Missouri Knife Laws (Updated 2021)

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.

What Defines as 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.

What Knives Are Illegal in Missouri?

In Missouri, openly carrying or concealing a knife with a 4 inch+ blade is illegal.

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.

See also: knives with horizontal sheath

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 any 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 the possession of concealed knives is strictly restricted. These include:

  • Any police offices or stations, except in case of taking permission of 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 was 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.

Are There Any Knife Laws for the Minors in Missouri?

No, the Missouri knife laws don’t have anything to say about minors carrying pocket knives. The same rules that apply to adults apply to minors, too.

What Self Defense Weapons Are Legal in Missouri

Other than concealed knives with blades shorter than 4 inches, here’s a list of all non-lethal self-defense weapons that you can carry in Missouri:

  • Pepper spray
  • Blackjacks
  • Batons
  • Tasers

Final Words

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.

It’s also worth noting that even if you have no intentions of using the knife illegally, someone else might if they manage to steal it from you. So, only carry a knife when it’s essential.

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