Kansas Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

The Essentials

  • Legal to Carry Openly or Concealed: Dagger, Dirk, Bowie, Butterfly knife, Hidden blade, Stiletto, Spike, Automatic, Push knife, Hawkbill, Gravity knife, Assisted opening knife, Non-metallic “undetectable knives”, Throwing knives
  • Illegal to Carry or Possess: Throwing Stars
flag of Kansas

Kansas Knife Law Overview

Since a 2013 repeal of the state’s prohibition on switchblades, Kansas is among the most permissive of all states with regards to knife ownership and carry. There is no type of knife, nor any length of knife, that is forbidden expressly with the exception of throwing stars which are technically not knives at any rate.

ou can carry any kind of knife your heart desires, openly or concealed, and take it almost anywhere you wish in the state of Kansas thanks to strong preemption statutes.

Even so, the devil is in the details, and we’ll have a look at what the law actually has to say so you’ll have the full tale of the tape when it comes to staying legal while carrying a blade in The Sunflower State.

Relevant Kansas State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives

  • KSA 12-16, 134
  • KSA 21-6301
  • KSA 21-6302
  • KSA 72-89

Unlike so many other states that seek to regulate what type of knives you may carry lawfully and do so under what circumstances, Kansas law only sets out that person may not carry a weapon with the intent to do something unlawful to someone else, e.g. threaten or accost them with it.

The statute is worded in such a way that it is clearly enumerated that possessing certain weapons, any weapon in its category, really, is not a crime unless the State can prove that one set out, knowingly, with ill intent while carrying it on or about their person. The full text of KSA 21-6301 reads:

21-6301. Criminal use of weapons.

(a) Criminal use of weapons is knowingly:

(1) Selling, manufacturing, purchasing or possessing any bludgeon, sand club or metal knuckles;

(2) possessing with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, blackjack, slungshot, dangerous knife, straight-edged razor, throwing star, stiletto or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character;

(3) setting a spring gun;

Notice how the entirety of the passage so far regarding criminal use of knives is only predicated upon possession, making or transferring with intent to use it unlawfully against someone else, not for any other reason.

Also note that the language “dangerous knife” and “other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character” have popped up yet again.

While this would almost certainly allow law enforcement and a courtroom to construe even the most common knife as a weapon when used in commission of a crime, in this situation the nebulous language is less of a concern than usual since the statute makes it highly clear possession of any knife is only a problem if carried with criminal intent.

Carrying on in this same section, pay attention to the language in subsections 4 through 9:

(4) possessing any device or attachment of any kind designed, used or intended for use in suppressing the report of any firearm;

(5) selling, manufacturing, purchasing or possessing a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches in length, or any firearm designed to discharge or capable of discharging automatically more than once by a single function of the trigger, whether the person knows or has reason to know the length of the barrel or that the firearm is designed or capable of discharging automatically;

(6) possessing, manufacturing, causing to be manufactured, selling, offering for sale, lending, purchasing or giving away any cartridge which can be fired by a handgun and which has a plastic-coated bullet that has a core of less than 60% lead by weight, whether the person knows or has reason to know that the plastic-coated bullet has a core of less than 60% lead by weight;

(7) selling, giving or otherwise transferring any firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches long to any person under 18 years of age whether the person knows or has reason to know the length of the barrel;

(8) selling, giving or otherwise transferring any firearms to any person who is both addicted to and an unlawful user of a controlled substance;

(9) selling, giving or otherwise transferring any firearm to any person who is or has been a mentally ill person subject to involuntary commitment for care and treatment, as defined in K.S.A. 59-2946, and amendments thereto, or a person with an alcohol or substance abuse problem subject to involuntary commitment for care and treatment as defined in K.S.A. 59-29b46, and amendments thereto;

(17) possessing any firearm by a person while such person is subject to a court order that:

(A) Was issued after a hearing, of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;

(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner of such person or a child of such person or such intimate partner, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or the child; and

(C) (i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or

(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or

(18) possessing any firearm by a person who, within the preceding five years, has been convicted of a misdemeanor for a domestic violence offense, or a misdemeanor under a law of another jurisdiction which is substantially the same as such misdemeanor offense.

(b) Criminal use of weapons as defined in:

(1) Subsection (a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(7), (a)(8), (a)(9) or (a)(12) is a class A nonperson misdemeanor;

(2) subsection (a)(4), (a)(5) or (a)(6) is a severity level 9, nonperson felony;

(3) subsection (a)(10) or (a)(11) is a class B nonperson select misdemeanor;

(4) subsection (a)(13), (a)(15), (a)(16), (a)(17) or (a)(18) is a severity level 8, nonperson felony; and

(5) subsection (a)(14) is a:

(A) Class A nonperson misdemeanor except as provided in subsection (b)(5)(B);

(B) severity level 8, nonperson felony upon a second or subsequent conviction.

(c) Subsections (a)(1), (a)(2) and (a)(5) shall not apply to:

(l) Subsection (a)(1) shall not apply to any ordinary pocket knife which has a spring, detent or other device which creates a bias towards closure of the blade and which requires hand pressure applied to such spring, detent or device through the blade of the knife to overcome the bias towards closure to assist in the opening of the knife.

(m) As used in this section, “throwing star” means any instrument, without handles, consisting of a metal plate having three or more radiating points with one or more sharp edges and designed in the shape of a polygon, trefoil, cross, star, diamond or other geometric shape, manufactured for use as a weapon for throwing.

The takeaway is that Kansas law is almost entirely concerned with the regulation and dispensation of firearms, not knives, and aside from the first three passages of the statute knives and other bladed weapons are mentioned not at all.

While not the sum total of Kansas state knife law, it is the majority regarding ownership and carrying. It should also be pointed out that a “throwing star” is specifically earmarked in the law as something other than a knife, with the passage reading it lacks a handle entirely, and consists of three or more sharp protrusions in a decidedly un-knifelike shape.

This means that a typical throwing knife should be legal.

Again, I am not an attorney, and definitely not your attorney. Be sure to consult with an experienced practitioner of law in the State of Kansas before choosing to carry any blade that is not explicitly permissible by law.

The next pertinent passages are found in KSA 21-6302 and are more important for what they don’t say than what they do about the criminal carrying of weapons:

21-6302. Criminal carrying of a weapon.

(a) Criminal carrying of a weapon is knowingly carrying:

(1) Any bludgeon, sandclub, metal knuckles or throwing star;

(2) concealed on one’s person, a billy, blackjack, slungshot or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character;

(3) on one’s person or in any land, water or air vehicle, with intent to use the same unlawfully, a tear gas or smoke bomb or projector or any object containing a noxious liquid, gas or substance; or

(4) any pistol, revolver or other firearm concealed on one’s person if such person is under 21 years of age, except when on such person’s land or in such person’s abode or fixed place of business; or

(5) a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches in length or any other firearm designed to discharge or capable of discharging automatically more than once by a single function of the trigger whether the person knows or has reason to know the length of the barrel or that the firearm is designed or capable of discharging automatically.

(b) Criminal carrying of a weapon as defined in:

(1) Subsections (a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3) or (a)(4) is a class A nonperson misdemeanor; and

(2) subsection (a)(5) is a severity level 9, nonperson felony.

There is no talk of knives at all in this section, the sole bladed implement names being the aforementioned throwing star. Ergo there is no overtly criminal carry of any type or length or style of knife. Good news for citizens and travelers!

No-Go Zones

Nominally, schools. Kansas law forbids any student from carrying a “switch-blade” or gravity knife, but you’d be a maniac to think you’ll be allowed to if push came to shove. If you felt froggy, you should be okay carrying any other kind of knife, but I would take great care to keep it concealed.

Always remember that, whatever the law states, with rights come responsibilities and more importantly ethics. Near the top of your concerns as a carrier of concealed weapons should be “don’t scare the horses.”

Aside from sheer tactical advantage of possessing a hidden weapon you can produce to great shock in a time of need, you do not want anyone else to know you have it on but you!

Preemption

Kansas has statewide preemption banning any municipality form enacting their own laws and rules pertaining to the regulation of commerce and/or possession of knives and helpfully states that no action shall be prosecuted against any individual for violating a law or ordinance that was adopted against the prohibitions of the State:

12-16,134. Knives and knife making components; regulation by municipality, limitations.

(a) A municipality shall not enact or enforce any ordinance, resolution, regulation or tax relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer, purchase, gift, devise, licensing, registration or use of a knife or knife making components.

(b) A municipality shall not enact or enforce any ordinance, resolution or regulation relating to the manufacture of a knife that is more restrictive than any such ordinance, resolution or regulation relating to the manufacture of any other commercial goods.

(c) Any ordinance, resolution or regulation prohibited by either subsection (a) or (b) that was adopted prior to July 1, 2014, shall be null and void.

(d) No action shall be commenced or prosecuted against any individual for a violation of any ordinance, resolution or regulation that is prohibited by either subsection (a) or (b) and which was adopted prior to July 1, 2014, if such violation occurred on or after July 1, 2013.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) ”Knife” means a cutting instrument and includes a sharpened or pointed blade.

(2) ”Municipality” has the same meaning as defined in K.S.A. 75-6102, and amendments thereto, but shall not include unified school districts, jails, as defined in K.S.A. 38-2302, and amendments thereto, or juvenile correctional facilities, as defined in K.S.A. 38-2302, and amendments thereto.

Great news for the citizens living in, and for travelers to the State of Kansas. Were only every state’s knife laws this minimal, we might be living in something close to a free country!

Bottom Line

Kansas is one of only a few states that are extraordinarily permissive, with the only banned blades of note being throwing stars, and considering how ill-suited they are for self-defense this is only a trivial concern for the well-armed citizen.

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