Rhode Island Knife Laws

Peter Stec
June 10, 2013
Seal of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

Rhode Island knife laws are short, but poorly worded and leave much to be desired in the way of definition. This article will give you the plain English version of what is legal and what is not legal when it comes to owning and carrying knives in Rhode Island.

What is Legal to Own

  • It is legal to own a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife
  • It is legal to own a stiletto
  • It is legal to own a sword cane
  • It is legal to own a concealed knife, such as in a belt buckle or lipstick
  • It is legal to own a Bowie knife
  • It is legal to own a Balisong, or butterfly knife
  • It is legal to own a switchblade

What is Illegal to Own

  • It is not illegal to own any type of knife in Rhode Island, so long as you do not intend to use it unlawfully against another.

Restrictions on Carry

  • It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, dagger, or other stabbing knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a stiletto
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a sword cane
  • It is illegal to conceal carry a bowie knife
  • It is illegal to conceal carry any knife with a blade more than 3 inches in length
  • It is legal to open carry any type of knife in Rhode Island

What the Law States

§ 11-47-42. Weapons other than firearms prohibited

(a) (1) No person shall carry or possess or attempt to use against another any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slingshot, billy, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stun-gun, or the so called “Kung-Fu” weapons.

(2) No person shall with intent to use unlawfully against another, carry or possess a crossbow, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, or other similar weapon designed to cut and stab another.

(3) No person shall wear or carry concealed upon his person, any of the above-mentioned instruments or weapons, or any razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade, or other weapon of like kind or description.

Definition of Blade

Rhode Island statute § 11-47-42 defines the blade of a knife as the part of the knife beginning at the end of the handle where the blade is attached down to the end of the blade.

Definition of Concealed Carry

Concealed carry means to wear or carry on your person a weapon that is not visible to others. A weapon does not need to be completely covered in order to be considered concealed.

Definition of Various Types of Knives

Neither the Rhode Island Code nor the case law offers any definition of any type of knife. Generally, when the legislature fails to define a word, the Court will give that word its ordinary meaning, which it usually finds in Webster’s Dictionary.

Penalty for Violating Conceal Carry Law

A violation of the conceal carry law may result in a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to one year, as well as confiscation of the weapon.

Conclusion on Rhode Island Knife Law

Is it legal to own any type of knife you chose in Rhode Island as long as you do not intend to use the knife against another person.

It is illegal to conceal carry a dirk, dagger, bowie knife, stiletto, sword cane, or any knife with a blade more than 3 inches in length.

It is legal to open carry any type of knife in Rhode Island.

Sources

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-42 (2012)

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?

28 comments on “Rhode Island Knife Laws”

  1. What about carrying in car?
    Say.. A knife you can legally open carry, but locked in your glovebox? Not on person, or loosely floating around the car.

  2. (1) So does that mean I can carry Ka-Bar knives as long as the can be seen?

    (2) Balisongs aka butterfly knives are legal to carry?

    (3) As long as the blade in less than 3 inches it can be legally concealed?

    Are these correct?
    Sorry just moved here and want to know what is up

  3. Is it illegal to open carry swords or machetes? It says any type of knife is legal but does that include swords and machetes?

  4. You can find and basically define the laws of Rhode island in the books defining the history of the Nazi regime . In a state where you can go to jail or shot on sight for defending you life in a life or death situation you are in a Nazi state. With that said Welcome to Nazi New England !
    All hail. Gina.

  5. It contradicts itself by first saying it is “illegal” to wear or conceal a knife greater than 3 inches, and then it’s says you can open carry any knife… which is it… the word “wear” means open carry.. ridiculous ?

    1. Thanks James;
      We do our best to inform, but as you might guess, we’re not lawyers and we have to tell you “officially” that we’re not allowed to give you legal advice. Only an attorney or paralegal in Rhode Island can tell you for sure!
      cheers,
      J.

    1. There still remains ambiguity in the carry law. Just because you interpret it one way, doesn’t mean another attorney will interpret it the other way. The Law is very poorly worded.

  6. You state in the conclusion that it’s legal to open carry any knife in RI. However, the law you cited clearly says it’s illegal to “wear or carry concealed” any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches.

    1. Hey Tim;
      Thanks for checking out knife Up. Here’s the deal; The law does in fact state that it is illegal to “wear or carry concealed any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches”. That sounds like a pretty straightforward statement which can be said another way – “It’s against the law to conceal carry any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches”. So if you have a knife with a 4-inch blade, you cannot CONCEAL carry it. The implication is that you CAN open carry it. I checked the websites of some of my competitors like AKTI, and they state the law in a very ambiguous way saying that it MAY be illegal to open carry some knives and MAY be illegal to conceal carry some knives. That is totally UN-HELPFUL! I’m not allowed to tell you “officially” what’s legal and what’s not. For that, I’m told I have to tell you to consult an attorney in Rhode Island.
      cheers,
      Pete

    2. Thanks for your reply. I’m stuck on the “wear or carry concealed”. I interpret that to mean I cannot wear a knife longer than 3 inches OR carry concealed a knife longer than 3 inches.

      1. …and I interpret that to mean:

        “It is illegal to wear a concealed knife, or to carry a concealed knife longer than 3 inches”.

        I see what you’re saying, but in my opinion, my meaning makes the most sense. However, the fact that you have that question is a good reason to contact an “official” source like a para-legal practitioner in your state, or at least an outdoor retailer for advice.
        cheers,
        Pete

  7. If I bought a sword cane and cut the blade down to 2 3/4” . And painted the case bright orange and used it for walking the neighborhood in rhode island, would it be legal? Thank you Frank

  8. As a Rhode Islander I know double edged knives are not legal in this state. I don’t see that mentioned in your breakdown of the Rhode Island knife laws.
    Just curious.

  9. So just to be clear, I can open cary a 5’ 4” greatsword but a 3.001” blade in your pocket is where we draw the line… makes sense I guess, in a democrap kinda way.

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