Legal to Carry Openly
- Any knife, if 21 years old or older
Legal to Carry Concealed
- Any knife, if 21 years old or older; duty to inform law enforcement, see below
Alaska Knife Law Overview
Alaska is in so many ways the last of America’s frontiers; a harsh, stark and mostly uninhabited place where neighbors might be few and far between in certain places.
Alaskan’s value and espouse hardiness, self-reliance and independence, and it is no surprise their state laws reflect this. In Alaska, you can carry any kind of knife you want, pretty much wherever and whenever you want. With just one or two small catches, that is.
Alaskans have a duty to report any knives they are carrying to law enforcement, if contacted, that do not fall into the category of “ordinary pocketknife,” and must also disclose the same if they are in someone else’s dwelling. The last restriction is that people under the age of 21 cannot carry anything besides an ordinary pocketknife.
It’s pretty much that simple, cut and dry. Even so, we’ll pop the hood on The Land of the Midnight Sun’s laws and make sure you know everything you need to before you strap on your blade to face the unforgiving, cold remoteness.
Relevant Alaska State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives
- Alaska State Constitution, Article 1, Section 19
Alaska really sets the bar high with their constitution, echoing not just the Amendment 2 of the U.S. Bill of Rights, but also going so far as to enhance the clause, leaving no doubt whatsoever about the rights of the people to keep and bear arms. See Art. 1, Sec. 19:
“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.”
Righteous! Those politicos can keep their greasy mitts off our weapons in Alaska, at least. Beyond this, the weapons laws in Alaska cover only a few areas of interest for law-abiding god guys and good gals.
Some of it dictates proper protocol if approached by a law enforcement officer, while the rest concerns where you cannot take a knife or how old you have to be in order to possess one.
We begin in 11.61.220, which covers the only situation most readers are liable to find themselves in danger of violating:
Sec. 11.61.220. Misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree.
(a) A person commits the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree if the person
(1) is 21 years of age or older and knowingly possesses a deadly weapon, other than an ordinary pocket knife or a defensive weapon,
(A) that is concealed on the person, and, when contacted by a peace officer, the person fails to
(i) immediately inform the peace officer of that possession; or
(ii) allow the peace officer to secure the deadly weapon, or fails to secure the weapon at the direction of the peace officer, during the duration of the contact;
(B) that is concealed on the person within the residence of another person unless the person has first obtained the express permission of an adult residing there to bring a concealed deadly weapon within the residence;
(3) being an unemancipated minor under 16 years of age, possesses a firearm, switchblade, or gravity knife without the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor;
(4) knowingly possesses a firearm
(A) within the grounds of or on a parking lot immediately adjacent to an entity, other than a private residence, licensed as a child care facility under AS 47.32 or recognized by the federal government for the care of children, except that a person 21 years of age or older may possess an unloaded firearm in the trunk of a motor vehicle or encased in a closed container of a motor vehicle;
(B) within a
(i) courtroom or office of the Alaska Court System; or
(ii) courthouse that is occupied only by the Alaska Court System and other justice-related agencies; or
(C) within a domestic violence or sexual assault shelter that receives funding from the state;
(6) is less than 21 years of age and knowingly possesses a deadly weapon, other than an ordinary pocket knife or a defensive weapon, that is concealed on the person.
(b) In a prosecution under (a)(6) of this section, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant, at the time of possession, was
(1) in the defendant’s dwelling or on land owned or leased by the defendant appurtenant to the dwelling; or
(2) actually engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, trapping, or other lawful outdoor activity that necessarily involves the carrying of a weapon for personal protection.
(c) The provisions of (a)(2) and (4) of this section do not apply to a peace officer acting within the scope and authority of the officer’s employment.
(e) For purposes of this section, a deadly weapon on a person is concealed if it is covered or enclosed in any manner so that an observer cannot determine that it is a weapon without removing it from that which covers or encloses it or without opening, lifting, or removing that which covers or encloses it; a deadly weapon on a person is not concealed if it is an unloaded firearm encased in a closed container designed for transporting firearms.
(h) In a prosecution
(1) under (a)(4)(B) of this section, it is a defense that the defendant, at the time of possession, was authorized to possess the firearm under a rule of court;
(2) under (a)(4)(C) of this section, it is a defense that the defendant, at the time of possession, was authorized in writing by the administrator of the shelter to possess the firearm.
(i) In (a)(1) of this section, “contacted by a peace officer” means stopped, detained, questioned, or addressed in person by the peace officer for an official purpose.
(j) Misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree is a class B misdemeanor.
That is a fair bit to unpack for just one section of law, so let’s start from the top. If you are 21 or older and carrying any knife aside from an “ordinary pocket knife” concealed and are contacted in any official capacity by a police officer, you must notify the officer of such, and either secure the weapon at their discretion or allow them to secure it. It’s that simple.
If you have a concealed weapon on your person as above, and want to enter the residence/dwelling of another person you must have their express permission to do so with the weapon concealed. The statute makes no mention of open carry in this regard but prudence would dictate a modest amount of deference in such a case.
If you are under 21 years of age (yes, 21, not 18) you cannot concealed carry a knife aside from an ordinary pocket knife unless you are at your home or other owned property, or engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping or some other outdoor activity. You can open carry such knives, however, anytime.
Pay attention to how Alaska defines concealed: “covered or enclosed in any manner so that an observer cannot determine that it is a weapon without removing it from that which covers or encloses it or without opening, lifting, or removing that which covers or encloses it”.
In this instance, it is safe to assert that a knife on the belt in its sheath is not concealed, so long as there is no garment covering it; a sheathed knife still obviously presents as what it is. This might spell trouble if one wants to carry otherwise disguised weapons, as they could be said to be “concealed” by nature of their design.
Other than that, you are good to go with any knives you choose in Alaska! Just make sure to get permission.
Schools, unless you have express permission of the head of the schoolhouse. The grounds and school vehicles as well as school activities are all off-limits, be it a public or private school.
Remember, you can keep the weapon other than a loaded firearm locked in the trunk of the vehicle or securely encased inside the cabin, or obtain permission from the principal to carry. See 11.61.210:
Sec. 11.61.210. Misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree.
(7) other than a preschool, elementary, junior high, or secondary school student, knowingly possesses a deadly weapon or a defensive weapon, without the permission of the chief administrative officer of the school or district or the designee of the chief administrative officer, within the buildings of, on the grounds of, or on the school parking lot of a public or private preschool, elementary, junior high, or secondary school, on a school bus while being transported to or from school or a school-sponsored event, or while participating in a school-sponsored event, except that a person 21 years of age or older may possess
(A) a deadly weapon, other than a loaded firearm, in the trunk of a motor vehicle or encased in a closed container in a motor vehicle;
(B) a defensive weapon;
(C) an unloaded firearm if the person is traversing school premises in a rural area for the purpose of entering public or private land that is open to hunting and the school board with jurisdiction over the school premises has elected to have this exemption apply to the school premises; in this subparagraph, “rural” means a community with a population of 5,500 or less that is not connected by road or rail to Anchorage or Fairbanks or with a population of 1,500 or less that is connected by road or rail to Anchorage or Fairbanks; or
(8) being a preschool, elementary, junior high, or secondary school student, knowingly possesses a deadly weapon or a defensive weapon, within the buildings of, on the grounds of, or on the school parking lot of a public or private preschool, elementary, junior high, or secondary school, on a school bus while being transported to or from school or a school-sponsored event, or while participating in a school-sponsored event, except that a student may possess a deadly weapon, other than a firearm as defined under 18 U.S.C. 921, or a defensive weapon if the student has obtained the prior permission of the chief administrative officer of the school or district or the designee of the chief administrative officer for the possession.
Big time! Statewide for knives and guns. Alaska has some of the clearest and most comprehensive preemption laws on the books, of any state. The preemption statute covering both knives and guns is 29.135.145:
Sec. 29.35.145. Regulation of firearms and knives.
(a) The authority to regulate firearms and knives is reserved to the state, and, except as specifically provided by statute, a municipality may not enact or enforce an ordinance regulating the possession, ownership, sale, transfer, use, carrying, transportation, licensing, taxation, or registration of firearms or knives.
(b) Municipalities may enact and enforce ordinances
(1) that are identical to state law and that have the same penalty as provided for by state law;
(2) restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that people, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized; ordinances enacted or enforced under this paragraph may not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by art. I, sec. 19, Constitution of the State of Alaska, to bear arms in defense of self or others;
(3) restricting the areas in their respective jurisdictions in which firearms or knives may be sold; a business selling firearms or knives may not be treated more restrictively than other businesses located within the same zone; and
(4) prohibiting the possession of firearms or knives in the restricted access area of municipal government buildings; the municipal assembly shall post notice of the prohibition against possession of firearms or knives at each entrance to the restricted access area.
So any municipality of any size in Alaska can only enact what are essentially carbon copies of the state’s laws on knives, penalties and all, and additionally may at their discretion choose to restrict carry in post-security checkpoint area of government buildings. That’s it!
Alaska is among the very best state for knife ownership, with only a handful or regulations governing interactions with police officers when carrying concealed, or when carrying concealed and entering the home of another person.
Comprehensively strong statewide preemption laws further cement Alaska as a great place for knife owners.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.