- Legal to Carry Openly or Concealed: Any kind of knife
- Illegal to Carry Openly or Concealed “Any other offensive weapon”
Oklahoma Knife Law Overview
Oklahoma has just about the shortest and most to the point (had to be done) laws regarding knives you’ll find.
What laws there are covering the use and carry go weapons are focused predominately on guns. Knives are left almost entirely alone since a major update to their laws over the years starting around 2015. Where once knives were banned by type or style, now no knives or bladed weapons are illegal by writ.
This can, though, cause issues, as we see the resurgence of such all-encompassing terms like “any other weapon.” While optimistically this excludes knives, realistically it leaves interpretation of what is or is not a weapon up to the courts.
This can be good or bad, but is usually bad: it is always best if the law strongly and specifically protects your rights by spelling out the authorized or exempted weapons and behavior. Oklahoma courts have a history of further failing to define much in the way of anything to at least set a strong precedent for future rulings.
You won’t feel like anyone is breathing down your neck about your knife in OK, but you’ll never feel quite safe, either. At any rate, we’ll see precisely what the state statutes have to say below.
Relevant Oklahoma State Statutes Covering Use and Ownership of Knives
- 21 Okl. St. S 1272
- 21 Okl. St. S 1276
- 21 Okl. St. S 1280.1
OK State statute 1272 in Title 21 defines what unlawful carry is and what weapons are forbidden from carry openly or concealed:
21-1272. Unlawful carry.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to carry upon or about his or her person, or in a purse or other container belonging to the person, any pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle whether loaded or unloaded or any blackjack, loaded cane, hand chain, metal knuckles, or any other offensive weapon, whether such weapon be concealed or unconcealed, except this section shall not prohibit:
1. The proper use of guns and knives for hunting, fishing, educational or recreational purposes;
2. The carrying or use of weapons in a manner otherwise permitted by statute or authorized by the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act;
3. The carrying, possession and use of any weapon by a peace officer or other person authorized by law to carry a weapon in the performance of official duties and in compliance with the rules of the employing agency;
4. The carrying or use of weapons in a courthouse by a district judge, associate district judge or special district judge within this state, who is in possession of a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act and whose name appears on a list maintained by the Administrative Director of the Courts; or
5. The carrying and use of firearms and other weapons provided in this subsection when used for the purpose of living history reenactment. For purposes of this paragraph, “living history reenactment” means depiction of historical characters, scenes, historical life or events for entertainment, education, or historical documentation through the wearing or use of period, historical, antique or vintage clothing, accessories, firearms, weapons, and other implements of the historical period.
B. Any person convicted of violating the foregoing provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable as provided in Section 1276 of this title.
So here we go again with the “any other offensive weapon” shtick. We do have a few court cases to help guide our opinion, but ultimately this could be any weapon. The statute does helpfully state it does not prohibit the carry of authorized weapons for self-defense in accordance with the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, or for common outdoor pursuits, so that’s good.
The penalties for violating the above statute are spelled out in 21-1276:
21-1276. Penalty for 1272 and 1273.
Any person violating the provisions of Section 1272 or 1273 of this title shall, upon a first conviction, be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor and the party offending shall be punished by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days or both such fine and imprisonment. On the second and every subsequent violation, the party offending shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not less than thirty (30) days nor more than three (3) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Any person convicted of violating the provisions of Section 1272 or 1273 of this title after having been issued a handgun license pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act shall have the license suspended for a period of six (6) months and shall be liable for an administrative fine of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) upon a hearing and determination by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that the person is in violation of the provisions of this section.
So even for a first time misdemeanor offense, jail time is not out of the question. The fine might be a slap on the wrist to some, but incarceration, any incarceration, often has life-changing ill effects.
That’s why it is so crucial that these laws are clearly and accurately written to convey their intent, not left vague and open to interpretation.
Schools, of course. Section 1280.1 has all the details covering the offense of bringing a weapon onto school property:
21-1280.1. Possession of firearm on school property.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession on any public or private school property or while in any school bus or vehicle used by any school for transportation of students or teachers any firearm or weapon designated in Section 1272 of this title, except as provided in subsection C of this section or as otherwise authorized by law.
B. For purposes of this section:
1. “School property” means any publicly owned property held for purposes of elementary, secondary or vocational-technical education, and shall not include property owned by public school districts or where such property is leased or rented to an individual or corporation and used for purposes other than educational;
2. “Private school” means a school that offers a course of instruction for students in one or more grades from prekindergarten through grade twelve and is not operated by a governmental entity; and
3. “Motor vehicle” means any automobile, truck, minivan or sports utility vehicle.
C. Firearms and weapons are allowed on school property and deemed not in violation of subsection A of this section as follows:
1. A gun or knife designed for hunting or fishing purposes kept in a privately owned vehicle and properly displayed or stored as required by law, provided such vehicle containing said gun or knife is driven onto school property only to transport a student to and from school and such vehicle does not remain unattended on school property;
2. A gun or knife used for the purposes of participating in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation certified hunter training education course or any other hunting, fishing, safety or firearms training courses, or a recognized firearms sports event, team shooting program or competition, or living history reenactment, provided the course or event is approved by the principal or chief administrator of the school where the course or event is offered, and provided the weapon is properly displayed or stored as required by law pending participation in the course, event, program or competition;
If you aren’t dropping your child off at school, or participating in hunter safety and education courses being held at school facilities, leave your knife at home!
One case, Beeler vs. State (1959) the court ruled that some weapons, even if not designed for the purpose of combat, might be a deadly weapon capable of killing easily, or a common tool used in such a way might produce effects indistinguishable from a proper weapon.
Another, Williams vs. State, set a precedent that the legislature of Oklahoma did not intend to punish people carrying weapons who had no guilty intent if otherwise innocent of a crime.
There is statewide preemption in Oklahoma. Though convenient, this does little good since the state’s laws are somewhat nebulous on knives. At the very least, you will not blunder into an offense a few towns over since they have no way to legally enforce an odious set of proscriptions.
Oklahoma is a nominally friendly state to knife owners since it lacks any major rules or regs against them. But what laws they do have also don’t do much to inspire confidence or protect you from legalism run amok.
That being said, there has been little in the way of spurious convictions and abuse of power in Oklahoma regarding citizens’ carry of knives, so you are probably good to go so long as you do not carry to obviously ferocious-looking a blade.
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.