Amerian flag with knife

Louisiana Knife Laws

Louisiana Knife Laws can be a bit confusing and the statute 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.

References

  •  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.

Peter Stec

Hey Knife Up gang!  I'm Pete and I'm just a small man in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like Knifeup.com every day.  The difference is that I like to share what I know, and research what I don't totally know, so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice eh?
Peter Stec

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Comments

  1. First off, New Orleans is completely different. The city kind of has its own laws as far as guns/knives go.
    Second, a question….I have a Kershaw pocket knife. It is assisted opening, not automatic…but I’m curious, since it does have a pocket clip, does that mean it’s not concealed. I know that, as far as guns go, if you can see it and identify it as a gun, it’s not considered concealed…..so a gun in a holster outside of a shirt/jacket is open carry, and even a gun in a pocket(stupid way to carry btw), with the grip sticking out, would still not be considered concealed.

  2. Was wondering if the state of Louisiana allowed open/carry of swords ot short swords. Was wanting to keep a blade relatively the length of my forearm in between the center console of my car and the drivers side seat .but I dont see anything here discussing
    that.

  3. I just recently bought a switchblade but it has a pocket clip so does the clip classify as open carry? Where I live just about everybody has a knife on their pocket. I know that if it was just sitting in the bottom of my pocket that would be concealed, but I just wanted to know if the pocket clip makes it open carry since it can be seen that one is carrying a knife.

  4. Says nothing about swords and some places say swords aren’t “knives.” So does the length portion cover actual swords in open carry?

  5. I own a 4-4 1/2 inch karambit, could I legally carry this with me where ever if it in on my belt?

    1. Most karambits are fix blade or traditional pocket knives, so I would say it’s legal for concealed or open carry

  6. I have a ww1 bolo it has a 10 inch blade i want to know if its legal to open carry it i need it for work. Could i carry it in any parish in Louisiana

    1. There appears to be no specific restriction on your bolo, but as a matter of opinion, I’d say keep away from any public building or populated public area. While the law may allow it, any police officer can use their judgment to determine the appropriateness of having such a weapon in any given context. I’d play it safe if only to avoid suspicious stares from everyday citizens or police officers. That’s just my opinion which “officially” does not count for much, and you’d ultimately have to get your answer from a legal professional in the state of Lousiana.
      Thanks for commenting.
      J.

    2. you might need a shorter blade that is more easily concealed

  7. I kind of “walk the line”, and in my decade in NOLA, I’ve never had an issue, even in bars. I would watch length (just my opinion), because it just looks like you might be looking for trouble, and even if you aren’t, you might bring trouble to you. Bouncers and doormen don’t like trouble. My blade is spring assisted, which is technically illegal, but it isn’t a switchblade, and it isn’t longer than the length of my hand, even open ,and although it is spring assisted, you’d never tell unless you press the edge of the back of the blade. Even when I got it in the mail, it took me maybe 10 or 15 seconds to figure out how to use one finger to open it with the spring assistance. I clip it to the edge of my right front pocket in full view (concealment in plain sight), it doesn’t look like trouble. I’m confident I could take out a small group of assholes in a few seconds if I needed to, but I walk away from any and all arguments. Same attitude you should have if you’re carrying any weapon. It’s like defensive versus aggressive driving. Not a victim, but not looking to “make myself a victim” either. I guess I’m saying don’t be a douche and you won’t get treated like one. Always have a weapon and always have a guide if you aren’t from here. Period. Until very recently, we were the violent crime capital of the U.S., and we are still in the running. Head on a swivel. One other piece of advice, I’m a concealed carry permit holder, and I NEVER carry my piece after 8 or 9PM anywhere near downtown, even if I’m not going into a bar. There’s a cop on every corner near Bourbon, and they will shake you down randomly. True, if you don’t drink, it’s legal on the street, but you can’t go inside ANYWHERE, because they ALL serve alcohol. You will get harassed and breathalyzed all night long. I would tell you a couple of better places to go, but tourists are catching on to those places, and I don’t like that. See above: find a guide. Good luck and stay safe.

  8. Going to be visiting soon, didn’t see anything about blade size, ex. 3″ or 4″ blade. Any info on that would be great, thanks.

  9. I am a resident of Louisiana and am also a scuba diver. According to the knife laws I am not permitted to have a knife with a serrated edge. A knife is highly recommended (with a serrated edge) while diving as it is considered “safety equipment” as one may get tangled in fishing line, or nets. Just hoping the authorities would use common sense when they see it with my scuba gear in the event of a traffic stop on the way to a dive site.~Steve

    1. I do not see a reference to serrated blades in the knife law.

    2. For the same reason you give (needing a large, serrated knife for diving purposes), I’ve also read that if one wants to keep a baseball bat in one’s vehicle for self-defense, one should make sure to throw a baseball mitt or a baseball into the car as well. I don’t dive, or even fish, but I do carry a 9″ fillet knife in my trunk with a nonthreatening blue rubber handle. It would give one a nice bit of extra reach in case one’s car were to break down in a crime- or dog-ridden part of NOLA or Baton Rouge after dark, and would also simply come in handy at a barbecue.

  10. Legally, as explained to me by NOPD and substantiated here, any knife (that is not a switchblade/automatic style) is technically legal to carry, as long as it is not concealed.

    The important parts here being that, right to carry or not, due to its unconcealed state, any business owner or functionary has the right to refuse service while you’re wearing one. This will cover most stores, especially during peak and low hours, and virtually every bar that doesn’t explicitly know you by name.

    You may also run into officers who have a different interpretation of this law, who will sometimes detain you or attempt to confiscate your knife as “illegal”, in which case how far you decide to take this is up to you. Civil disobedience rarely makes for a good night, but neither does giving up a nice piece.

    TL;DR: All knives are legal, as long as it isn’t concealed or a switchblade, but that doesn’t mean you won’t deal with nonsense.

  11. Paragraph a, section one states that any instrumentality customarily used or intended for use as a dangerous weapon. Vague enough to say that a knife, which has been used in many a crime, which is a dangerous weapon, when concealed, is illegal. Just my interpretation, but it looks to me like concealing a knife is illegal

  12. I have a border patrol Bowie knife the blade is 11″ long. Can I carry this around with me, like in a mall or just down the street, as long as its not concealed?

  13. Is it legal to carry a ballisong on me at work for protection? (I know it’s not the most affective knife but nevertheless a weapon)

  14. Trey, just as long as ur knives are 4 inches and under ur good.

    Hunter, ur mossy oak knife is fine brother.

    and Richard, assisted knives are 100% fine as long as its 4 inches or less.

    For reference i carry a Spyderco Military which has a 4″ blade. But just remember this fellas, If you dont do anything illegal your knife wont come into question by cops in the first place.

  15. I own a mossy oak knife that i keeo for work…its blade is 3.75 inches but i didnt know in louisianna they count the whole blade…..its altogether 8 inches….against the law???

    1. I am leaving for New Orleans in a few hours. I lost my gun rights and carry a Cold Steel Ti-lite six. It conceals in my pocket with only the clip and half inch of handle exposed. My neighbor in Shreveport is a Caddo Parish Sherrifs deputy. He says there are no blade length laws in LA… I’m going to carry it half concealed in my pocket with it clipped to my belt… that’s about four inches of the 7 in. handle exposed. Does anyone know if this is ok?… in NOLA? It’s a monster and also my favorite defense blade… my wife bought it for me for Xmas and I’d end up behind bars if they tried to confiscate my blade… PLEASE HELP IF U KNOW WHAT I CAN DO! Bourbon st is a dangerous place and I want to be able to protect my wife and self.

    2. I know it’s probably too late, but I actually had an officer handle my cold steel voyager xl when in N.O. I was “carrying” a female friend back to the hotel on Bourbon St. and he did a wellness check. He told me himself that no officer enforces blade length laws on any reasonable person with a pocket clip knife. They dont give them a second look. If you give them problems they will add it to the book they throw at you. He toyed with it a sec and gave it back.

      Keep your nose clean while having fun and you’ll be fine. I am in the French Quarter at least once a month, always with a mega folder.

    3. For concealed carry in New Orleans, I’ve asked several NOPD officers over the last few years, and they’ve all shrugged and said you can conceal a knife if the blade is around 3″, though one officer said up to 3.5″. They didn’t seem to care too much, but I can guarantee a lawyer or judge would, so I make sure to carry a Tanto tip one (albeit a cheap Coast model) that’s exactly 3.0″ and is non-automatic & non-assisted. What sucks is that if you’re going to a music club in the (sometimes dangerous) French Quarter or (gentrified, quite safe) Warehouse District, you’ll probably get a patdown by the bouncers, especially at House Of Blues or Republic. So I keep a small folder on my keychain and they never seem to notice it. But it sucks that the more dangerous an area is, the less able one is to defend oneself. This of course holds true across most of the world.
      Despite the crime in the Quarter, I don’t worry too much about my safety, simply because there are so many police around… on foot, in cars, in trucks, on horseback, on bikes, etc. And there’s a large police station prominently located right on Rampart St. itself, which is the upper border of the Quarter. And a curfew for the teens, who seem to do most of the violent crime in NOLA. And lots of surveillance cameras if something does happen to you.

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