Alaska Knife Laws

alaska state seal

Alaska knife laws can be confusing. Here is what the knife laws mean in plain English. In short, Alaska has very, very knife friendly laws. You can own about anything you want. This is because, in Alaska, there are tons of huge animals like Bears that are very dangerous and the laws do not want you to be unable to defend yourself. Great huh? Note that Alaska’s knife laws were rewritten in 2013 so entries older than this on the Internet are out of date.

Definitions of Various Knives in Alaska

In State v. Weaver, the Court said that the term “gravity knife” is had a readily ascertainable and consistent definition. It further stated that a gravity knife was commonly understood as a knife in which the blade opens, falls into place, or is ejected into position, by the force of gravity or by centrifugal force.

In 1990, in the case of State v. Strange, the Court held that butterfly knives and balisongs were not gravity knives. Also in 1990, it held in Jacobson v. State, that a butterfly knife was not a gravity knife or a switchblade, and therefore was not a prohibited weapon.

What is Legal/Illegal in Alaska

  • Pocket knives are legal.
  • Balisongs are in a legal gray area.
  • Stilettos and dirks are in a legal gray area.
  • Out the front knives are in a legal gray area.
  • Bowie knives are in a legal gray area.
  • Large knives are in a legal gray area.
  • Gravity knives are illegal.
  • Switchblades are illegal.

Above is a brief review of Alaska knife law. The law specifically states that pocketknives are legal to both own and conceal carry. It also states that gravity knives and switchblades are illegal to own. Other types of knives are not outright banned, but may fall under the “deadly weapons” or “dangerous instrument” category. Alaska’s definition of a deadly weapon is a bit vague and depends a lot on court precedence as well as how crafty your lawyer is. For instance in Liddicoat v. State, the Court held that a steak knife was a deadly weapon. It’s definition of a dangerous instrument is not much clearer, and much of the law rests on Court decisions, not the statutes.

What is a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument in Alaska? 

A deadly weapon is “any firearm, or anything designed for and capable of causing death or serious physical injury, including a knife, an axe, a club, metal knuckles, or an explosive”.

Alaska statute defines dangerous instrument as “any deadly weapon or anything that, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

Reading the two definitions together makes it clear that a knife is a dangerous instrument, as a knife is specifically named as a deadly weapon, and a dangerous instruction is “any deadly weapon…”  However, note that a dangerous instrument must meet two requirements, first it must be a deadly weapon or anything else, and second it must be used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used.

How Should I Treat the Legal Gray Area?

Unless you are buying a switchblade or gravy knife, you are in the clear. A Balisong knife is not a gravity knife or a switchblade under Alaska law. You can buy whatever you want outside of that category but there are reports online where certain retailers will not sell certain knives to individuals unless they are police officers. They may just have a misconception of the law.

When Will the State Enforce the Law?

The law is vague and most likely if you are carrying a large knife or butterfly knife around, you won’t be bothered by the police. It is only once you have committed a crime with a “dangerous weapon” that the prosecution would tack on illegal possession or carry charges as a way to keep you off the street for a longer period of time.

For example, talking to someone who has a restraining order on you is illegal but talking to someone who has a restraining order on you while you have a knife that is not a pocketknife on you is a class C Felony. However, this makes sense doesn’t it? You should not be talking to that person in the first place, and certainly not while carrying a knife that could be used as a weapon.

When is it Illegal to Carry a Knife in Alaska

Besides the vague rulings on what kinds of knives are legal/illegal, Alaska has laws that makes certain behaviors illegal if carrying a knife.

  • It is illegal for people under 21 years of age to carry a concealed knife that is not a pocket knife.
  • It is illegal for k-12 school children to carry a knife to school.
  • It is illegal to carry a knife or have it in the car in the parking lot of a k-12 school without the approval of the principal.
  • It is illegal to talk to someone who has a restraining order on you with a non-pocket knife.
  • It is illegal to stalk or rob a place with a knife.
  • It is illegal to escape from jail/prison with a knife.
  • It is illegal to not tell a police officer that you have a concealed non-pocket knife on you when he/she stops you.

Conclusion on Alaska Knife Law

Alaska has very nice knife laws compared to other states. All readers from Alaska should enjoy this right! Just don’t buy/carry/have gravity knives or switchblades.

This is not legal advice and there is no client-attorney relationship. Consult a real attorney in Alaska if you have more questions. Also, your city might have local laws about knives as well.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. We are also working to find a lawyer in Alaska who would want to do an interview about knife laws. If you want to do your own research on Alaska knife laws, check out the state code.

Sources

Alaska Stat. § 11.81.900 (2013)
Alaska Stat. § 11.61.210 (2013)
Liddicoat v. State, 268 P.3d 355, (Alaska Ct. App. 2011)
State v. Weaver, 736 P.2d 781 (Alaska Ct. App. 1987)
State v. Strange, 785 P.2d 563 (Alaska Ct. App. 1990)
Jacobson v. State, 786 P.2d 388 (Alaska Ct. App. 1990)

Comments

  1. This is due for an update, we’ve had some very radical changes in favor of carry and possession of late. These were designed to match our firearm carry laws (both concealed and open carry are legal with no permit required), and include legalizing switchblades.

  2. Guy is correct.

    As of Sept 19, 2013 Alaska law prempts regulation of knives just as it does firearms. Local governments cannot restrict them more tightly than State statute.

    Gravity knives and switchblades are now absolutely legal for 17 and up to import, possess, buy/sell, and carry. The only remaining special restriction for them is sale/provision to minors 16 and under. There is little basis for them to not be considered “ordinary pocket knives” given the changes to the law, but that will wait on the courts.

    There are some restrictions on students possessing knives of any kind in school, same as most places.

    Metal knuckles are the only remaing weapon criminalized out in our weapon statutes by name. Knives with brass knuckles, like trench knives, could get you in trouble based on the knucks I guess.

    1. Alaskan here! Actually weapons restrictions on college students are not state laws, but school policies. In general, dont bring anything to campus or it will be confiscated by the campus police (Not sarcasm, most campuses have in house police here. They are megadicks, unlike the usual city cops who just dont give a damn unless your committing a crime.)

  3. Are Brass Knuckles legal to ship to, carry and or purchase in the state of Alaska?

    1. Alaskan here! Switchblades are legal to own as collectors items here. They may be functional, newly made, or antiques. You however may not carry them with the intent to use them, or use them for any task other than display purposes. This is only due to the fact that switchblades are Federaly Illegal. If a weapon isn’t illegal at the federal level, you can carry it and use it here and as long as no crime is begin committed no cop will ever stop or question you (Even if it is technically against state law, most cops do not give a rats ass until a crime is happening.). We’re a state where your concealed carry permit is your state ID or Driver’s license… Ironically we are more pro-arms than Texas. Probably because in most of our cities and towns bears are a real threat that actually happens at least once per-city/town each winter month.

  4. Alaskan here. Yes. But as they are federaly illegal to carry, if you are stopped by the cops and they find them you will face charges. However the official rule is “No officer, these are art objects for display purposes.” will be enough for the cop to just let you go. In general unless you commit or committed a crime, the cops just don’t care.

    Hell, I’m allowed to carry a WWI Trench Knife around and that’s just an extra heavy nuckleduster with a dagger stuck to it. Even called in and asked the cops. First question was “Do you know self defense laws?” “Yeah.” “Okay. Go ahead, just remember that is a deadly weapon so if you have to use it and in court are found to have escalated the conflict you have committed a crime.” “So, I’m okay to carry and use it?” “Yep. Long as you only do so if you have to.” “Thanks sir.”

    You wont get any looks from carrying any given one handed melee tool up here from normal people ether. A handgun on your belt may get some looks but if it’s not a rifle or say a spear, no one cares. Even then it’s not illegal. I’ve carried around a halberd, war hammer, kite shield, and bastard sword, all functional (walking home from a HEMA tourny) and aside from a “Cool!” or three no one cared. Well, one officer asked me what I was up to but then just gave me a “carry on”.

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