Mississippi Knife Laws

Peter Stec
January 4, 2020
Amerian flag with knife
miss

Mississippi knife laws are fairly relaxed, but because they are found in several different places within the code, and contain cross references and legalese, they may be difficult to read and follow. This article translates the legal ease into plain English that anyone can understand.

What is Legal 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, gravity knives, and automatic knives (including OTF).
  • Mississippi does not restrict ownership of any type of knife for those over the age of eighteen, who have not been convicted of a felony.

What is Illegal to Own

  • It is illegal for a minor or a convicted felon to own a bowie knife
  • It is illegal for a minor or a convicted felon to own dirk knife
  • It is illegal for a minor or a convicted felon to own a butcher knife
  • It is illegal for a minor or a convicted felon to own a switchblade

Limits on Carry

  • It is illegal to carry concealed any bowie knife
  • It is illegal to carry concealed any dirk knife
  • It is illegal to carry concealed any butcher knife
  • It is illegal to carry concealed any switchblade or automatic knife
  • You may carry any knife concealed if it is concealed in your vehicle, and not on your person.
  • You may carry any knife concealed if you are participating in a sports activity where such a knife is legitimately used.
  • You can open carry any knife in Mississippi, unless you are a minor or a student on educational property.

What the Law States

Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-1. Deadly weapons; carrying while concealed; use or attempt to use; penalties

(1) ….Any person who carries, concealed in whole or in part, any bowie knife, dirk knife, butcher knife, switchblade knife, metallic knuckles, blackjack, slingshot, pistol, revolver, or any rifle with a barrel of less than sixteen (16) inches in length, or any shotgun with a barrel of less than eighteen (18) inches in length, machine gun or any fully automatic firearm or deadly weapon, or any muffler or silencer for any firearm, whether or not it is accompanied by a firearm, or uses or attempts to use against another person any imitation firearm, shall upon conviction be punished as follows:

(a) By a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both, in the discretion of the court, for the first conviction under this section.

(b) By a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00), and imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, for the second conviction under this section.

(c) By confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years, for the third or subsequent conviction under this section.

(d) By confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years for any person previously convicted of any felony who is convicted under this section.

(2) It shall not be a violation of this section for any person over the age of eighteen (18) years to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part within the confines of his own home or his place of business, or any real property associated with his home or business or within any motor vehicle.

(3) It shall not be a violation of this section for any person to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed in whole or in part if the possessor of the weapon is then engaged in a legitimate weapon-related sports activity or is going to or returning from such activity. For purposes of this subsection, “legitimate weapon-related sports activity” means hunting, fishing, target shooting or any other legal sports activity which normally involves the use of a firearm or other weapon.

Definition of Concealed Carry

In Martin v. State, the Supreme Court held that a weapon which was only partially concealed was considered concealed (Martin v. State, 93 Miss. 764 (1908)).

Definition of Various Knifes

The Mississippi code does not define dirk knife, bowie knife, or any other type of knife, except a “switchblade knife” which it defines as any knife with a blade that opens automatically, by releasing a spring or similar mechanism. In 2010, the Supreme Court in Summerall v. State, stated that absent a definition, a word had its ordinary and common meaning. It then defined “dirk knife” as a weapon with at least one sharpened edge, which tapers to a point, and is designed primarily for stabbing. In 2012, the Court of Appeals found, in Thomas v. State, that because it did not have a knife blade to examine, it could not determine whether the knife Thomas used to stab his victim was a butcher knife or a steak knife. It was therefore, it was up to the jury to decide, based on other evidence, what type of knife Thomas had used. The state of Mississippi has appealed this decision, however, and as of May 2013, the case is pending in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Students and Educational Property

It is a misdemeanor in Mississippi for a student, on educational property, to possess or carry any bowie knife, dirk knife, dagger, switchblade, or automatic knife, whether it is concealed or not. It is also a misdemeanor to encourage or to aid a minor to possess or carry such a knife on educational property.

Educational Property Defined

“Educational property” is defined by Mississippi law as any public or private school building, bus, campus, recreational area, or other property owned, used, or operated by any local school board, school, college or university board of trustees, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution. It also includes property of the Oakley Youth Development Center, operated by the Department of Human Services. It does not include any sixteenth section school land where no school building, school campus, recreational area, or athletic field is located.

Other Mississippi Knife Laws

Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-19 makes it illegal for a person carrying any knife that it is illegal to conceal carry, to exhibit the knife in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, except if in self-defense.

Under  Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-13, it is illegal to give any knife that it is illegal to carry concealed to a minor or an intoxicated person if you know the person to be a minor or intoxicated.

Conclusion on Mississippi Knife Law

It is legal to own any knife in Mississippi unless you are a minor or have been convicted of a felony. Minors and felons may not own bowie, dirk, butcher, or switchblade knives. You can open carry any knife in Mississippi. You may not conceal carry any bowie, dirk, butcher, or a switchblade knife unless it is concealed in your vehicle and not on your person, or you are fishing, hunting, or participating in some sporting activity in which it is common to use that type of knife.

Sources

Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-1 (2012)
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-5 (2012)
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-13 (2012)
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-15 (2012)
Miss. Code Ann. § 97-37-19 (2012)
Martin v. State, 93 Miss. 764 (1908)
Summerall v. State, 41 So. 3d 729 (Miss. Ct. App. 2010)

Updated January 2021

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you 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?

24 comments on “Mississippi Knife Laws”

  1. Dear Sir/Madam
    i understand knifes Law.
    how about swords?
    I am wondering if i can sell swords to over 18 years old in Mississippi ?
    Thank You

  2. How on earth can you carry an auto that is *not* concealed “in part”? Do I have to hang the thing on a lanyard from my neck? Oh, I know! Transparent pockets!

    Knives don’t hurt people–bad legislation hurts people 🙂

    1. Well, the point of the law is so you can’t carry a knife on you…as long as its in a car or a a bag then its fine.

  3. I love my holstered Buck locking blade knife, carry it and use it numerous times daily. I love my survival 8″blade knife too as well as my skinning knife and I pray our government never revokes our right to open carry these knives as well as handguns . I open carry for protection from coyotes cougars wild hogs and other critters that may attack me and my dogs when we walk trails and such,. God bless America and Mississippi.

  4. Does MS Concealed Weapon permit allow for concealed carry of knife or is it firearm only? Mine says “Firearm Permit”

  5. Tim, in MS, there is no state-wide limit on the length of the blade of a folding knife.

    JW, I couldn’t agree more with your comments. As for your question about the legal definition of a butcher knife or a dirk or a bowie, etc in MS, our State Code does not give a definition for any of those knife types. They only define “switchblade”. However, the definition of a “dirk” has been defined by the State Supreme court. Here is the relevant quote from earlier in this article:

    In 2010, the Supreme Court in Summerall v. State, stated that absent a definition, a word had its ordinary and common meaning. It then defined “dirk knife” as a weapon with at least one sharpened edge, which tapers to a point, and is designed primarily for stabbing.

    Hope some of that helps. Happy slicing and dicing.

    ben

  6. Can i have a knife with blade length exceeding 3 inches in my vehicle in a school parking lot? I make knives for people as a job and sell them off school property. These are fixed blade rebar handled knives that do not fit under any of the descriptions of “illegal to carry” knives in the article

  7. Current as of 2016 an additional subsection to: § 97-37-1. Deadly weapons; carrying while concealed; use or attempt to use; penalties; “concealed” defined

    (4) For the purposes of this section, “concealed” means hidden or obscured from common observation and shall not include any weapon listed in subsection (1) of this section, including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.

  8. Say I had a folding knife that doesn’t open automatically but is assisted (SOG Trident) would this be classified as a switchblade?

  9. I am a mildly [mentally]- millennial who, semi-recently acquired a tactical survival knife (a few years after being molested at my workplace). While do not use it on the job, because the blade is too long, I reserve it for self-defense while home alone. Also, considering recent political developments (e.g Surveillance, increased crime, etc), I felt obligated to arm myself (just in case some crooked federal agent darkens our doorstep without a warrant).

  10. I am a felon , my knife is a big knife 12/4’8 over all , I am coming from Alabama can I still own and carry a knife

  11. So what about a push knife ? Legal or illegal to carry – Concealed ? – Open ? The law is so vague that it leaves way too much interpretation to get you arrested. It’s really stupid because a firearm is more lethal at distance . With a knife the cuts can be used to discourage an attacker and you can determine just how lethal you need to be if the attacker has already closed on you. Can anyone truly answer the question on the Push Knife ? The Cold Steel SafeMaker looks like it would be very effective.

  12. I was told today that OTF and switch blade’s were legal to carry in Mississippi. Is there any updat on Mississippi law.

    1. Hey Stuart;
      Thanks for the message. As far as we can tell, it’s been legal for many years to carry an OTF/switchblade AS LONG AS IT’S NOT CONCEALED. That’s something we outline in the conclusion of our “Mississippi Knife Laws” overview post. If you want to conceal your OTF, then technically, that would be illegal.
      All the best,
      Pete

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