The knife law of Louisiana is sort of confusing and lacks clarity on the issue of ownership. We will need to assume that if the issue of ownership is not dealt with, then it is legal to own any knife unless it is specifically prohibited in the statutes. This article will give you an understanding of Louisiana knife laws in everyday English as we understand it. It will include quotes from the law as well as clarification from cases.
What is Legal/Illegal to Own
- It is legal to own Balisong knives, also called butterfly knives.
- It is legal to own dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other slim knives.
- It is legal to own disguised knives like belt knives.
- It is legal to own undetectable knives–knives that will not set off metal detectors.
- It is legal to own throwing stars and throwing knives.
- It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.
- It is legal to own switchblades and other automatic knives.
- It is ILLEGAL to conceal carry any automatic knife.
There aren’t any specific “banned” weapons as of August 1, 2018, but the statues [RS 14:95 4 (a) and (b)] focus on the issue of concealment.
Limits on Carry
- Any knife is legal for open or concealed carry as long as it is not an automatic knife.
What the Law Says
La. R.S. 14:95 (2013)
§ 14:95. Illegal carrying of weapons
A. Illegal carrying of weapons is:
(4)(a) The intentional concealment on one’s person of any switchblade knife, spring knife, or other knife or similar instrument having a blade which may be automatically unfolded or extended from a handle by the manipulation of a button, switch, latch, or similar contrivance located on the handle.
(b) The provisions of this Paragraph shall not apply to the following:
(i) Any knife that may be opened with one hand by manual pressure applied to the blade or any projection of the blade.
(ii) Any knife that may be opened by means of inertia produced by the hand, wrist, or other movement, provided the knife has either a detent or other structure that provides resistance that shall be overcome in opening or initiating the opening movement of the blade or a bias or spring load toward the closed position.
What this means is that it is illegal for you to conceal carry a switchblade or automatic knife. We can conclude by inference that it is legal to carry an automatic knife if it is obviously NOT concealed on your body.
This law also states that it is legal for an officer to carry a “rescue knife.” What is a rescue knife and what counts as a switchblade in Louisiana? The law remains unclear but some other documents can clear the matter for us. We know the blade length of a rescue knife cannot exceed 5 inches.
Balisong knives, also called butterfly knives, do not fall under this switchblade ban. The Attorney General of Louisiana in La. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 1999-332 stated that a Balisong knife is not a switchblade and is legal to own in Louisiana. He cites the case of State v. Robinson in 1990 where the court did not find that a balisong knife counts as a switchblade.
The AG also stated that a rescue knife is a tool that is able to fold, can be opened one-handed and is designed to cut seat belts. It goes on to say that if a knife has a button, but pressing the button does not automatically open the knife (for example, you still need to flick it open), it does not count as an automatic knife or switchblade and won’t be banned.
From this, we can conclude that the only banned knives in Louisiana are any knife that is automatically opened. The only individuals who can own automatic opening knives are police officers who use them as rescue knives.
Conclusion on Louisiana Knife Law
It is legal to own and carry any knife in Louisiana, but not legal to conceal carry an automatic switchblade or any other automatic knife. If the knife has a detent biased to the closing position and you must use inertia (ie. flick your wrist or fingers) to open it, you can conceal or open carry it. You can open and conceal any knife except an automatic knife. A knife used as a “rescue” knife may not have a blade exceeding 5 inches in length.
Note that this is not legal advice and there is no client-attorney relationship. There are also local and municipal laws that come into play so you much check those out as well. Consult with an attorney if you need more guidance.
RS 14:95 §95. Illegal carrying of weapons (Louisiana State Statutes 2018)
- Opinion No. 99-332. La. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 1999-332 (1999). Retrieved January 19, 2013, from LexisNexis Academic database.