Two years ago, Texas legalized the open carry of firearms. Now, the state has essentially done the same thing with knives. House Bill 1935, passed with little opposition in this year's legislature, officially took effect September 1. It updated the decades-old Texas knife law that critics claimed was confusing and ambiguous. In particular, HB 1935 eliminated the old law's vague category of "illegal knives," meaning Texans are now free to carry almost any knife almost anywhere.
There was bipartisan agreement that the old law was unclear and thus left many law-abiding Texans prone to search or arrest. "It banned certain things like swords without a definition, it banned the Bowie knife without a definition of what is a Bowie knife," says Todd Rathner, legislative director for the national organization Knife Rights, which pushed for HB 1935 in Austin. Rathner tells KTRH the new law is much clearer and easier to follow, but does include some location restrictions. "You can carry whatever knife you want almost anywhere you want as long as the blade is under five-and-a-half inches, and if it's over five-and-a-half inches then you can't carry it any place that you can't carry a firearm," he says. Some of those location restrictions for long knives include college campuses, jails, and certain bars and hospitals.
HB 1935 passed with strong bipartisan support in both chambers, but some opponents claimed it would make Texas more dangerous. Rathner rejects that criticism. "Kitchen knives are used in many more crimes than any kind of a knife you would carry out on the street, so that's just not going to be a problem," he says.