Idaho Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

The Essentials

Legal to Carry Openly

  • Any knife

Legal to Carry Concealed Without a Permit

  • Any knife with a blade of four inches or less that is not a: dirk, dagger or bowie knife

Legal to Carry Concealed with a Permit

  • Any knife
Idaho knife laws featured

Idaho Knife Law Overview

Idaho is another solidly middle of the road state when it comes to knife laws. There are a few restrictions on types you can carry, and an overarching restriction on blade length capped at 4”, if you carry concealed, but you may carry any knife you want concealed- blade length, action or style- if you have a state-issued weapons permit.

Overall, Idaho’s laws are clear and easy to interpret with little in the way of ambiguity, but a lack of statewide preemption hurts what is overall a reasonably permissive knife culture in the state.

The good news is Idaho also features strongly worded castle doctrine and stand-your-ground statutes that help insulate well-meaning and beleaguered citizens from any frivolous attempts to prosecute them.

We’ll crack open the pertinent statutes in the sections below.

Relevant Idaho State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives

  • Idaho State Constitution Article 1, Section 11
  • Idaho Code 18-3301
  • Idaho Code 18-3302
  • Idaho Code 18-3302D
  • Idaho Code 18-3302E
  • Idaho Code 18-3302I
  • Idaho Code 18-3302J

Idaho acknowledges in no uncertain terms its citizens right to keep and bear arms, and has enshrined such in its State Constitution. Article 1, Section 11 reads:

“The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent the passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of any legislation punishing the use of a firearm.

No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony.”

We’ll take it. I’d like it better without the passage allowing them to regulate concealed carry of weapons, but oh well. The lion’s share of Idaho’s other pertinent statutes covering the carry of knives is found in 18-3302.

Before we get there, we’ll start with 18-3301- this section briskly tells us that it is a misdemeanor to possess a knife with the intent to assault another:

18-3301. DEADLY WEAPON — POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO ASSAULT.

Every person having upon him any deadly weapon with intent to assault another is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Not much fanfare or beating around the bush with that one. We can get the real tale of the tape in 18-3302, which covers concealed weapons almost in their entirety for the State of Idaho:

18-3302. CONCEALED WEAPONS.

(1) The legislature hereby finds that the people of Idaho have reserved for themselves the right to keep and bear arms while granting the legislature the authority to regulate the carrying of weapons concealed. The provisions of this chapter regulating the carrying of weapons must be strictly construed so as to give maximum scope to the rights retained by the people.

(2) As used in this chapter:

(a) “Concealed weapon” means any deadly weapon carried on or about the person in a manner not discernible by ordinary observation;

(b) “Deadly weapon” means:

(i) Any dirk, dirk knife, bowie knife, dagger or firearm;

(ii) Any other weapon, device, instrument, material or substance that is designed and manufactured to be readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury; or

(iii) Any other weapon, device, instrument, material or substance that is intended by the person to be readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

(c) The term “deadly weapon” does not include:

(i) Any knife, cleaver or other instrument that is intended by the person to be used in the processing, preparation or eating of food;

(ii) Any knife with a blade four (4) inches or less; or

(iii) Any taser, stun-gun, pepper spray or mace;

(d) “Firearm” means any weapon that will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;

There is a lot more to come in this Chapter, but let’s look at what has been shown so far. Essentially, by covering knives with “deadly weapon” language, and making dirks, daggers and bowie knives deadly weapons under the law, Idaho basically prohibits all knives in their entirety from concealed carry without a license.

But then they make an exception in 2(c)ii, where any knife with a blade of 4” or less is specifically not a deadly weapon, meaning you can carry a shorter knife, any kind of knife, concealed with no issue. Of course as mentioned above, you can carry any knife openly.

Let’s pick up 18-3301 where we left off:

(3) No person shall carry concealed weapons on or about his person without a license to carry concealed weapons, except:

(a) In the person’s place of abode or fixed place of business;

(b) On property in which the person has any ownership or leasehold interest;

(c) On private property where the person has permission to carry concealed weapons from any person with an ownership or leasehold interest;

(d) Outside the limits of or confines of any city, if the person is over eighteen (18) years of age and is not otherwise disqualified from being issued a license under subsection (11) of this section.

(4) Subsection (3) of this section shall not apply to restrict or prohibit the carrying or possession of:

(a) Any deadly weapon located in plain view;

(5) The requirement to secure a license to carry concealed weapons under this section shall not apply to the following persons:

(a) Officials of a city, county or the state of Idaho;

(b) Any publicly elected Idaho official;

(c) Members of the armed forces of the United States or of the national guard when in performance of official duties;

(g) Any person who has physical possession of his valid license or permit authorizing him to carry concealed weapons from another state; and

(h) Any person who has physical possession of a valid license or permit from a local law enforcement agency or court of the United States authorizing him to carry concealed weapons.

(6) The sheriff of the county of the applicant’s residence or, if the applicant has obtained a protection order pursuant to chapter 63, title 39, Idaho Code, the sheriff of a county where the applicant is temporarily residing may issue a temporary emergency license for good cause pending review of an application made under subsection (7) of this section.

Temporary emergency licenses must be easily distinguishable from regular licenses. A temporary emergency license shall be valid for not more than ninety (90) days.

The remainder of the quoted statute tells us that we cannot carry concealed deadly weapons, without a permit, unless we within approved places. Our home and place of business is two. Someone else’s private property is another, so long as we have permission from the owner.

Interestingly, we can also carry concealed so long as we are outside of city limits and over eighteen years of age, so if you go rambling into deep country or out exploring remote places you can carry whatever you want with no penalty.

Note 4(a), which explicitly states that any openly carried deadly weapon (which includes all knives) is not a violation of the law. Of more interest, and somewhat bitter interest at that, is subsection 5, which tells us that anyone who already has a valid permit from another state that shares reciprocity with Idaho is exempt from the otherwise mandatory requirements to obtain a permit. It also says that city, county and state officials as well as any elected officials are exempt from those same requirements. Uh huh. Us and them. I see how it is.

18-3302E covers possession of weapons by minors:

18-3302E. POSSESSION OF A WEAPON BY A MINOR.

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of eighteen (18) years to possess or have in possession any weapon, as defined in section 18-3302A, Idaho Code, unless he:

(a) Has the written permission of his parent or guardian to possess the weapon; or

(b) Is accompanied by his parent or guardian while he has the weapon in his possession.

(2) Any minor under the age of twelve (12) years in possession of a weapon shall be accompanied by an adult.

(3) Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

If you are under 18, or have a child under 18, they will need your written permission slip or accompaniment to possess a weapon as defined by 18-3302A. This is more generous than plenty of other states who mandate direct adult supervision for those persons under the age of 18 who wish to possess a weapon.

No-Go Zones

Schools. Specifically you cannot bring a knife onto public or private elementary or secondary school property. This is all covered under 18-3302D:

18-3302D. POSSESSING WEAPONS OR FIREARMS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.
(1) (a) It shall be unlawful and is a misdemeanor for any person to possess a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon while on the property of a school or in those portions of any building, stadium or other structure on school grounds which, at the time of the violation, were being used for an activity sponsored by or through a school in this state or while riding school provided transportation.

(b) The provisions of this section regarding the possession of a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon on school property shall also apply to students of schools while attending or participating in any school-sponsored activity, program or event regardless of location.

(2) Definitions. As used in this section:

(a) “Deadly or dangerous weapon” means any weapon as defined in 18 U.S.C. 930;

(b) “Firearm” means any firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921;

(c) “Minor” means a person under the age of eighteen (18) years;

(d) “Possess” means to bring an object, or to cause it to be brought, onto the property of a public or private elementary or secondary school, or onto a vehicle being used for school-provided transportation, or to exercise dominion and control over an object located anywhere on such property or vehicle. For purposes of subsection (1)(b) of this section, “possess” shall also mean to bring an object onto the site of a school-sponsored activity, program or event, regardless of location, or to exercise dominion and control over an object located anywhere on such a site;

(e) “School” means a private or public elementary or secondary school.

(3) Right to search students or minors. For purposes of enforcing the provisions of this section, employees of a school district shall have the right to search all students or minors, including their belongings and lockers, that are reasonably believed to be in violation of the provisions of this section, or applicable school rule or district policy, regarding the possessing of a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon.

(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following persons:
(a) A peace officer;

(b) A qualified retired law enforcement officer licensed under section 18-3302H, Idaho Code;

(c) A person who lawfully possesses a firearm or deadly or dangerous weapon as an appropriate part of a program, an event, activity or other circumstance approved by the board of trustees or governing board;

(d) A person or persons complying with the provisions of section 19-202A, Idaho Code;

(e) Any adult over eighteen (18) years of age and not enrolled in a public or private elementary or secondary school who has lawful possession of a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon, secured and locked in his vehicle in an unobtrusive, nonthreatening manner;

(f) A person who lawfully possesses a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon in a private vehicle while delivering minor children, students or school employees to and from school or a school activity; or

(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-3302C, Idaho Code, a person or an employee of the school or school district who is authorized to carry a firearm with the permission of the board of trustees of the school district or the governing board.

(5) Penalties. Persons who are found guilty of violating the provisions of this section may be sentenced to a jail term of not more than one (1) year or fined an amount not in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or both.

If a violator is a student and under the age of eighteen (18) years, the court may place the violator on probation and suspend the juvenile detention or fine or both as long as the violator is enrolled in a program of study recognized by the court that, upon successful completion, will grant the violator a general equivalency diploma (GED) or a high school diploma or other educational program authorized by the court.

Upon successful completion of the terms imposed by the court, the court shall discharge the offender from serving the remainder of the sentence. If the violator does not complete, is suspended from, or otherwise withdraws from the program of study imposed by the court, the court, upon receiving such information, shall order the violator to commence serving the sentence provided for in this section.

A couple of important takeaways from the above statute: you can keep your knife on or about your person within your car if you are dropping off the kids at their school, or if you are over 18 and not enrolled at the school you may keep the weapon locked up in your vehicle while on school property.

Now for the big one: 4(d) says that any person complying with the provisions of 19-202A shall not be held accountable to the provisions of 18-3302D. What is 19-202A, you ask? That, dear reader, is Idaho’s statute covering defense of self and certain places.

What does that mean? We’ll look at the pertinent laws just below but essentially it means if you indeed had to use your knife in self-defense, and it was adjudged justified under the law, you would not be held accountable for bringing your weapon onto school grounds.

Full disclosure: I am not an attorney, I am definitely not your attorney and I don’t play one on TV. This article is not legal advice. Make sure you consult with a practicing legal professional in the state of Idaho as part of your self-defense preparations.

With that out of the way, let’s have a peek at 19-202A to see just what it says about defending oneself or someone else:

19-202A. DEFENSE OF SELF, OTHERS AND CERTAIN PLACES.

(1) No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting himself or his family by reasonable means necessary, or when coming to the aid of another whom he reasonably believes to be in imminent danger of or the victim of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder or other heinous crime.

(2) The defense of self or of another does not require a person to wait until he or she ascertains whether the danger is apparent or real. A person confronted with such danger has a clear right to act upon appearances such as would influence the action of a reasonable person.

(3) In the exercise of the right of self-defense or defense of another, a person need not retreat from any place that person has a right to be. A person may stand his ground and defend himself or another person by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge without the benefit of hindsight.

The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a person incarcerated in jail or prison facilities when interacting with jail or prison staff who are acting in their official capacities.

(4) In any prosecution for the unlawful use of force, including deadly force, or the attempted or threatened use of force contrary to title 18, Idaho Code, the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force, attempted use of force or threat to use force was not justifiable.

(5) A person using force or deadly force in defense of a habitation, place of business or employment or occupied vehicle as defined in section 18-4009(3), Idaho Code, is presumed to have acted reasonably and had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury if the force is used against a person whose entry or attempted entry therein is unlawful and is made or attempted by use of force, or in a violent and tumultuous manner, or surreptitiously or by stealth, or for the purpose of committing a felony.

Pretty clear on this end: if you defend yourself, your family or someone else from a felony, and let’s just call them forcible felonies, to be clear, you are using justifiable force under the law and just as importantly if that takes place on a school campus you will not be held liable for a violation of 18-3302D per a strict interpretation of the statutes.

What transpires in court may, as always, go down differently. Just something to keep in mind.

Preemption

Sadly, there are no preemption laws for knives in Idaho, but there is one for firearms only. The only statute that discusses preemption of municipal weapons laws is found in 18-3302J below:

18-3302J. PREEMPTION OF FIREARMS REGULATION.

(1) The legislature finds that uniform laws regulating firearms are necessary to protect the individual citizen’s right to bear arms guaranteed by amendment 2 of the United States Constitution and section 11, article I of the constitution of the state of Idaho. It is the legislature’s intent to wholly occupy the field of firearms regulation within this state.

(2) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city, agency, board or any other political subdivision of this state may adopt or enforce any law, rule, regulation, or ordinance which regulates in any manner the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying or storage of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition.

While many bills have been floated in years past to introduce knife preemption laws to the state, none have been ratified.

Bottom Line

Idaho is a solid state for knife ownership and carry. They do not ban any knife whatsoever based on length, style or type and only regulate what can be carried concealed by blade length.

Any knife can be carried openly as is explicitly stated in the law and any knife can also be carried concealed so long as one obtains a permit. Far from the worst state on our coast-to-coast series, many knife aficionados will find Idaho plenty agreeable.

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About Tom Marlowe

Tom Marlowe
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.

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