Knife Laws

Know Your Knife Laws #15: Kentucky

Image courtesy US CensusWith the consent of the Virginia legislature, Kentucky County spun off from that state, formed its own state, and ratified the Constitution on June 1st, 1792. I’ve only been to Kentucky once, but it made a lasting and positive impression.

I spent part of a week at Rockcastle Shooting Center (shout-out time here) where I got to spend a whole afternoon shooting a mountain of .338 Lapua at steel gongs more than a half-mile distant. But enough about me.

Kentucky knife laws are fairly simple on the books, and fairly vague in their actual enforcement. You can own any kind of blade you want (really) and you can openly carry any of them. You can CCW any of them if you’ve got a Kentucky CCW permit (or recognized foreign CCW permit) and you’re allowed to CCW any ‘ordinary pocketknife or hunting knife’ without a permit.

Kentucky Revised Statutes sec. 527.020 prohibits the concealed carry of ‘deadly weapons’ and KRS 500.080 specifically excludes ordinary pocketknives or hunting knives from that category.

What exactly is an ‘ordinary hunting knife or pocketknife?’ I guess that’s where the lawyers would have to come in, if you found yourself charged with a violation of this very vague statute. My survey of knife discussion boards didn’t reveal many instances of folding knives or hunting knives getting people in trouble, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t or couldn’t happen.

Kentucky also lacks knife law pre-emption, so local jurisdictions are free to enact whatever silly knife laws they like. My short search, once again, only found a handful of local knife laws, but their mere existence is a huge headache for those who wish to comply with the law. A statewide knife pre-emption bill died in the Kentucky legislature in 2013; hopefully it will be revived and pass next year.

Image courtesy Kentucky State Police

The good news is that Kentucky is rather generous in its recognition of other states’ CCW permits. This map shows a pleasant sea of gray-green ‘recognize’ states. Hooray! Sadly, my own CCW states are not among them.  Boo!

I apologize that I can’t nail it down with any more precision than this. Automatics and push daggers are almost certainly outside the bounds of what you can conceal without a permit, but I couldn’t hazard a guess where the actual boundaries are. If you don’t have a recognized CCW, it can’t hurt to to check the local Kentucky rules and carry a modest sized drop-point folder just to play it safe.

Tags:

Discussion

9 responses to ‘Know Your Knife Laws #15: Kentucky

  1. Unless I am missing something, I believe the map posted is of states which recognize Kentucky CCH permits, not which states’ CCH permits are recognized by Kentucky for the purposes of carrying concealed in Kentucky. A potentlially important difference, unless Kentucky has blanket reciprocity.

  2. “Effective, July 15, 1998, Kentucky recognizes valid carry concealed weapons licenses issued by other states and, subject to the provisions of Kentucky law, a person holding a valid license from another state may carry a concealed deadly weapon in Kentucky.”

    I know a California LTC is recognized by them, though of course not the other way around.

  3. I’m 17 years old, and I recently got a SOG Seal Pup (M37-N) and I was wondering whether or not I would be able to legally OC this knife in Louisville, KY.

    • There is no express limitation on open carry of knives or age limitation… However, in light of the definition of deadly weapon, Kentucky knife owners would be wise to limit open carry to only those knives that could reasonably fall within the definition of hunting knife. Kentucky law provides that a “deadly weapon” may not be carried concealed on or about the person. Any knife other than an ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife is considered a deadly weapon.

  4. I’m 17 years old, and I recently got a SOG Seal Pup (M37-N) and I was wondering whether or not I would be able to legally OC this knife in Louisville, KY. Thanks!

  5. i work on a farm in richmond ky and i bought a bowie knife at tractor supply and its pretty big and im wondering if i can carry this thing on my belt like in public with out the cops doing any thing when they see me?

    • no… There is no express limitation on open carry of knives or age limitation… However, in light of the definition of deadly weapon, Kentucky knife owners would be wise to limit open carry to only those knives that could reasonably fall within the definition of hunting knife. Kentucky law provides that a “deadly weapon” may not be carried concealed on or about the person. Any knife other than an ordinary pocket knife or hunting knife is considered a deadly weapon.

Leave a Reply

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