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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

What is Legal to Carry

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

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