compulsion by threats of immediate death or bodily harm from a person who is present when the offence is committed is excused for committing the offence if the person believes that the threats will be carried out and if the person is not a party to a conspiracy or association whereby the person is subject to compulsion, but this section does not apply where the offence that is committed is high treason or treason, murder, piracy, attempted murder, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm, aggravated sexual assault, forcible abduction, hostage taking, robbery, assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, unlawfully causing bodily harm, arson or an offence under sections 280 to 283 (abduction and detention of young persons).
34. (1) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself. Marginal note:Extent of justification
(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if
(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and
(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.

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This is all I can find on knife laws in Canada. Unfortunately it is impossible to actually learn Canadian law in its entirety for the average citizen. You can read all the relevant laws yourself, and I did, but there is nothing in place to teach you how it is actually applied (90% of the actual entire law, is unwritten in my opinion). –  Jonathon Wisnoski Dec 13 '12 at 21:12
    
You will see different enforcement of this on a Toronto streetcar or subway than at an Algonquin campsite - and rightly so - which is why a definitive answer isn't possible –  Kate Gregory Apr 22 at 21:14

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