The knife law of Louisiana is sort of confusing and wordy. This article will give you an understanding of Louisiana knife laws in everyday English. It will include quotes from the law as well as clarification from cases. [...] are truncated parts of the law that were removed because they do not pertain to knives.
What is Legal/Illegal to Own
- It is legal to own Balisong knives, also called butterfly knives.
- It is legal to own dirks, daggers, stilettos, and other slim knives.
- It is legal to own disguised knives like belt knives.
- It is legal to own undetectable knives–knives that will not set off metal detectors.
- It is legal to own throwing stars and throwing knives.
- It is legal to own Bowie knives and other large knives.
- It is illegal to own switchblades and other automatic knives.
The only banned knife in Louisiana are switchblades. However, if you are a law enforcement officer, you might be able to get an automatic opening knife because there is an exemption for “rescue knives” in the law.
Limits on Carry
- Any knife is legal for open or concealed carry as long as it is not a switchblade.
What the Law Says
La. R.S. 14:95 (2013)
§ 14:95. Illegal carrying of weapons
A. Illegal carrying of weapons is:
(1) The intentional concealment of any firearm, or other instrumentality customarily used or intended for probable use as a dangerous weapon, on one’s person; or
(2) The ownership, possession, custody or use of any firearm, or other instrumentality customarily used as a dangerous weapon, at any time by an enemy alien; or
(3) The ownership, possession, custody or use of any tools, or dynamite, or nitroglycerine, or explosives, or other instrumentality customarily used by thieves or burglars at any time by any person with the intent to commit a crime; or
(4) (a) The manufacture, ownership, possession, custody or use of any switchblade knife, spring knife or other knife or similar instrument having a blade which may be automatically unfolded or extended from a handle by the manipulation of a button, switch, latch or similar contrivance located on the handle.
(b) The provisions of this Paragraph shall not apply to the following:
(i) Any knife that may be opened with one hand by manual pressure applied to the blade or any projection of the blade.
(ii) Any knife that may be opened by means of inertia produced by the hand, wrist, or other movement, provided the knife has either a detent or other structure that provides resistance that shall be overcome in opening or initiating the opening movement of the blade or a bias or spring load toward the closed position.
J. The provisions of this Section shall not prohibit the ownership of rescue knives by commissioned full-time law enforcement officers. The provisions of this Section shall not prohibit the carrying of rescue knives by commissioned full-time law enforcement officers who are in the actual discharge of their official duties. The provisions of this Section shall not prohibit the sale of rescue knives to commissioned full-time law enforcement officers. The provisions of this Section shall not prohibit the ownership or possession of rescue knives by merchants who own or possess the knives solely as inventory to be offered for sale to commissioned full-time law enforcement officers. As used in this Subsection, a “rescue knife” is a folding knife, which can be readily and easily opened with one hand and which has at least one blade which is designed to be used to free individuals who are trapped by automobile seat belts, or at least one blade which is designed for a similar purpose. No blade of a rescue knife shall exceed five inches in length.
What this means is that it is illegal for you to conceal carry a switchblade or automatic knife. This law also states that it is legal for any officer to carry a “rescue knife.” What is a rescue knife and what counts as a switchblade in Louisiana? The law remains unclear but some other documents can clear the matter for us.
Balisong knives, also called butterfly knives, do not fall under this switchblade ban. The Attorney General of Louisiana in La. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 1999-332 stated that a Balisong knife is not a switchblade and is legal to own in Louisiana. He cites the case of State v. Robinson in 1990 where the court did not find that a balisong knife counts as a switchblade.
The AG also stated that a rescue knife is a tool that is able to fold, can be opened one handed, and is designed to cut seat belts. It goes on to say that, if a knife has a button, but pressing the button does not automatically open the knife (for example, you still need to flick it open), it does not count as a switchblade and won’t be banned.
From this, we can conclude that the only banned knives in Louisiana are any knife that are automatically opened. The only individuals who can own automatic opening knives are police officers who use them as rescue knives.
Conclusion on Louisiana Knife Law
It is legal to own any knife in Louisiana except for a switchblade or any other automatic knife. You can open and conceal any knife except a switchblade or automatic knife.
Note that this is not legal advice and there is no client-attorney relationship. There are also local and municipal laws that come into play so you much check those out as well. Consult with an attorney if you need more guidance.
- Illegal Carrying and Discharge of Weapons. La. R.S. 14:95 (2013). Retrieved January 19, 2013, from LexisNexis Academic database.
- Opinion No. 99-332. La. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 1999-332 (1999). Retrieved January 19, 2013, from LexisNexis Academic database.