TX Legislature Overhauls Criminal Restrictions for Carrying Knives: Bring Out Your Swords & Spears

Texas Legislature Overhauls Criminal Restrictions for Carrying Knives.

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While the open-carry gun debate dominated the 84th Texas Legislature, the 85th Legislature took up knife-carrying restrictions in the Lone Star State. Passing House Bill 1935, legislators dramatically changed the legal landscape for carrying knives in Texas. Texas Penal Code §46.01(6) formerly defined “illegal” knives, but H.B. 1935 replaced the term “illegal knife” with the term “location-restricted knife.”[1] A location-restricted knife is “a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches.”[2] The change makes any knife legal to openly carry if in an unrestricted area.

H.B. 1935 has received the most attention for the weapons it removed from §46.01(6), including a “hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown,” a “dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard,” a “bowie knife,” a “sword,” and a “spear.”[3] Such weaponry can now be openly carried.

The bill’s redesignation of “a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches” as a “location-restricted knife” means that such knives may be openly carried except in certain restricted areas. As summarized by the bill analysis, restricted locations include:

  • Schools and higher education premises and places where they sponsor an event,
  • Polling places and race parks,
  • Correctional institutions,
  • Businesses with alcohol permits,
  • Mental hospitals, medical hospitals, and nursing homes,
  • Amusement parks, and
  • Places of worship.[4]

The bill passed with little opposition with a vote of 131-1-1 in the House and 30-1 in the Senate.[5]

The new law has drawn some national media coverage. Time’s Abigail Abrams wrote, “Now [Texans] will be able to take many more weapons with them when they run errands, for example, or when acting out their favorite scenes from Game of Thrones in the local park.”[6] John Tufts wrote for USA Today “The phrase ‘everything’s bigger in Texas’ is about to become even more clear-cut”—pun intended presumably.[7] Jests aside, H.B. 1935’s statement of intent argues the law just represents good public policy –

H.B. 1935 provides a statewide law and clarifies to the public and to the police what and where knifes are allowed or prohibited and should prevent the over-criminalization of minorities who are more subject to harsher penalties than the general population.[8]

If you need to get up to speed on Texas knife-carrying law—or any of the over 750 changes made by the 85th Texas Legislature to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code—make O’Connor’s your first source for criminal law. O’Connor’s Texas Criminal Codes Plus 2017-2018  is now available to order—visit our online store to get your copy!

And don’t forget to order your up-to-date O’Connor’s Texas Crimes & Consequences 2017-2018.


[1] H.B. 1935, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017.

[2] Tex. Pen. Code §46.01(6). Texas Penal Code §46.01(7) defines “knife” as “any bladed hand instrument that is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person with the instrument.”

[3] H.B. 1935, §3, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017.

[4] House Cmte. on Criminal Justice, Bill Analysis, Tex. H.B. 1935, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017. For the precise statutory definitions, see Texas Penal Code §46.03(a-1).

[5] H.B. 1935, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017.

[6] Abigail Abrams, Texas Will Soon Let You Openly Carry a Sword (and Many Other Weapons), Time, July 13, 2017.

[7] John Tufts, En Garde! Texas Open Carry Sword Law Takes Effect Friday, USA Today, Sept. 1, 2017.

[8] House Cmte. on Criminal Justice, Bill Analysis, Tex. H.B. 1935, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017.

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