KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Some knives and multitools on your belt could end up costing you more than $15,000 in fines, starting April 1 in Germany.

Changes to a German law, set to take effect Tuesday, would prohibit one-handed spring knives as well as knives with blades longer than 12 centimeters (roughly 4.7 inches) “carried in public and ready for use,” according to German media reports.

Violators could be fined up to 10,000 euros.

Full details on changes to the German weapons law have yet to be finalized.

The law aims to bring about a decrease in knife-related crimes and to make confiscation of knives carried by “risk groups” easier, according a Kaiserslautern police newsletter.

Questions about the law e-mailed to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday went unanswered.

The change could have widespread impact on U.S. troops in Germany.

In recent years, multitools made by such companies as Gerber, Leatherman and SOG have become nearly universal pieces of equipment for troops.

U.S. Army Europe officials cautioned that they could not give a definitive answer on the effect of the new law until they see the final version on April 1.

However, many U.S. troops carry knives that could be prohibited by the more restrictive wording, according to a e-mail statement from Bruce Anderson, USAREUR spokesman.

“As we understand it, the maximum blade length of 12 centimeters only applies to the fixed-blade knives,” he stated.

“We believe that ‘fixed-blade’ includes all knives that lock when opened, including so-called ‘buck knives,’ Gerber and others. Most smaller Swiss Army knives do not have locking blades.”

Anderson said that USAREUR will need to see the amended sections of the weapons law before fully commenting.

The changes mention being able to carry such knives to pursue a profession and for specific purposes such as hunting, fishing, gardening or picnicking, according to Anderson’s statement.

“The key here is context,” he said.

“If U.S. personnel have a legitimate use for a knife, especially in the course of carrying out their duties, there should not be a problem.

Otherwise, it would be prudent to leave the knife at home until more information is available.”

German police around Kaiserslautern will learn more about changes to the law in their internal April newsletter, said Christiane Lautenschläger, Westpfalz police spokeswoman.

The newsletter states that “If someone is caught possessing such a knife illegally, the knife will be taken away and secured.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now