New Leatherman! Where can I bring it?
December 29, 2006 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Am I setting myself up for any trouble by tossing my new Leatherman tool in my bag and forgetting about it?

I got a Leatherman Wave for Christmas this year, and I'm pumped -- it just seems so useful, right? Anyway, I want to put it in my main messenger bag, which stays with me almost every moment I'm outside the house. But will I run into any problems having, essentially, a 4" knife on me at all times?

I don't go through a lot of X-ray checkpoints and I expect (hope) I'll remember to take it out before I fly, but is there anything else I should know? I guess part of me is thinking back to my public school days, when having anything like a knife would result in expulsion, local news coverage, etc.
posted by electric_counterpoint to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're really concerned, you could also carry a prepaid, self-addressed mailer with you. That way if you were ever in a situation where you had to ditch it, you could at least easily send it to yourself at home.
posted by rossination at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2006 [2 favorites]

I wear one on my belt every working day and often on the weekends. As long as I remember to pack it in checked luggage on flights, no problems for the most part.

Avoid having it on you when going to courthouses and sporting events though. I left it at home during jury duty, and I once had to stash mine in a potted plant outside Shea Stadium when I forgot to leave it at work before I went to a ballgame.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2006

If you don't fly often, you're probably not in for too much grief. Unless the knife is black or olive drab, and has a serrated edge, and you're a Muslim with a beard. Then it's OMG A TACTICAL MILITARY COMBAT KNIFE, NOT FOR SALE TO CIVILIANS, and they'll describe you in unkind adjectives on the evening news.

I carry a (shiny, happy, cute, orange) Leatherman Juice in my motorcycle gear, and actually got through security at LAX with it once. (I mailed it back to myself from my destination, though -- I like the knife, and didn't want to count on the PDX screeners being as incompetent as LAX's.)
posted by spacewrench at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2006

Best answer: You'll find that you'll not be allowed in almost any government building (courts, admin buildings, police departments, etc.) with the Leatherman in your pocket. I was kept out of a court building for having an allen wrench in my pocket, had to take it back to my car three blocks away or throw it away, cheap person that I am, I took it back to the car!

That said, I carry my swiss army knife 24/7, and deal with having to store it when I'm going into someplace that won't allow it.
posted by HuronBob at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2006

If you fly, and that's your carryon, pack that prestamped envelope (and make sure it has enough postage.)

You're not truly a member of the Wave Club until you cut your thumb closing a blade one-handed. ;)
posted by eriko at 10:01 AM on December 29, 2006

Common pocket knives tend to be pretty safe. I also carry mine on my belt at all times (this is mainly in Florida). It stays in the car when I have to go into a government/school building. It also stays in the car when I go to a theme park or any other non-govt. place that insists on checking bags. (I try to avoid these places on general principle, but since I get free theme park tickets, I have to deal with it in order to make my family happy.)

You may want to check your home state's knife laws for any special cases. I think one state doesn't allow knives in churches (not sure if it applies to common pocket knives); amusingly enough, my own church of employ nicks my Leatherman all the time for various emergency repairs.

If anything, you run the risk of your Wave being passed around from person to person once someone knows you have one (mine recently got passed throughout an entire orchestra pit as folks used the pilers and screwdriver to adjust some bad stands).
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2006

I've got a small leatherman on my keychain. Occasionally, I'll be patted down going into a club or concert and the bouncer will ask me to go stash it in my trunk. Otherwise it's not a problem.
posted by aneel at 11:26 AM on December 29, 2006

It's all about discretion. I have carried pocket knives since high school and have very few issues over this. General rules to follow in regards to pocket knifes:

Do not lend the knife to others. Most certainly, do NOT let it out of your sight.

Do not show off or /find/ uses for your knife. It is a tool and as such should be used only when appropriate.

Keep your knife sharp (my preference for a sharpening system is this Lansky. A dull knife is not safe.

I currently carry a Leatherman Juice s2 (minus the blade as it snapped when performing something that would have most definately angered my former scout leaders) and a Gerber Evo Jr (it would be my preference to carry a longer blade (3.5 inches is about my preference), but between places with laws against 3 inch blades and the fact that the general public reacts badly to large knifes I do not). I find the Juice s2 to be small enough to carry even when dressing up and the blade (when mine had one anyway) to be inoffensive enough that people didn't object to it. I do find a good number of people who object to the fact that I carry a knife that is just a knife (no tools), but I treat it as a tool, and anyone that vocalizes their objections, I can easily respond that it is but a tool, and clearly a useful one as it is being used.
posted by fief at 1:00 PM on December 29, 2006

I carried my gerber through the metal detectors at the Empire State Building. The alarm went off, and thoughts of me losing my multi-tool ran through my head. Much to my surprise, they took it, gave me a tag, and put it in a locked bin. When I came back to claim it later I noticed that there were knives with blades twice as long as mine, and guns too! I wouldn't sweat it too much.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 1:05 PM on December 29, 2006

"...tossing my new Leatherman tool in my bag and forgetting about it." The trouble isn't in the tossing, but in the forgetting.

I bailed my uncle out of jail about this time last year after he was arrested for having a knife in his carryon bag. He was returning from a hunting trip in Texas and had declared and properly packed his guns. Unfortunately, he forgot about the hunting knife in his bag. He was surprised when airport security found it, and then made the mistake of arguing that it was "no big deal." He ended up spending about 18 hours in jail and several thousand dollars in legal fees.

Your Leatherman is different than a hunting knife, but I'd still be cautious. Keep it in your bag, but don't forget about it. If you find yourself in a situation where it's likely to be discovered by law enforcement types, self disclose and have a way to get it home without you.
posted by apocry_phil at 1:27 PM on December 29, 2006

I think it's MORE likely to get you into trouble eventually if you AREN'T used to being aware of it. My husband forgot to put his in our checked luggage on our way home from our Hawaii honeymoon, which caused some problems with our check-in, and it would have been a REAL hassle had we been at an airport busier/nervouser/uptighter than the airport on Kauai. They got us a box so he could check the knife as luggage; thay were very nice.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 1:28 PM on December 29, 2006

I used to keep a nice pocketknife in my travel bag of toiletries, along with my razors and other personal items; I never had a problem until a few years ago when I was flying to Europe. I had everything in my checked baggage, so I was fine on the plane, but when I went to get onto the Chunnel train in London (carrying all my luggage, since there's no checked bags) they X-rayed the bags again, and confiscated it. (No explanation of how I was going to use my 2" pocketknife to possibly hijack or otherwise damage a train...but they took it anyway.)

The problem is just anticipating the many places that they're putting in so-called "security" checkpoints. If you're going to carry a knife, or any other sort of bladed instrument -- even very innoculous-looking ones! -- you need to be aware that you have it with you all the time. A pre-posted envelope so you can send it home is a must. It doesn't show any signs of getting better, either: I suspect in not too many years, you won't be able to go into a Post Office without going through a metal detector and an X-ray machine.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:36 PM on December 29, 2006

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