Alaska Knife Laws

alaska state seal
10 Best Utility Knives Video
10 Best Utility Knives Video

Alaska knife laws can be confusing. Here is what the knife laws mean in plain English. In short, Alaska has very, very knife friendly laws. You can own about anything you want. This is because, in Alaska, there are tons of huge animals like Bears that are very dangerous and the laws do not want you to be unable to defend yourself. Great huh? 

Definitions of Various Knives in Alaska

In State v. Weaver, the Court said that the term “gravity knife” has a readily ascertainable and consistent definition. It further stated that a gravity knife was commonly understood as a knife in which the blade opens, falls into place, or is ejected into position, by the force of gravity or by centrifugal force.

In 1990, in the case of State v. Strange, the Court held that butterfly knives and balisongs were not gravity knives. Also in 1990, it held in Jacobson v. State, that a butterfly knife was not a gravity knife or a switchblade, and therefore was not a prohibited weapon.

What is Legal/Illegal in Alaska

  • As of 2013, there are no clearly defined “illegal” or “forbidden” knives.  There are, however, some conditions in which a citizen can illegally own or carry a knife.

What is a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument in Alaska? 

A deadly weapon is “any firearm, or anything designed for and capable of causing death or serious physical injury, including a knife, an ax, a club, metal knuckles, or an explosive”.

Alaska statute defines dangerous instrument as “any deadly weapon or anything that, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

Reading the two definitions together makes it clear that a knife is a dangerous instrument, as a knife is specifically named as a deadly weapon, and a dangerous instruction is “any deadly weapon…”  However, note that a dangerous instrument must meet two requirements, first it must be a deadly weapon or anything else, and second it must be used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used.

Sale/Transport/Ownership and Misconduct in 4th Degree

As of 2013, it is legal to manufacture and sell switchblades and gravity knives, but it is not legal to sell such to anyone under the age of 18 without parental consent.

§ 11.61.210. states:

A person commits the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree if the person;

(4) manufactures, possesses, transports, sells, or transfers metal knuckles;

(5) sells or transfers a switchblade or a gravity knife to a person under 18 years of age without the prior written consent of the person’s parent or guardian;

AND…

Concealment and Misconduct in 5th Degree

Universal Citation: AK Stat § 11.61.220 (2015)

(a) A person commits the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree if the person;

(1) is 21 years of age or older and knowingly possesses a deadly weapon, other than an ordinary pocket knife or a defensive weapon,

(A) that is concealed on the person, and, when contacted by a peace officer, the person fails to

(i) immediately inform the peace officer of that possession; or

(ii) allow the peace officer to secure the deadly weapon, or fails to secure the weapon at the direction of the peace officer, during the duration of the contact;

(B) that is concealed on the person within the residence of another person unless the person has first obtained the express permission of an adult residing there to bring a concealed deadly weapon within the residence;

(3) being an unemancipated minor under 16 years of age possesses a firearm, switchblade, or gravity knife without the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor;

(6) is less than 21 years of age and knowingly possesses a deadly weapon, other than an ordinary pocket knife or a defensive weapon, that is concealed on the person.

So, if a police officer asks to see what you’re carrying, it’s against the law to conceal it from him/her if you’re any age (specifically if you’re carrying a deadly weapon).  It’s also illegal to conceal a “deadly weapon” if you’re under age 21 in any circumstance.

When Will the State Enforce the Law?

Typically, it is only once you have committed a crime with a “dangerous weapon” that the prosecution would tack on illegal possession or carry charges as a way to keep you off the street for a longer period of time.

For example, talking to someone who has a restraining order on you is illegal but talking to someone who has a restraining order on you while you have a knife that is not a pocketknife on you is a class C Felony. However, this makes sense doesn’t it? You should not be talking to that person in the first place, and certainly not while carrying a knife that could be used as a weapon.

When is it Illegal to Carry a Knife in Alaska

Besides the vague rulings on what kinds of knives are legal/illegal, Alaska has laws that makes certain behaviors illegal if carrying a knife.

  • It is illegal for people under 21 years of age to carry a concealed knife that is not a pocket knife.
  • It is illegal for k-12 school children to carry a knife to school.
  • It is illegal to carry a knife or have it in the car in the parking lot of a k-12 school without the approval of the principal.
  • It is illegal to talk to someone who has a restraining order on you with a non-pocket knife.
  • It is illegal to stalk or rob a place with a knife.
  • It is illegal to escape from jail/prison with a knife.
  • It is illegal to not tell a police officer that you have a concealed non-pocket knife on you when he/she stops you.
Knife Laws of the U.S.: Loopholes, Pitfalls & Secrets Paperback – Import, 1 November 2015

Conclusion on Alaska Knife Law

Alaska has very nice knife laws compared to other states. All readers from Alaska should enjoy this right!

This is not legal advice and there is no client-attorney relationship. Consult a real attorney in Alaska if you have more questions. Also, your city might have local laws about knives as well.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. We are also working to find a lawyer in Alaska who would want to do an interview about knife laws. If you want to do your own research on Alaska knife laws, check out the state code.

Sources

Alaska Stat. § 11.81.900 (2018)
Alaska Stat. § 11.61.210 (2018)
Liddicoat v. State, 268 P.3d 355, (Alaska Ct. App. 2011)
State v. Weaver, 736 P.2d 781 (Alaska Ct. App. 1987)
State v. Strange, 785 P.2d 563 (Alaska Ct. App. 1990)
Jacobson v. State, 786 P.2d 388 (Alaska Ct. App. 1990)


 

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26 thoughts on “Alaska Knife Laws”

  1. This is due for an update, we’ve had some very radical changes in favor of carry and possession of late. These were designed to match our firearm carry laws (both concealed and open carry are legal with no permit required), and include legalizing switchblades.

    Reply
  2. Guy is correct.

    As of Sept 19, 2013 Alaska law prempts regulation of knives just as it does firearms. Local governments cannot restrict them more tightly than State statute.

    Gravity knives and switchblades are now absolutely legal for 17 and up to import, possess, buy/sell, and carry. The only remaining special restriction for them is sale/provision to minors 16 and under. There is little basis for them to not be considered “ordinary pocket knives” given the changes to the law, but that will wait on the courts.

    There are some restrictions on students possessing knives of any kind in school, same as most places.

    Metal knuckles are the only remaing weapon criminalized out in our weapon statutes by name. Knives with brass knuckles, like trench knives, could get you in trouble based on the knucks I guess.

    Reply
    • Alaskan here! Actually weapons restrictions on college students are not state laws, but school policies. In general, dont bring anything to campus or it will be confiscated by the campus police (Not sarcasm, most campuses have in house police here. They are megadicks, unlike the usual city cops who just dont give a damn unless your committing a crime.)

      Reply
    • Alaskan here! Switchblades are legal to own as collectors items here. They may be functional, newly made, or antiques. You however may not carry them with the intent to use them, or use them for any task other than display purposes. This is only due to the fact that switchblades are Federaly Illegal. If a weapon isn’t illegal at the federal level, you can carry it and use it here and as long as no crime is begin committed no cop will ever stop or question you (Even if it is technically against state law, most cops do not give a rats ass until a crime is happening.). We’re a state where your concealed carry permit is your state ID or Driver’s license… Ironically we are more pro-arms than Texas. Probably because in most of our cities and towns bears are a real threat that actually happens at least once per-city/town each winter month.

      Reply
  3. Alaskan here. Yes. But as they are federaly illegal to carry, if you are stopped by the cops and they find them you will face charges. However the official rule is “No officer, these are art objects for display purposes.” will be enough for the cop to just let you go. In general unless you commit or committed a crime, the cops just don’t care.

    Hell, I’m allowed to carry a WWI Trench Knife around and that’s just an extra heavy nuckleduster with a dagger stuck to it. Even called in and asked the cops. First question was “Do you know self defense laws?” “Yeah.” “Okay. Go ahead, just remember that is a deadly weapon so if you have to use it and in court are found to have escalated the conflict you have committed a crime.” “So, I’m okay to carry and use it?” “Yep. Long as you only do so if you have to.” “Thanks sir.”

    You wont get any looks from carrying any given one handed melee tool up here from normal people ether. A handgun on your belt may get some looks but if it’s not a rifle or say a spear, no one cares. Even then it’s not illegal. I’ve carried around a halberd, war hammer, kite shield, and bastard sword, all functional (walking home from a HEMA tourny) and aside from a “Cool!” or three no one cared. Well, one officer asked me what I was up to but then just gave me a “carry on”.

    Reply
  4. Alaska law changed shortly after this was published (HB 33 signed into law on 6/20/2013). Switchblades and gravity knives are completely legal-https://www.akti.org/news/alaska-bill-would-better-define-gravity-and-switchblade-knives-and-enact-knife-preemption/.

    I recently purchased one at a large chain retailer (Sportsman’s Warehouse) and they are available at multiple reputable stores.

    Also, it has been affirmed by the Alaska Supreme Court that University of Alaska Regent’s Policy has the same effect of law on University property in the absence of expressly contravening state statute adopted by the Legislature.

    For instance, Alaska has long been an open carry firearm state. In 1994 (?), Alaska established its CCP program and the University Board of Regents adopted an express policy prohibiting possession of firearms on campuses by faculty, staff, students and the general public (with very narrow exceptions).

    Since then, Alaska has gone further by expanding conceal-carry to NOT require a permit for any resident otherwise legally eligible to do so. However, Regent’s policy still stands. In 2016, the Legislature made its strongest effort to expressly allow conceal-carry on University property, but the effort was not successful.

    As a note: I am not an attorney, however I am an Alaska resident who carries both a gravity knife and a concealed firearm regularly and work for the Alaska State Legislature. While this should not be construed as formal legal advice, the information provided is to the best of knowlede and research.

    Reply
  5. A clear list will help to understand what is illegal in this terirory and therefore it is worthwhile to think about it in advance in order not to break the law when you go there.

    Reply
    • I do know the wave feature is legal in a number of states (California being the biggest), but I can’t say for sure if it’s legal in exactly which other states. I will do more research shortly.

      Reply
  6. Is a game and fish warden considered a peace officer? To be on the safe side if they come to check our tags, I’ll probably mention I have a non-pocket knife in my day pack, but wonder if they’ll look at me like I’m crazy or like I’m complying with the law. I may just try to find a way to strap it to the outside of the pack and avoid concealment, but there’s no belt on my rain pants to use a drop rig like I do here in TX.

    Reply
    • Hey Richard;
      Thanks for the question. In most cases, if you carry a sword in public, you’ll probably be confronted sooner or later with a Police officer who won’t just let you walk around with it for no apparent reason. I know at medieval festivals in the U.S. the police do check that each sword is packed in a proper sheath and is carried in a car trunk from the festival right to the home of the owner. In other words, it’s not a good idea to carry a sword since it is seen by authorities as being a “dangerous weapon” which means you can’t have it in public.
      Ultimately a lawyer in Alaska would have to tell you officially, but it would be best in any case never to actually carry a sword around with you in public.
      J.

      Reply
  7. I have a walking stick with a blade in the shaft concealed I use it to walk is that against the law the blade is 12 inches . U have to in screw to use it

    Reply
  8. Hi, I as do many Alaskans carry 1 or more knives on my person every day pretty much everywhere. I was in a store today with a 5 1/2 inch knife on my side that was clearly visible. Store security came to me and asked me to cover it up…of course i inquired as to why and was told the store does not allow knives. In my head I LOL and wanted to blurt out “you know this is Alaska right?” but i behaved and pulled my shirt over it. As i left the store i looked at the doors and there were NO SIGNS stating the prohibition of knives/weapons/firearms etc. I have been searching the Alaska statutes and cant find anything that says a store can prohibit the carry of a knife. There are some found stating the prohibition in schools, some public government buildings, courts etc ( Sec. 29.35.145. Regulation of firearms and knives. (4) prohibiting the possession of firearms or knives in the restricted access area of municipal government buildings; the municipal assembly shall post notice of the prohibition against possession of firearms or knives at each entrance to the restricted access area.). Many years ago, the ccw laws had something about having to post a sign in a conspicuous place????? Can a store prohibit the carry of a knife? It is a tool after all!!! Defensive weapon too! Any help clarifying is appreciated because i would like to return to the store and share the info either way with them. Thank you.

    Reply

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