New Mexico knife laws leave a lot to be desired, as they can be quite vague and difficult to locate and tie together. This article will tell you what the statutes, as well as the case law, say about owning and carrying knives, and explain what is legal and what is not in easy to understand language.
What is Legal to Own
- It is legal to own a Bowie knife
- It is legal to own throwing stars or knives
- It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knives
- It is legal to own a stiletto
What is Illegal to Own
- It is illegal to own a switchblade
- It is illegal to own a Balisong, or butterfly knife
What the Law States
§ 30-7-2. Unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon
A. Unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon consists of carrying a concealed loaded firearm or any other type of deadly weapon anywhere, except in the following cases:
(1) in the person’s residence or on real property belonging to him as owner, lessee, tenant or licensee;
(2) in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance, for lawful protection of the person’s or another’s person or property;
(3) by a peace officer in accordance with the policies of his law enforcement agency who is certified pursuant to the Law Enforcement Training Act;
(4) by a peace officer in accordance with the policies of his law enforcement agency who is employed on a temporary basis by that agency and who has successfully completed a course of firearms instruction prescribed by the New Mexico law enforcement academy or provided by a certified firearms instructor who is employed on a permanent basis by a law enforcement agency; or
(5) by a person in possession of a valid concealed handgun license issued to him by the department of public safety pursuant to the provisions of the Concealed Handgun Carry Act…
The code allows for the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon if it is being carried by a peace officer, on property owned by the person carrying it, or in a private vehicle.
Deadly Weapon Defined
The definition of “deadly weapon” can be found in § 30-1-12, which provides that a deadly weapon is any firearm or weapon that is capable of producing death or great bodily harm. The statute then lists several specific types of weapons, including daggers, switchblade knives, bowie knives, poniards, butcher knives, and dirk knives. It also includes “all such weapons with which dangerous cuts can be given or with which dangerous thrusts can be inflicted” as well as any other weapons that can inflict dangerous wounds.
Definitions of Various Knives
New Mexico statute defines a switchblade knife as any knife with a blade that opens automatically by pressing a button, spring, or other device on the handle of the knife, or any knife with a blade that opens or falls into position by the force of gravity or by any outward or centrifugal thrust or movement (spinning the knife). In State v. Riddall, the New Mexico Court of Appeals found that a butterfly knife carried by Mr. Riddall, was within the definition of a switchblade, because both gravity and a centrifugal thrust opened the blade of the knife. In its decision, the Court said that it was of no legal significance that it required a combination of forces in order to operate the knife. It cited the California case of People v. Quattrone, wherein the Court there found that a knife with a spring-activated sheath, which retracted into the handle was an automatic knife because it was of no legal significance that the handle was pulled away from the blade, rather than the other way around. Neither the New Mexico code nor the case law offers a definition of a dirk, dagger, stiletto, or any other type of knife.
Restrictions on Carry
- It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk knife, poniard, or any type of dagger
- It is illegal to conceal carry a bowie knife
- It is illegal to conceal carry a switchblade
- It is illegal to conceal carry a Balisong or butterfly knife
- It is illegal to conceal carry a butcher knife
- It is illegal to conceal carry any weapon which can cause dangerous wounds
- It is legal to open carry any type of knife that is legal to own in New Mexico
Definition of Carrying a Concealed Weapon
The New Mexico legislature defined “carrying a deadly weapon” as being armed with a deadly weapon by having it on the person, or in close proximity thereto so that the weapon is readily accessible for use. The Court found, in Butler v. Rio Rancho Public School Board of Education, that a knife in a vehicle parked in a school parking lot, driven to school by defendant student, constituted carrying a concealed weapon because the weapon was in close proximity to the driver’s seat and defendant had ready access to the car during the day. The statutes however, do not provide a definition of ‘concealed’ and neither does the case law.
Conclusion on New Mexico Knife Law
It is illegal to own any type of automatic knife, such as a switchblade or butterfly knife, in New Mexico.
It is illegal to conceal carry dirk knives, poniards, any type of dagger, bowie knives, switchblades, butterfly knives, butcher knives, or any other knife, which can cause dangerous wounds.
In New Mexico, you may carry any legal knife openly or in your vehicle.
- N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-1 (2012)
- N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-2 (2012)
- N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-7-8 (2012)
- N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-1-12 (2012)
- State v. Riddall, 811 P.2d 576 (Ct. App. 1991)
- People v. Quattrone, 260 Cal. Rptr. 44 (1989)
- Butler v. Rio Rancho Pub. Sch. Bd. of Educ., 245 F. Supp. 2d 1203 (D.N.M. 2002)