Maine Knife Laws

The knife laws in Maine are very vague. Because of that, the average person will have a hard time determining if a certain type of knife is legal or illegal. This article will give you a clear idea of what the law means. It includes excerpts from the law as well as explanations of the law with case precedence.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.
  • It is legal to own dirks, stilettos, daggers, and other slim knives.
  • It is legal to own throwing stars and throwing knives.
  • It is legal to own disguised knives like cane knives, belt knives, and lipstick knives.
  • It is legal to own switchblades, automatic knives, and balisong knives.

What is Legal to Carry

  • It is legal to carry any knife in the open.
  • It is illegal to carry dirks, stilettos or switchblades.

In the state of Maine, a person is not allowed to carry certain concealed weapons which include dirks, bowie knives, stilettos and other dangerous or deadly weapons. Citizens are not allowed to display such a knife in a threatening manner. Here’s the law;

Limits on Carry and Display

25 M.R.S. § 2001-A (2012)

§ 2001-A. Threatening display of or carrying concealed weapon

1. DISPLAY OR CARRYING PROHIBITED. A person may not, unless excepted by a provision of law:

A. Display in a threatening manner a firearm, slungshot, knuckles, bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person; or

B. Wear under the person’s clothes or conceal about the person’s person a firearm, slungshot, knuckles, bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.

2. EXCEPTIONS. The provisions of this section concerning the carrying of concealed weapons do not apply to:

[…]

C. Knives used to hunt, fish or trap as defined in Title 12, section 10001;

The law bans the concealed carry and threatening display of dirks, stilettos, and “other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.” Dirks and stilettos are slim, long knives that have a very sharp stabbing point. The law also states that it is 100% legal to conceal carry hunting, fishing, and trapping knives.

It is easy to understand what a dirk or a stiletto is and it is also easy to understand what a hunting, trapping, or fishing knife is but “other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person” is not very clear. What type of knife is a deadly weapon usually employed in the attack of others? How do you know if the knife you own is such a knife?

The case of State v. Jones in 2012 was a case that clarifies what knives are allowed to be carried concealed and what knives are not.

Jones was found walking down the street at 2am. After the police officer got out of his car to talk to him, Jones informs the officer that he is on probation, gives the officer his ID and allows the officer to search him. Note, at this point, Jones did not break any law and is obeying authority and following the terms of his probation.

The officer asks if Jones is carrying any weapons and he reports no. The officer pats down Jones to find two knives clipped to Jones’s pocket. The knives were folding knives with 3 inch, point tip blades. Jones’s shirt was covering the pocket, making it concealed. The officer arrested Jones for carrying a concealed weapon.

Jones was found guilty by the trial court because, the court stated, walking around at 2 am as a parolee with a knife that can cause serious damage is fitting of “other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.”

The court of appeals stated that the nature of the knife, not the situation that it was found, makes a knife “deadly or dangerous” and “usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.” Having a knife at 2 am does not make the knife dangerous or deadly. Also, a knife is a “deadly or dangerous” and “usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person” only if it can be proven that the knife was “designed for use against human beings or whether its primary function is to attack or defend a person.” If a knife was not designed for use against humans or its primary function is attack or defense, it can be carried concealed.

This is different from a lot of other states who have dangerous weapon clauses that take into account the nature of the weapon as well as the situation in which it was used. For example, in Iowa, a person was convicted of using a dangerous weapon when he smashed an ashtray on another person’s head. If that case took place in Maine, he would not have been guilty for that crime (but probably guilty of something else).

Ban on Automatic Knives

In 2015, Maine’s laws regarding manufacture/sale/distribution of/possession/carry of automatic knives were amended.  In Title 17-A, Chapter  43: WEAPONS, statute 17-A §1055. Possession or distribution of dangerous knives  was repealed.  That means it is legal to possess, manufacture, display, offer, sell, lend or give away any knife that has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or any knife having a blade that opens or falls or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward or centrifugal thrust or movement.

Possession or distribution of a dangerous knife is no longer a Class D crime.

Conclusion

In Maine, it is legal to own any knife.  If a knife has a utility purpose, it would not fall under the definition of dangerous knife based upon case precedence.

Note that there are also county laws that come into play with knife law so make sure you look up the law in your town. This is not legal advice and there is no client, lawyer relationship so talk to a lawyer if you need assistance.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comment box below.

References

  • State of Maine v. Jones. Docket No. And–11–475 (2012). Retrieved January 20, 2013, from findlaw.com.
  • State of Maine v. Michael M. Ken-00-649 (2001). Retrieved January 20, 2013, from courts.state.me.us.
  • State of New Mexico v. Riddell. 112 N.M. 78 (Ct.App. 1991). Retrieved January 20, 2013, from titleii.com.
  • Threatening display of or carrying concealed weapon. 25 M.R.S. 2001-A (2012). Retrieved January 20, 2013 from LexisNexis database.
  • Possession or distribution of dangerous knives. 17-A M.R.S. 1055 (2012). Retrieved January 20, 2013 from LexisNexis database.
Peter Stec
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Comments

  1. I would like to know as if 2018 are switch blades, butterfly knives, and brass knuckles legal to own or sell in the state of Maine

  2. I always carry an ESEE 5, concealed by a coat in colder weather, this seems to be legal in Maine as it is a SEER knife. Am I wrong???

  3. I have a Karambit Spring-Assisted folding knife with a 2 1/2 inch blade. The knife is 6″ in unfolded length. Is it Legal to conceal carry?

  4. If I hadn’t read the comments, I would have learned old and cancelled-out laws. Unless you keep your info up-to-date, your site will be useless.

  5. How about a sword cane? I have ankle and back problems that are getting worse and don’t want to be an easy target in the future.

  6. Strange, I bought a butterfly knife at an army surplus/airsoft store in Portland ME. Didn’t know they weren’t legal.

  7. I just bought a pilots survival knife “u.s. military” It was not listed as a fighting knife but survival. can i wear this on my belt deer hunting in maine? it is a fixed blade BTW.Thanks.jim

  8. Article needs updating – BALISONGS/AUTOMATICS/SWITCHBLADES NOW LEGAL IN MAINE AS OF LATE 2015

  9. I live in Maine .
    This site needs to update information for Maine.
    The blue one I was done away with and 2015, now you can have automatic knives and more as long as it’s not concealed .

  10. I have a Bowie knife and wondering if I can keep it open carry on my side in the sheath

  11. Would I be able to conceal a karambit knife? Or does it count as dangerous to people?

  12. October 15, 2015: Maine’ LD 264, “An Act To Restore the Right To Possess Certain Knives That Are Used by Many Citizens as Tools,” repealing the state’s ban on switchblade (automatic) knives is now in effect. Maine is the ninth state to allow switchblades since Knife Rights started it Sharper Future™ campaign six years ago.

  13. So. Since these laws are so vague. Is it legal to conceal carry a fixed blade knife with a blade length of 5 and 1/4 inches? With a recurve tanto combo edge? As well as a Kershaw cryo 2 with an assisted opening blade.

  14. §1055. Possession or distribution of dangerous knives

    The possession or distribution of dangerous knives section has been repealed as of Oct 2015 in Maine. This makes “butterfly” and “automatic” knives/blades legal to “open carry” as long as you don’t show/use them in a “threatening manner”. They are still illegal to conceal carry.

  15. is it legal to carry a sword on your hip not being concealed. But in its sheath. If not is there any type of permit or classes I can get to make it possible for me to carry a sword on my hip.

  16. Your article needs to be updated as of today. Today they passed the law making automatic laws, balisong, and gravity knives completely legal to own and carry. Check out the bangor daily news in Maine to learn more about it. It is also now legal to carry guns concealed without a concealed carry permit or training certificate. Maine just passed the constitutional carry law. 🙂 Thanks

  17. I have a buck 110 that is opened by pushing a button. I use it for yard work. I live in Maine an I carry it in a sheath on my belt. Now in 1016 is this knife legal to carry open or concealed ?

  18. On Oct. 15,2015 Maine repealed it’s knife laws against switchblades and Bali songs. They are now legal to own and carry. Also, on the same date it became legal to conceal carry a handgun without a permit. If you can legally own it , you can legally carry it. Life is good !

  19. Can I keep a karambit inside of my house in maine if I decide to buy one?

  20. I currently live in California, and I regularly open-carry my Buck Model 119. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this knife, it’s a fixed blade hunting knife with an overall length of about 10 inches and a blade length of 6 inches. I included an image of the knife below, for reference. I am possibly moving to Bangor, Maine soon, and I would like to know if I am still going to be able to carry it with me. I noticed the law specifies that a knife used for hunting is legal, but this knife could be considered intimidating and is similar in design to other knives that are specifically designed for use against humans, such as the Ka-Bar. Could one of you tell me if I’ll be allowed to carry it? And if I can, can I conceal carry? Or is it strictly open-carry only like California? Thanks.

    1. I live in Maine and you should get an update on the laws. Title 17-A, §1055: Possession or distribution of dangerous knives has been repealed. you can also concealed carry a firearm without a permit as of february of 2015. you must be 21 or order and not prohibited from owning them, of course. back to knives, you shouldn’t have an issue. hunting is big in maine. i realize your comment is old. how is it going? in general, Maine is much more lax on laws than cali so if it is legal there it should be legal here. you can even have automatic knives and carry them with a pocket clip as that is considered open carry.

  21. Is there any chance that fixed blade carry laws will be clarified and hopefully eased so that typical working knives do not put their owners at risk of prosecution or loss of property?

    ‘daggers dirks and stillettos’ is a fine bit description, but it doesn’t specifically protect non-hunters, and that’s not ok.

  22. So I just bought a knife (spring assist) and I’m wondering can I at least open carry it? It’s 13 in long btw if that matters

    1. yes you can open carry it. I live in Maine as well and i am about the same age as you are currently.

    2. Hi Abel;
      Like in most states, it all comes down to intent. What does it look like (to a police officer) that you’ll be doing with a 13-inch automatic weapon? Are you near a school or mall with the knife in your hand? You’ll get detained or charged if so. Are you on a camping trip in the wilderness? If so, you will almost certainly not receive any hassle at all. Those are my thoughts (not official legal advice).
      cheers,
      J.

    3. I live in Mn im coming east end of month what kind of knife can i carry legally for self protection in Maine?

  23. new Maine weapon law:

    http://www.kniferights.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=301&Itemid=1

    also, I found this:

    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

    Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §11212, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2005, c. 477, §9, is further amended to read:

    1. Prohibition. The following provisions apply to shooting from a motor vehicle or motorboat

    A. A person may not shoot while in or on a motor vehicle or motorboat or while in or on a trailer or other type of vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle except:

    (1) A person may hunt migratory waterfowl from a motorboat in accordance with federal regulations;

    (2) Paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may shoot from motor vehicles that are not in motion;

    (3) A person may shoot from a motorboat if that boat is not being propelled by its motor.; and

    (4) A person may shoot from a motor vehicle or motorboat in defense of life or property.

    B. is struck out of law
    C. A person may not possess a wild animal or wild bird taken in violation of paragraph A or B, except as otherwise provided in this Part.

    Sec. 2. 25 MRSA §2001-A, as amended by PL 2011, c. 691, Pt. A, §24, is repealed.

    Sec. 3. 25 MRSA §2001-B is enacted to read:

    §2001-B. Threatening display of dangerous weapon

    A person may not, unless excepted by a provision of law, display in a threatening manner a firearm, slungshot, knuckles, bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.

    Sec. 4. 25 MRSA §2004, sub-§2, as enacted by PL 2003, c. 452, Pt. N, §3 and affected by Pt. X, §2, is amended to read:

    2. Display of dangerous weapon. A person who violates section 2001‑B commits a
    Class D crime.

    Sec. 5. 25 MRSA §2004, sub-§3, as enacted by PL 2003, c. 452, Pt. N, §3 and affected by Pt. X, §2, is repealed.

    Sec. 6. 25 MRSA §2005, sub-§1, ¶B, as amended by PL 2003, c. 452, Pt. N, §4 and affected by Pt. X, §2, is repealed.

    summary

    This initiated bill:

    1.
    Amends Maine’s hunting laws to allow a person to possess a loaded firearm or crossbow while in or on a motor vehicle or trailer or other type of vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle.

    2.
    Amends the hunting laws to allow shooting from a motor vehicle or motorboat in defense of life or property. The bill does not amend Maine’s Criminal Code, which makes it unlawful to use deadly force (including the discharge of a firearm) in defense of personal property such as a motor vehicle or motorboat. It does not amend the Criminal Code provisions on use of deadly force in defense of a person.

    3.
    Repeals the requirement in existing law that a person have a valid concealed handgun permit in order to carry a concealed handgun.

    4.
    Amends existing law to allow persons to conceal under their clothes or about their person other dangerous or deadly weapons usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person, including firearms, a slungshot, brass knuckles, bowie knife, dirk or stiletto.

    5.
    Repeals existing law that authorizes the Chief of the State Police to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states for recognition in each state of the other state’s concealed handgun permits.

  24. As of April of this year, (2015) Maine became the 8th state to repeal the ban on switchblades. There’s more to it and again it’s not crystal clear wording but it does clearly repeal the precious ban.

    1. the new knife laws that took affect last year say that the ban on switchblades and other automatic knives were lifted. and the balisong was classed as a automatic knife, so yes. idk about open carry though.

    1. Yes you can, just some people might get scared of it on your neck I would advise to put it in your pocket.

  25. Can I carry around a lockblade knife (pocket knife, with a lock to keep blade out while in use)

    1. As long as the knife does not open automatically, you’re all set.

  26. Clayton, a bayonet would fall under the category of being “designed to harm a human being” so unfortunately, unless you’re licensed specifically in Maine to carry such a weapon, I would advise you against bringing it on this trip.

  27. I will be visiting Maine on my motorcycle in a couple weeks. I usually carry a bayonet in my saddlebag. I am a retired soldier, is this type of knife legal in Maine?

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