Rhode Island used to be a stronghold of freedom, both religious and political. If this sounds a bit dubious considering its recent history of firearm laws, remember that Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown in May of 1776.
It was also the last of the original colonies to ratify the new Constitution: it boycotted the Constitutional Convention because it failed to guarantee individual liberties, and it didn’t join the Union until May 29th, 1790, when the Bill Of Rights was being set in place to correct that oversight.
Is the Ocean State a stronghold of knife-law freedom? Not exactly.
The short version of Rhode Island’s knife laws is actually pretty short. Three inches, to be exact. Within that modest blade length, you can carry just about any knife you want except for a double-edged ‘dagger.’ Not that a three-inch Sykes-Fairbairn would be very useful anyway.
It’s all set forth in Section 11-47-42, entitled ‘Weapons Other Than Firearms Prohibited:
(a) No person shall carry or possess or attempt to use against another any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slingshot, billy, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stun-gun, or the so called “Kung-Fu” weapons.
Translation: we’re really afraid of ninjas and 1930’s mobsters.
(2) No person shall with intent to use unlawfully against another, carry or possess a crossbow, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, or other similar weapon designed to cut and stab another.
English version: no carrying of double-edged knives, concealed swords, or big Bowies. Or crossbows.
(3) No person shall wear or carry concealed upon his person, any of the above-mentioned instruments or weapons, or any razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade, or other weapon of like kind or description.
Translation: carry a knife under three inches and RI is cool with it, including fixed blades and autos. But remember that ‘three inches’ includes all of the blade forward of the handle, and not just the edged portion. Many ‘three-inch’ knives are actually a little bit longer than three inches when measured this way, so keep your ruler handy when you pick your EDC kit.
Rhode Island’s state motto is simply the word “Hope.” Their state knife motto is “Small Knives For A Small State.” Maybe they’re afraid that if you whip out anything longer than three inches (cough, cough) you’ll accidentally smack someone in Connecticut or Massachusetts with it.
I have to live with a stupid 3-inch blade limit, so RI would actually be an improvement for me in the edged EDC category. But RF ditched RI because their gun laws are all kinds of stupid, and he was about my only imaginable reason to even visit there.