Let’s take a little raft trip down the Ohio River and away from the treacherously vague and broad knife restrictions of the Buckeye State. And let’s keep going all the way to New Orleans. Unlike the big-city folks upriver, Louisiana has a pretty mellow attitude toward knives.
[First the typical lawyerly disclaimer: I’m a lawyer but I’m not licensed to practice Louisiana law, so nothing here is meant as legal advice. If you have to know if or where you can open carry your Ka-Bar, you’ll have to ask a Louisiana lawyer. The information presented here is only a general overview of the knife laws of Louisiana.]
The short version is that Louisiana’s state knife laws are minimally intrusive and generally based on common sense. The only type of knife that’s banned outright is true automatics. Assisted openers and Balisongs are all legal to possess. And to carry, in most jurisdictions.
With the exception of the ‘switchblade’ ban, the carrying of knives is basically unregulated by state law. The only law that speaks to the subject of knife carry is La. R.S. 14:95, which is frighteningly vague when you read it. ‘Illegal Carrying Of Weapons’ includes the concealed carry of a gun ‘or other instrumentality customarily used or intended for probable use as a dangerous weapon…’
Under some state interpretations, that could prohibit just about anything, but Louisiana has interpreted this statute to only cover things which are in essence single-purpose weapons. Tools like knives, which can all be used for something other than killing people, are not covered by this law.
The result on the street is that Louisiana state law allows open or concealed carry of anything but automatics. Louisiana does not have criminal-law preemption or specific knife law preemption, however, so there are parishes and towns with blade length or style limits.
My survey of several bulletin boards and forums shows that these local rules are essentially never enforced against otherwise peaceable and law-abiding citizens. They’re sometimes added to the list of charges when the po-po have to drag somebody down to the station.
How reassuring should this be? In an Orwellian state like New York, not very. But Louisiana is a Southern state with a tradition of outdoorsmanship and self-reliance, and I myself won’t hesitate to carry a modest-sized EDC knife in Louisiana the next time I’m there.
Next up? Indiana.