Are Katanas Legal In California? Unpacking The Laws And Restrictions

With their iconic curved blades, katanas stand out among sword types. But are these Japanese samurai swords legal to own and carry in California? Here’s a quick answer: Yes, katanas are generally legal to own in California if kept at home. However, carrying them in public is illegal in most cases without specific exemptions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down key laws and restrictions surrounding katanas in California. We’ll outline where they are prohibited, exceptions for open carry, and requirements for lawful ownership.

California Laws on Possession and Ownership

When it comes to owning and possessing katanas in California, there are specific laws and restrictions in place. It is important to understand these regulations to ensure compliance and avoid any legal issues.

No ban on ownership for decoration, collection

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ban on owning katanas in California for decoration or collection purposes. Individuals are allowed to possess these traditional Japanese swords as long as they are used for non-violent purposes.

This means that you can display a katana in your home or office without running afoul of the law.

Storage and display regulations

While there may not be a ban on ownership, it is essential to follow proper storage and display regulations for katanas. It is recommended to store them securely in a locked cabinet or display case to prevent unauthorized access.

This ensures the safety of those who may come into contact with the sword, especially if you have minors in your household.

Restrictions for minors

California law imposes restrictions on minors when it comes to owning or possessing katanas. Minors under the age of 18 are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing these swords. However, there are exceptions for educational or ceremonial purposes, provided they have the supervision of a responsible adult.

Ban on concealed carry without permit

It is important to note that carrying a katana in a concealed manner without a permit is illegal in California. This means that you cannot walk around in public with a hidden katana, as it falls under the category of a concealed weapon.

If you wish to transport your katana, it should be securely stored and not readily accessible.

For more information on the specific laws and regulations regarding katanas in California, it is advisable to consult the official California State Legislature website or seek legal advice from a professional.

Exceptions Allowing Open Carry

While California has strict laws and restrictions regarding the possession and carry of weapons, there are some exceptions that allow for the open carry of katanas under certain circumstances. These exceptions are outlined below:

Transporting to/from place of sale

If you are transporting a katana to or from a place of sale, you are generally allowed to openly carry it. This exception is in place to accommodate individuals who may be purchasing or selling katanas and need to transport them.

However, it is important to note that the weapon should be securely stored and not readily accessible during transportation.

While filming TV/movies with permit

In the entertainment industry, katanas are often used in TV shows and movies. If you are a professional actor or filmmaker with the necessary permits and licenses, you are allowed to openly carry a katana on set for the purpose of filming.

This exception ensures that the creative process is not hindered while maintaining safety and control on set.

Ceremonial military honor guards

In certain ceremonial military events, such as parades or memorial services, honor guards may be authorized to carry katanas as part of their uniform. These individuals undergo rigorous training and are entrusted with the responsibility of upholding tradition and paying respect to fallen heroes.

The open carry of katanas in such situations is carefully regulated and closely monitored.

Martial arts demonstrations

Katanas are an integral part of traditional Japanese martial arts, such as Kendo. During martial arts demonstrations or exhibitions, practitioners may be allowed to openly carry katanas as part of their performance.

It is important to note that these demonstrations are conducted in controlled environments under the supervision of trained instructors.

It is crucial to understand that while there are exceptions allowing the open carry of katanas in certain situations, these exceptions are subject to strict guidelines and regulations. It is always advisable to familiarize oneself with the specific laws and requirements of the state of California before openly carrying a katana.

What’s Prohibited

Concealed carry without permit

In California, it is illegal to carry a katana or any other concealed weapon without a proper permit. The state has strict regulations in place to ensure the safety of its residents. Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit not only violates the law but also puts individuals at risk of facing criminal charges and severe penalties.

It is important to note that each state may have its own specific laws and requirements regarding concealed carry permits, so it is crucial to familiarize oneself with the local regulations.

Brandishing in threatening manner

Brandishing a katana, or any other weapon, in a threatening manner is strictly prohibited in California. It is considered a criminal offense and can lead to serious consequences. The California Penal Code defines brandishing as displaying a weapon in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety.

This law is in place to maintain public safety and prevent potential harm or acts of violence.

Carry at public gatherings and protests

Carrying a katana at public gatherings and protests is generally prohibited in California. The state has laws in place to regulate weapons possession in such events to ensure public safety and prevent potential conflicts.

It is important to note that the specific regulations regarding carrying weapons at public gatherings may vary depending on the location and nature of the event. It is advisable to check with local authorities or law enforcement agencies for any specific guidelines or restrictions.

Possession on school grounds

It is illegal to possess a katana or any other weapon on school grounds in California. The state has strict laws that prohibit weapons on school property to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff.

Possessing a weapon on school grounds can lead to criminal charges and severe legal consequences. Schools have strict policies in place to ensure the safety of everyone within their premises, and any violation of these policies can result in serious disciplinary actions.

Carry within government buildings

Carrying a katana or any other weapon within government buildings is generally prohibited in California. Government buildings, such as courthouses and federal facilities, have strict security measures in place to ensure the safety of individuals within their premises.

It is important to comply with these regulations and follow the instructions of security personnel. Violating these rules can lead to legal consequences and may disrupt the functioning of government institutions.

Owning and Using Katanas Responsibly

Owning and using a katana is an exciting endeavor for martial arts enthusiasts and collectors alike. However, it’s important to approach it with responsibility and adhere to the laws and restrictions in place.

Here are some guidelines to ensure that you are owning and using katanas responsibly in California.

Store securely at home

When you own a katana, it’s crucial to store it securely at home to prevent accidents or unauthorized access. Consider investing in a sturdy and lockable display case or cabinet to keep your katana safely out of reach.

This not only ensures the safety of yourself and others but also helps protect your valuable weapon from damage or theft.

Transport in locked cases

Transporting a katana requires special attention to ensure both your safety and compliance with the law. It is important to transport your katana in a locked case or scabbard to prevent any accidental exposure or misuse.

By using a locked case, you not only secure your katana but also demonstrate your commitment to responsible ownership.

Practice at supervised martial arts classes

If you plan to use your katana for martial arts practice, it is highly recommended to join supervised martial arts classes or training sessions. These classes provide a controlled environment where you can learn proper techniques and safety precautions.

Additionally, practicing under the guidance of a qualified instructor helps minimize the risk of accidents and ensures that you are using your katana responsibly.

Get proper training in use and safety

Owning a katana comes with the responsibility of understanding how to handle it safely. Consider seeking proper training from certified instructors who can teach you the correct techniques and safety protocols.

This training not only enhances your skill but also ensures that you are aware of the potential risks and how to mitigate them.

Consider blunted blades for practice

For those who are new to handling a katana or practicing martial arts, using a blunted blade can be a safer option. Blunted blades are designed specifically for training purposes and reduce the risk of accidental injuries.

They allow you to practice your techniques without the worry of inflicting serious harm.

Remember, owning and using a katana is a serious responsibility. By following these guidelines and staying informed about the laws and restrictions in your area, you can enjoy your katana safely and responsibly.


In summary, katanas are legal to own and use in California under certain conditions, but carry is restricted in public places. Exceptions apply for transport, ceremonies, and demonstrations. With proper precautions and responsible use, katana enthusiasts can own these iconic blades while following state laws.

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