Nevada knife statutes are long and wordy, but rarely clear or easy to understand, and much of the law regarding owning and carrying knives comes from case law. This article explores the language of the law and applicable case law, and then translates it all into plain English.
1. Except as otherwise provided in this section and NRS 202.355 and 202.3653 to 202.369, inclusive, a person within this State shall not:
(a) Manufacture or cause to be manufactured, or import into the State, or keep, offer or expose for sale, or give, lend or possess any knife which is made an integral part of a belt buckle or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a switchblade knife, blackjack, slungshot, billy, sand-club, sandbag or metal knuckles; ….
….(d) Carry concealed upon his or her person any:
(1) Explosive substance, other than ammunition or any components thereof;
(2) Dirk, dagger or machete;
(3) Pistol, revolver or other firearm, or other dangerous or deadly weapon; or
(4) Knife which is made an integral part of a belt buckle.
Nevada code defines switchblade knife as a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, or any other knife having the appearance of a pocketknife, with a blade 2 or more inches long that can be released automatically by pressing a button or other device on the handle of the knife. The Supreme Court of Nevada upheld this definition in Bradvica v. State, when it found that the knife Mr. Bradvica was carrying was not a switchblade because the blade was only 1 15/16th long. A dagger was defined in 1987, by the Nevada Supreme Court, in Huebner v. State, as a short weapon used for thrusting and stabbing and a dirk as a long straight-bladed dagger. When determining if a weapon is a dirk or a dagger, the Court in Bradvica v. State, said that one must look at whether the knife has hand guards and a blade that locks in place. The Bradvica Court found that a steak knife was not a dirk or dagger because it was not primarily designed as a weapon and did not have hand guards to keep a person from cutting themselves if using the knife to stab.
Because previous Nevada law, and Nevada’s current definition of a switchblade knife, mention the length of the blade, there have been many cases where a dispute has arisen over what exactly the “blade” of a knife is. In Bradvica v. State the Court found that the word “blade” should be construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning, which according to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, is the “cutting part of the instrument” or that which was customarily sharpened, and not the entire steel portion of the knife.
Nevada statute defines concealed carry as carrying a weapon upon a person, or in a container carried by the person, in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation. In 1987, the Court further clarified “concealed carry” in the case of Huebner v. State, when it found that a knife sheathed by what appeared to a ballpoint pen, was “concealed” for purposes of the concealed carry statutes.
The Nevada legislature makes the concealed carry of a “pistol, revolver or other firearm, or other dangerous or deadly weapon” illegal. However, it does not define dangerous or deadly weapon. In 2000, the Nevada Supreme Court, in Knight v. State, following the logic of the Missouri Supreme Court case of State v. Baldwin, said that the determination of whether an object is a dangerous or deadly weapon should be based on several factors.
These factors include why the defendant was carrying the instrument, the manner in which it is carried, the instrument itself, the particular person carrying it, and the circumstances under which he or she is found in possession of the weapon. In 2006, the United States District Court in Nevada followed this line of reasoning in U.S. v. Salinas, when it found that an ice pick, partially concealed in Ricardo Salinas’ shirt pocket while he stood in an alley near an apartment complex was a dangerous weapon within the meaning of the concealed carry code.
The Court stated that because the circumstances indicated that Mr. Salina was carrying the ice pick for a dangerous, not a harmless, purpose, it was illegal for him to carry it in a concealed manner.
A Nevada resident may apply to the Sheriff in his or her county for a concealed carry permit to conceal carry any type of knife except for a switchblade. The written application must describe the weapon to be carried and the reason or purpose for conceal carrying the weapon. Once issued, the permit allows the applicant to conceal carry the weapon described in any county within the state of Nevada.
Nevada law is straightforward on its definitions of various types of knives, using the common ordinary meanings of the words blade, dirk, dagger, and switchblade.
Under Nevada law, it is illegal to own a any knife that is made an integral part of a belt buckle or a switchblade. All other knives are legal to own in Nevada.
It is legal to open carry any type of knife, but it is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, dagger, machete, any knife that is illegal to own in Nevada, or any instrument which could be considered a dangerous or deadly weapon.
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202.265 (2013)
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202.350 (2013)
Huebner v. State, 731 P.2d 1330 (1987)
Knight v. State, 993 P.2d 67 (2000)
State v. Baldwin, 571 S.W.2d 236 (Mo. 1978)
Bradvica v. State, 760 P.2d 139 (1988)
U.S. v. Salinas, Case No. 2:05-cr-00153-BES-GWF (2006 U.S. Dist.)
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