Knife Laws

Know Your Knife Laws #18: Louisiana

 Image courtesy US Census

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.

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Discussion

21 responses to ‘Know Your Knife Laws #18: Louisiana

  1. In New Orleans, a knife cannot exceed the width of the carriers hand. This comes from the head of the New Orleans Parish sheriff department (met the guy through a mutual friend at a party and just had to ask.

    • And it is illegal in many jurisdictions to carry a Bowie style knife in public (mostly around the North Eastern portion of the state). Because any knife with a clip point blade, no matter how small, could be defined as a Bowie style knife by the man, there is a lot of room for interpretation by an overzealous LEO (i’v never met, heard of, or even think any Louisiana LEO would arrest or even bother someone about a clip point knife unless they were being a monumental asshole). The namesake of this blade style, Jim Bowie, popularized (and improved) the design by using it to win many duels here in Louisiana after all. Push daggers are illegal in New Orleans due to the many killings attributed to them in the 19th century (they were so popular in NOLA that the short, broad style that was preferred by residents is still called a New Orleans push dagger). A double edge is also banned in some locals.

    • Ima tattoo artist in new Orleans ,and carry ,a 7″ whiteknuckler ,and 7 or 8″ k-bar marine corps kind.knuckler strapped to back on belt,k bar on hip belt down the leg tied around the bottom.never had a problem

  2. Here’s the real deal: the law here is so vague that any agency can make up their own rules on what’s legal and what is not. I own a gun shop in Ascension Parish and we sell a variety of knives as well. The way the statute reads, carrying a dangerous weapon concealed is illegal without a permit. Our concealed carry permit is a handgun license only, so there is no license to carry a knife legally if a cop deems it a dangerous weapon. Ask 10 cops get 10 different answers. Ask them the statutes where is says push daggers are illegal to carry, they don’t know it because it doesn’t exist. It’s nothing against the cops…. It’s not their fault the law is vague. They’re just trying to make judgement calls. The law needs to clearly state what is legal and what is not.

    • Cops are rarely true experts on the law. The good news is that most Louisiana LEOs are quite reasonable and you have to be really super obnoxious to get in any trouble in most medium sized jurisdictions. New Orleans is it’s own animal and is in many ways not typical of the rest of the state. In small towns, how nit picky the deputy is about charges can depend heavily on his mood at the time, how you present yourself, and the political importance of whoever may have complained about you.

  3. I was asking myself this question the other day. I am 55 and Every man I grew up with always carried a knife, nothing complicated , just a pocket knife for just about anything. Fishing, hunting, or just fixing things around the house. I carried one in my purse for years because I had five horses and used it for any number of chores around the barn. Haven’t carried for years because we no longer have the horses or the cows. With everything so politically correct nowadays I wondered if a person still could. Thanks for the info.

  4. I have a 6 inch extreme ratio bayonet. If one of yall know what that is or care to look it up could you tell me all thst you know about carrying it especially in louisiana please? It would be greatly appreciated.

  5. I personally carry 3 knives unconcealed on my person mainly for accessory but also as a tool and protection. I haven’t been told anything by anyone except uninformed family members. Everyone else likes my stylish knives that also serve practical purposes. Just the other day I uses it to clean old caked up salt in the cracks at work, and opened a few bags (a certain way) to pour sauces without mess when I can’t find the scissors. I also use then to practice self defense also to ward away anyone attempting harm on me. I’m gonna attempt to carry an unconcealed but sheath katana soon I’ll report on how that goes since it didn’t exceed the width of my Palm

    • The main reason I would avoid letting people know I have a knife is that so many unprepared people will want to borrow it. I’m truly appalled at the number of adults who don’t carry their own knives. It makes me sick to see a grown man picking away at packaging tape with his keys.

      • Yea like seriously xD clip the damn keys back on your pants and use a damn knife. 1 it’s quicker I personally can slice quickly down the middle of the tape one handed and get it open faster. 2. They can be used so many ways from preparing food, cleaning, fixing things, protection etc.

  6. I carried a katana sheath through the suburbs of new Orleans I haven’t encountered and police yet but so far no issues. A lot of people would stare by just say “look at the samurai” xD some even asked me to unsheath it to see if it’s real xD.

    I also acquired 3 throwing knives with a carry case which I wear to work. I asked a JPSO if it were illegal he replied with “if it’s concealed or being used as a weapon then yes” even though my apron partially conceals it LA R.S. stated “any weapon that’s intentionally being concealed is illegal” I wasn’t intentionally concealing it, I wasn’t using it in anyway as a weapon but if it had to be used as a weapon in dire situations then it will be used and I wasn’t a threat to the peace. So therefore it wasn’t technically illegal.

    But long story short just be careful in LA with knives people are so uninformed and are not used to these things.

  7. Just don’t hide any knife over palm size,as long as it out in the open ,and your not out looking for trouble,to use it as a bully,u ok

  8. Factually there is no minimum age for knife ownership here. I live in denham springs, just east of baton rouge. You have to be 18 to purchase a knife or sword. But carrying one has no age restriction. Use common sense though, your not gonna give your toddler a pocket knife lol. I used to wear a ninjato in the mall, but now I get asked to take even my buck knife and leave it in my car by security officers, it scares the other folks in the mall and movie theaters. I’m cool about it because what the hell. I still have my pocket knife, the sword or buck are usually just for fun. Unless I’m out fishing. Nothing clears brush and discourages angry raccoons like a short sword.

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