Louisiana Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

Legal to Carry Openly

  • Any Knife

Legal to Carry Concealed

  • Any Knife Except Automatic Knife “Switchblades”
  • Does not apply to assisted opening, gravity and other one-hand operation knives.

Louisiana Knife Law Overview

Louisiana is a highly knife-friendly state with only a single class restriction on the type of blade you can carry concealed or openly, those being switchblades.

No permit is required for concealed carry of knives in the state of Louisiana though a lack of statewide preemption law means you will have to follow the proscriptions of the various towns and municipalities you dwell in.

Louisiana’s legal statutes are clearly written and easy to understand for most folks, aside from their use of the curious word “instrumentality” to denote weapons and tools other than firearms. That notwithstanding, you should be able to answer your own questions about Louisiana law easily enough.

The most pertinent of these laws are covered below, almost in their entirety within the bounds of R.S. 14:95.

Relevant Louisiana State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives

R.S. 14:94. Illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities

R.S. 14:95. Illegal carrying of weapons

R.S. 14:95.1. Possession of firearm or carrying concealed weapon by a person convicted of certain felonies

R.S. 14:95.2. Carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon by a student or nonstudent on school property, at school-sponsored functions, or in a firearm-free zone

R.S. 14:95.10. Possession of a firearm or carrying of a concealed weapon by a person convicted of domestic abuse battery and certain offenses of battery of a dating partner

Again the only specifically forbidden knife by state law is the concealed carry of an automatic knife (assisted opening knives are alright!). This does not mean municipal laws will be as lenient, so it is up to you to ascertain the lay of the legal land wherever you are living or travelling.

The general outlines of weapons carry in LA are set out in R.S. 14:94, and are also the first pertinent use of the word instrumentality/instrumentalities” that Louisiana lawmakers oddly love so much:

§94. Illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities

A. Illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities is the intentional or criminally negligent discharging of any firearm, or the throwing, placing, or other use of any article, liquid, or substance, where it is foreseeable that it may result in death or great bodily harm to a human being.

B. Except as provided in Subsection E, whoever commits the crime of illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than two years, or both.

C. Except as provided in Subsection E, on a second or subsequent conviction, the offender shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than five years nor more than seven years, without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence.

D. The enhanced penalty upon second and subsequent convictions provided for in Subsection C of this Section shall not be applicable in cases where more than five years have elapsed since the expiration of the maximum sentence, or sentences, of the previous conviction or convictions, and the time of the commission of the last offense for which he has been convicted.

The sentence to be imposed in such event shall be the same as may be imposed upon a first conviction.

Knives of all kinds are not obviously included in “dangerous instrumentalities” and not codified in the word “article” near the middle of (A.). You’ll note that violation of this statute carries a stiff penalty on the first offense: A thousand bucks in fines and up to two years of hard labor. Bummer. The operative clause “with intentional or criminally negligent ” does not cover the lawful use of a knife in self-defense, but these things get sticky if your preemptive draw of the knife could be construed as a brandishing, a criminal act.

The carry of knives and dangerous weapons is covered in Section 95 of Chapter 14. This one may seem obviously biased against knives, which are named specifically for the first time in our reading of the statutes, but it is clear once you read the whole thing:

§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 intentional concealment on one’s person 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.

In this section you can clearly see that knives are set apart and distinct from “instrumentalities” due to the preponderance of text devoted to clarifying both their illegal types (switchblades) and types that are specifically excluded from the illegal types e.g. knives that are opened or assisted-opening via thumbstuds, nail knicks, etc. etc.

The latter part of subhead (ii) might worry some as to their knife’s mechanical operation (is my knife biased or spring loaded toward the closed position?) but this is unnecessary for almost any knife: a “bias toward closure simply means a folding knife that is closed will mechanically tend towards remaining closed.

Consider a traditional peasant knife or straight razor- these blades have no such mechanisms holding them shut and will swing open with little or no force. Now consider any of the billions of slip-joint, ball detent and similar pocketknives.

Notice how they require some to significant force just to overcome the resistance of the mechanism? That is bias toward closure. There are few who would feel unsafe dropping a common pocketknife into their pocket; I don’t know anyone who would carry a straight razor in a pocket without some kind of sheath.

Section 95.1 spells out that the carrying of guns and weapons (knives included) by felons and the insane is not okay, and is a felony. Interestingly, it also spells out explicitly that those who fit the above category can carry a knife or other weapon if at least 10 years has elapsed since the completion of their sentence or discharge from a mental hospital. Huh.

§95.1. Possession of firearm or carrying concealed weapon by a person convicted of certain felonies

A. It is unlawful for any person who has been convicted of, or has been found not guilty by reason of insanity for, a crime of violence as defined in R.S. 14:2(B) which is a felony or simple burglary, burglary of a pharmacy, burglary of an inhabited dwelling, unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, felony illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities, manufacture or possession of a delayed action incendiary device, manufacture or possession of a bomb, or possession of a firearm while in the possession of or during the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, or any violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law which is a felony, or any crime which is defined as a sex offense in R.S. 15:541, or any crime defined as an attempt to commit one of the above-enumerated offenses under the laws of this state, or who has been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States or of any foreign government or country of a crime which, if committed in this state, would be one of the above-enumerated crimes, to possess a firearm or carry a concealed weapon.

B. Whoever is found guilty of violating the provisions of this Section shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than five nor more than twenty years without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence and be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars. Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S. 14:27, whoever is found guilty of attempting to violate the provisions of this Section shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than seven and one-half years and fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars.

C. The provisions of this Section prohibiting the possession of firearms and carrying concealed weapons by persons who have been convicted of, or who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity for, certain felonies shall not apply to any person who has not been convicted of, or who has not been found not guilty by reason of insanity for, any felony for a period of ten years from the date of completion of sentence, probation, parole, suspension of sentence, or discharge from a mental institution by a court of competent jurisdiction.

So if you are a bad guy or bad girl, no knife for you in LA, though if you have paid your debt to society you can regain your rights to carry weapons after a decade on the cart. People who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors and other offenses are also prohibits form carrying knives in LA, as set forth in Section 95.10:

§95.10. Possession of a firearm or carrying of a concealed weapon by a person convicted of domestic abuse battery and certain offenses of battery of a dating partner

A. It is unlawful for any person who has been convicted of any of the following offenses to possess a firearm or carry a concealed weapon:

(1) Domestic abuse battery (R.S. 14:35.3).

(2) A second or subsequent offense of battery of a dating partner (R.S. 14:34.9).

(3) Battery of a dating partner when the offense involves strangulation (R.S. 14:34.9(K)).

(4) Battery of a dating partner when the offense involves burning (R.S. 14:34.9(L)).

B. Whoever is found guilty of violating the provisions of this Section shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than one year nor more than twenty years without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, and shall be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars.

C. A person shall not be considered to have been convicted of domestic abuse battery or battery of a dating partner for purposes of this Section unless the person was represented by counsel in the case, or knowingly and intelligently waived the right to counsel in the case; and in the case of a prosecution for an offense described in this Section for which a person was entitled to a jury trial in the jurisdiction in which the case was tried, either the case was tried by a jury, or the person knowingly and intelligently waived the right to have the case tried by a jury, by guilty plea or otherwise. A person shall not be considered convicted of R.S. 14:34.9 or 35.3 for the purposes of this Section if the conviction has been expunged, set aside, or is an offense for which the person has been pardoned or had civil rights restored unless the pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, possess, or receive firearms.

As it is in Florida and quite a few other states, roughing up your partner, wedded or not, will see your rights to carry a weapon stripped along with others.

No-Go Zones

You cannot carry your knife onto the premises, property or any conveyance or shuttle (i.e. bus) belonging to a school, elementary, secondary, high school, or technical school. You may also not carry any knife to any school-run function or activity, so ballgames and so on and so forth are out. Section 95.2 puts all of that in black-and-white, in excruciating detail.

§95.2. Carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon by a student or nonstudent on school property, at school-sponsored functions, or in a firearm-free zone

A. Carrying a firearm, or dangerous weapon as defined in R.S. 14:2, by a student or nonstudent on school property, at a school sponsored function, or in a firearm-free zone is unlawful and shall be defined as possession of any firearm or dangerous weapon, on one’s person, at any time while on a school campus, on school transportation, or at any school sponsored function in a specific designated area including but not limited to athletic competitions, dances, parties, or any extracurricular activities, or within one thousand feet of any school campus.

B. For purposes of this Section, the following words have the following meanings:

(1) “Campus” means all facilities and property within the boundary of the school property.

(2) “Nonstudent” means any person not registered and enrolled in that school or a suspended student who does not have permission to be on the school campus.

(3) “School” means any elementary, secondary, high school, vocational-technical school, college, or university in this state.

(4) “School bus” means any motor bus being used to transport children to and from school or in connection with school activities.

C. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to:

(3) Any person having the written permission of the principal or as provided in R.S. 17:3361.1.

(5) Any constitutionally protected activity which cannot be regulated by the state, such as a firearm contained entirely within a motor vehicle.

D.(1) Whoever commits the crime of carrying a firearm, or a dangerous weapon as defined in R.S. 14:2, by a student or nonstudent on school property, at a school-sponsored function, or in a firearm-free zone shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than five years.

If you keep your knife inside your vehicle while visiting the school, you are okay, as is carry of the knife within 1,000 feet of the school if you have a permit!

Take the above section seriously; breaching it will get you a major fine and five years in the pen. The statutes also specifically state that claiming ignorance of the law of that any illegal event took place shall not be a defense!

You are also forbidden from carrying your knife into a courtroom or courthouse, or at the state capitol buildings.

Preemption

There is no statewide preemption in the state of Louisiana, but thankfully most municipal laws and city laws are mild or relaxed. It should be noted that Louisiana State laws explicitly grant cities broad latitude to institute the laws they see fit. A few standout as more restrictive than the span of state law:

  • New Orleans – Possession or ownership of switchblades prohibited; possession of weapons at demonstrations prohibited.
  • Baton Rouge – Possession or ownership of switchblades prohibited.
  • Shreveport – No possession of weapons at government or city facilities allowed.

So that is a bit of a bummer, but not too terrible. Keep in mind other cities, even small towns, may have laws that are similar or even worse than the major cities above. It is up to you to find out and adhere.

Bottom Line

Louisiana is a widely permissive state for ownership, carry and use of knives, and aside from a blanket restriction on the concealed carry of automatic knives and some restrictive municipal laws thanks to the lack of statewide preemption, you will find the travelling easy in The Pelican State.

Louisiana knife laws Pinterest image

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *