Mississippi Knife Laws: What You Need to Know

The Essentials

Legal to Open Carry

  • Any kind of knife

Legal to Concealed Carry with or without Permit

  • Any Knife except bowie, dirk, butcher knife or switchblade
  • Some exceptions apply to restrictions. See below.
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Mississippi Knife Law Overview

Mississippi a solidly pro-knife state with a few irksome restrictions governing concealed carry of a few types of knives. You can open carry pretty much anything you want, even if it is only “partially visible”, and that helps ameliorate the sting a little bit.

The few banned knives for concealed carry may be carried openly with no issues, and there is no kind of knife whatsoever that is illegal to possess in the state or carry, so long as you pay attention to the guidelines that restrict its mode of carry.

Mississippi’s laws are on the verbose side, but otherwise easy to understand. We’ll dig into them in the sections below.

Relevant Mississippi State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives

  • Title 45-9-101
  • Title 97-37-1
  • Title 97-37-7
  • Title 97-37-9
  • Title 97-37-17

Mississippi’s concealed handgun license does not give any permissions as to the carry of knives. This is important because the knives that are disbarred from concealed carry do not suddenly become legal because you obtain a permit, as in some other states.

Essentially, the knives you can carry, you can carry with or without a permit, and the standing ban on the named types of knives for concealed carry remains in effect regardless. Title 45-9-101 will show that you gain no special provision for knives when you obtain a permit:

45-9-101. License to carry stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver; license fees; exemptions; no license required to carry pistol or revolver in purse, briefcase, fully enclosed case, etc.

(1)

(a) Except as otherwise provided, the Department of Public Safety is authorized to issue licenses to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers to persons qualified as provided in this section. Such licenses shall be valid throughout the state for a period of five (5) years from the date of issuance. Any person possessing a valid license issued pursuant to this section may carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or concealed revolver.

(b) The licensee must carry the license, together with valid identification, at all times in which the licensee is carrying a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer. A violation of the provisions of this paragraph (b) shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) and shall be enforceable by summons.

Notice no knives of any kind are named in either relevant section. Moving briskly along to the next section, Title 97-37-1, we will see that the concealed carry of certain types of knives is expressly forbidden. Concealed, not open, as we will learn a little later on.

This section also allows the concealed carry of any kind of knife you want so long as you are at your own home, at your place of business, or in your vehicle as well as traveling to or from some sporting activity that involves the knife in question:

97-37-1. Deadly weapons; carrying while concealed; use or attempt to use; penalties; “concealed” defined.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in Section 45-9-101, any person who carries, concealed on or about one’s person, any bowie knife, dirk knife, butcher knife, switchblade knife, metallic knuckles, blackjack, slingshot, pistol, revolver, or any rifle with a barrel of less than sixteen (16) inches in length, or any shotgun with a barrel of less than eighteen (18) inches in length, machine gun or any fully automatic firearm or deadly weapon, or any muffler or silencer for any firearm, whether or not it is accompanied by a firearm, or uses or attempts to use against another person any imitation firearm, shall, upon conviction, be punished as follows:

(a) By a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both, in the discretion of the court, for the first conviction under this section.

(b) By a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), and imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, for the second conviction under this section.

(c) By confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years, for the third or subsequent conviction under this section.

(d) By confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years for any person previously convicted of any felony who is convicted under this section.

(2) It shall not be a violation of this section for any person over the age of eighteen (18) years to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed within the confines of his own home or his place of business, or any real property associated with his home or business or within any motor vehicle.

(3) It shall not be a violation of this section for any person to carry a firearm or deadly weapon concealed if the possessor of the weapon is then engaged in a legitimate weapon-related sports activity or is going to or returning from such activity. For purposes of this subsection, “legitimate weapon-related sports activity” means hunting, fishing, target shooting or any other legal activity which normally involves the use of a firearm or other weapon.

(4) For the purposes of this section, “concealed” means hidden or obscured from common observation and shall not include any weapon listed in subsection (1) of this section, including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.

For you malcontents out there who are willing to take the risk and say “Damn the man!”, you might scoff at the measly $100 fine for the first offense related to breaching the laws set down by this section, but do note that you might still be imprisoned for up to six months for a violation.

Also, take care to scrutinize (4) closely; if you have a knife, even a type otherwise restricted from concealed carry, and take pains to keep the sheath or scabbard partially visible, you are okay to carry it.

Now, don’t be a wiseguy and try to carry your bowie in a belt sheath with just the tip sticking out from beneath the hem of your jacket and claim it is, in fact, partially visible. Act in good faith, and you should be just fine.

Again, I am not an attorney, and I am definitely not your attorney. You should consult a Mississippi attorney who is fluent in weapons law as part of your preparations.

Title 97-37-9 provides codified written defenses for people who violate the proscriptions of 97-37-1, and among other things helpfully define self-defense and acting in defense of a church if part of the church security detail as allowed defenses under the law:

97-37-9. Deadly weapons; defenses against indictment for carrying deadly weapon.

Any person indicted or charged for a violation of Section 97-37-1 may show as a defense:

(a) That he was threatened, and had good and sufficient reason to apprehend a serious attack from any enemy, and that he did so apprehend; or

(b) That he was traveling and was not a tramp, or was setting out on a journey and was not a tramp; or

(g) That he was in lawful pursuit of a felon; or

(h) That he was lawfully engaged in legitimate sports;

(j) That at the time he or she was a member of a church or place of worship security program, and was then actually engaged in the performance of his or her duties as such and met the requirements of Section 45-9-171.

Lastly, there is a blanket ban on minors owning prohibited weapons named in 97-37-1. This is good to know not only for the sake of the minor, but also for mom and dad; if you knowingly allow your minor child to even own such a weapon, you’ll get tagged with a misdemeanor, fined up to a grand, and bagged and tagged in the county jail for up to 6 months:

97-37-15. Parent or guardian not to permit minor son to have or carry weapon; penalty.

Any parent, guardian or custodian who shall knowingly suffer or permit any child under the age of eighteen (18) years to have or to own, or to carry, any weapon the carrying of which concealed is prohibited by Section 97-37-1, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), and shall be imprisoned not more than six (6) months in the county jail. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a minor who is exempt from the provisions of Section 97-37-14.

Take care with you gifting of knives to children, lest you inadvertently give the prohibited variety and become a criminal!

No-Go Zones

As usual, schools are off-limits for the carry of any knives of any kind on school property the statutes specifically expand on the banned class of blades for the purpose.

So private, public or otherwise and any kind of school is off-limits, as is any facility or meeting place utilized by faculty, boards, directors and so forth. Title 97-37-17 has all the specifics.

97-37-17. Possession of weapons by students; aiding or encouraging.

(1) The following definitions apply to this section:

(a) “Educational property” shall mean any public or private school building or bus, public or private school campus, grounds, recreational area, athletic field, or other property owned, used or operated by any local school board, school, college or university board of trustees, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution or during a school-related activity, and shall include the facility and property of the Oakley Youth Development Center, operated by the Department of Human Services; provided, however, that the term “educational property” shall not include any sixteenth section school land or lieu land on which is not located a school building, school campus, recreational area or athletic field.

(b) “Student” shall mean a person enrolled in a public or private school, college or university, or a person who has been suspended or expelled within the last five (5) years from a public or private school, college or university, or a person in the custody of the Oakley Youth Development Center, operated by the Department of Human Services, whether the person is an adult or a minor.

(c) “Switchblade knife” shall mean a knife containing a blade or blades which open automatically by the release of a spring or a similar contrivance.

(d) “Weapon” shall mean any device enumerated in subsection (2) or (4) of this section.

(4) It shall be a misdemeanor for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any BB gun, air rifle, air pistol, bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slingshot, leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, metallic knuckles, razors and razor blades (except solely for personal shaving), and any sharp-pointed or edged instrument except instructional supplies, unaltered nail files and clips and tools used solely for preparation of food, instruction and maintenance on educational property. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months, or both.

(6) It shall not be a violation of this section for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any gun, rifle, pistol or other firearm of any kind on educational property if:

(a) The person is not a student attending school on any educational property;

(b) The firearm is within a motor vehicle; and

(c) The person does not brandish, exhibit or display the firearm in any careless, angry or threatening manner.

Take care to read in (6) above that it is entirely legal if you are visiting the school or attendant property for you to keep you firearm in your vehicle on the grounds, but it does not say one single thing about knives.

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking weapons laws apply in blanket fashion to all kinds of weapons in all circumstances! You must know exactly what the law covers in any situation; authorized persons, type of weapon, and intangibles, else you’ll run afoul of Uncle Sam.

Preemption

There is no preemption law statewide in Mississippi. You’ll need to double-check all municipal and city laws to ensure you remain in compliance when carrying your knife or knives to and fro. Generally, Mississippi is highly permissive, but it would not do to run afoul of some local politician looking to bend you over a barrel and virtue signal their “refinement.”

Bottom Line

Mississippi is a knife-friendly and easy to navigate place for blade people. Aside from a handful of type-specific restrictions for carry and a potentially tricky lack of preemption laws, you will hardly be able to do better than Mississippi. Take care that you don’t conceal one of the forbidden styles and you’ll be fine. Carry with confidence!

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