Whenever we cover lock picking for survival we’re always asked, “is this legal?”. The answer? Maybe! Check if you’re in the clear with this infographic.
Lock picking kits are a popular prepper tool for many bug out bags, and a subject we’ve covered many times.
One of the great deterrents to the craft of lock picking is the feeling that you might be doing something wrong.
A feeling that society and the law look down upon you as criminal with malicious intents and unlawful desires.
To add to this fire, much of the internet has been flooded with misinformation regarding the legality of lock picks and, furthermore, its attribution to actual crime.
But in truth, these accusations are completely unwarranted.
U.S. Legality of Lock Picking Tools
A very high majority of US states allow the purchase and utilization of lock picks and current burglary statistics present that only 4% of home burglaries in the US are credited to some degree of lock manipulation.
However, this all being said, there are still laws and regulations that can apply when purchasing and owning a set of lock picks that anyone considering the craft should be aware of.
The goal of this article is to shed some degree of certainty on the ambiguity of lock picking laws and help put an end to the fear that stops so many from pursuing this amazing craft.
How The States See Lock Picking Tools
Owning and utilizing lock picking tools is generally viewed in one of two ways. They can either simply be beheld as tools, just as crowbar or hammer would be seen, or they can be regarded as tools of criminal intent.
State laws will typically be a direct reflection upon one of these two views. So let us better define each of these views so that we can better understand the laws that branch from them and how to act within these laws.
States that view lock picks as simple tools, with no attached intent or bias, generally have no direct laws restricting their ownership. They view lock picks just as they would a crowbar, hammer, or even simple pencil.
They are tools whose purpose is not predefined until actually used. These states typically must prove intent to commit a crime. So as long as you don’t intend to do anything wrong, you may own and utilize a lock pick set legally.
However, there are states that do attach intent and bias to the lock picks themselves and believe that anyone that possess them, outside of a registered locksmith, have the intentions to use them maliciously. This is what we call prima facie evidence.
Prima facie is when something is considered true upon first appearance. For our purposes, this could be better stated as “guilty until proven innocent.” So if you are caught in a state imposing prima facie, you could be accused with intent to commit a crime.
So now that we have a basic understanding of the two main views that states hold towards lock picking tools, let us look at what states hold what views.
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