Before thinking about carrying a knife for self-defense in the streets, you need to consider the laws that govern the possession of certain weapons.
There are specific cases where carrying a knife in Missouri can be illegal, and you need to be fully aware of them if you want to avoid fines or even jail time.
An Overview Of Missouri Knife Laws
Missouri is fairly relaxed about its knife ownership laws. It is legal to own any type of knife in Missouri, and when it comes to other knives, the laws in Missouri are very clear. You can own a bowie knife, ballistic knife, dirk, dagger, butterfly knife, and any other type of knife that is legal to own.
However, when it comes to carrying knives in public, the law is a bit more restrictive. Generally speaking, you cannot carry any type of knife with a blade longer than four inches in public unless it is an ordinary pocket knife. Concealed carry is lawful except in specified locations. Automatic knives have been removed from the list of “prohibited weapons,” so you can now carry those as well. Stabbing knives such as stilettos, dirks, and daggers are also legal in Missouri.
What Defines a Knife Under Missouri’s State Law?
According to Missouri knife laws, knives are classified into two broad categories: ordinary pocket knives and bladed hand instruments.
Ordinary pocket knives are regular knives that have blades shorter than 4 inches. Similarly, bladed hand instruments are also treated as knives and yield to the same laws that control the carry of ordinary knives.
Legal to Own Knives in Missouri
In Missouri, you are permitted to own any type of knife, including bowies, daggers, ballistic knives, and butterfly knives. It is legal to openly carry a knife in public as long as the blade is less than 4 inches in length. However, concealed carry of any type of knife is prohibited except for an ordinary pocketknife. There are no laws that restrict or ban the ownership of certain types of knives within the state.
Legal to Carry Openly
In Missouri, it is legal to carry a knife openly. This includes any type of knife that is legal to own, such as bowies, ballistic knives, dirks, daggers, butterfly knives, and other knives. While a person is allowed to open carry any type of knife, the law does not permit the concealed carrying of any type of knife. The blade of any concealed carried knife must be less than four inches long. Furthermore, there are certain locations where it is prohibited to conceal carry any kind of knife.
What Size Knife Can You Carry in Missouri?
According to Missouri’s state law, a person may carry a knife in public only if its blade is less than 4 inches long.
Can You Carry an OTF Knife in Missouri?
Carrying an OTF knife in Missouri isn’t illegal. So you can carry one in your pocket without worrying about legal disputes, as long as the blade is shorter than 3 inches. You can also openly hold it in your hand or even sell it to someone else.
Until 2012, it was prohibited to carry an automatic knife in public, but the laws were later revised and changed.
Is It Legal to Carry a Concealed Knife in Missouri?
Carrying a concealed knife is 100% legal in Missouri, provided that it doesn’t exceed the maximum length requirements.
But what does “concealed” even mean? Well, under Missouri’s knife laws, a concealed knife is defined as any knife that’s not readily visible to the people around the person in possession of the knife.
In other words, the knife should be in your pocket or attached to your boot. You can carry it in any place you want, as long as it’s hidden.
Take the famous Thomas Rowe case, for example. Rowe was accused of illegally using a weapon when a knife was found in his pickup truck. However, the charges were dropped because the knife wasn’t easily recognizable as a weapon. Only the handle was visible, which wasn’t enough to identify it as a weapon.
Not to mention, the knife wasn’t easily accessible to Rowe, which was another reason why he wasn’t legally guilty. The knife must be within the person’s reach for unlawful claims to be made.
Read also: Michigan Knife Laws
However, there are some clearly defined public locations where concealed knives are strictly restricted. These include:
- Any police offices or stations, except in case of taking permission from the chief law enforcement officer in charge
- Within a 25 feet perimeter around polling locations during elections
- Adult or juvenile detentions, prisons, or correctional institutions
- Any courthouses that are exclusively occupied by the supreme court, circuit, or appellate
- Any meetings of the general assembly or the governing body of a unit of local government
- Any establishments that are dedicated to dispensing intoxicating liquor (unless approved by the establishment’s manager)
- Airport areas that require inspection
- Places where firearms are restricted under federal law
- Higher education universities and institutions
- Child-care facilities
- Riverboat gambling operations
- Amusement parks, specifically the gated areas
- Religious or worshipping places, unless with the consent of the minister or the religious organization’s representative
- Any private properties that have premises with firearm restrictions
- Any sports stadiums or arenas that have a seating capacity that exceeds 5000 spectators
- Public or private hospitals that are available for everyone
It’s also worth noting that some concealed knife laws don’t apply to certain process servers and government employees. However, they should be within their working hours, and their jobs should require them to carry concealed weapons.
Additionally, armed forces personnel and legal hunters have more freedom when it comes to carrying concealed weapons.
Is It Legal to Carry a Knife on Your Belt in Missouri?
It depends. If you carry a knife on your belt and anyone passing by is able to identify it as a knife, then it’s not considered concealed.
However, if you somehow manage to make the knife less visible, to the point that no one is able to notice that it’s a knife, then the knife is considered concealed, and you can legally carry it.
However, if it’s a switchblade and the blade is shorter than 3 inches, you don’t need to bother about this.
Type of Knives Allowed in Missouri
In Missouri, it is legal to own any type of knife. Fixed-blade knives are also allowed to be carried openly, and if the blade is less than 4 inches long, one may also carry such a knife concealed. Additionally, stabbing knives such as stilettos, dirks, and daggers are allowed as well.
Furthermore, Bowie knives and other massive knives that exceed 4 inches in length can be carried openly despite their size. The law in Missouri has been amended to remove automatic knives from the list of prohibited weapons which means they too are now legal to own and carry in the state.
Knives Not Allowed in Missouri
Concealed carry of certain types of knives is not allowed in Missouri. Automatic knives, such as switchblades, were previously banned, but reforms to the state’s firearms and weapons laws have made them legal to own and carry. Apart from this exception, no other type of knife is banned in the state.
However, concealed carry of a knife with a blade length exceeding four inches is prohibited. Other locations where concealed carry of knives are not allowed include schools and public buildings.
Self-Defense Laws in Missouri
Missouri’s “castle doctrine” allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense if they reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent death, serious bodily injury, or the commission of a forcible felony in the individual’s home, residence, or vehicle.
Stand Your Ground laws also apply in Missouri, which means that individuals have no duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. These laws apply to knives as well as firearms, so it’s important to understand the legal limits of self-defense in Missouri and to always use caution when carrying a knife for self-defense.
What the Law States
*571.030. Unlawful use of weapons — exceptions — penalties. — 1. A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons, except as otherwise provided by sections 571.101 to 571.121, if he or she knowingly:(1) Carries concealed upon or about his or her person a knife, a firearm, a blackjack or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use into any area where firearms are restricted under section 571.107
Frequently Asked Questions
Not longer than four (4) inches
Knives that are usually legal to carry almost anywhere include multi-tool devices, Swiss Army knives, utility knives, and knives with blades that are shorter than 2.5 inches.
California is known for having rather complicated weapon laws, and knives are no exception.
To recap, carrying a knife in Missouri isn’t wholly restricted. You can carry a knife for self-defense, as long as:
- The blade is shorter than 4 inches
- It’s not a location where carrying knives or firearms is explicitly prohibited
- The knife is concealed
- It’s a switchblade with a 3-inch or shorter blade
You may also carry other self-defense weapons like tasers and pepper sprays.
On a final note, remember that while specific laws in Missouri allow you to carry self-defense weapons like knives, the illegal or criminal use of such weapons would still get you charged.
To conclude, Missouri knife laws are relatively permissive, with most types of knives being legal to own and carry. However, it’s important to be aware of the few exceptions, such as automatic knives, dirks and daggers, and stilettos, which are illegal.
Additionally, concealed carry laws and self-defense laws must be considered when carrying a knife in Missouri. It’s always a good idea to stay informed and check local laws as well.
It’s important to note that while Missouri knife laws are relatively permissive, they are still subject to change, so it’s always best to stay informed and check for any updates. Additionally, if you’re ever in doubt about whether or not you’re in compliance with the law, consult with an attorney.