Amerian flag with knife

Louisiana Knife Laws

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.

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.

Comments

  1. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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