Ohio Knife Laws suck. That is how Editor Emeritus Chris Dumm opened his Ohio Knife Laws piece. For one thing, there is no Knife Preemption law, and pretty much any knife can fall into the giant gaping maw of prosecutorial discretion if it is concealed. That is because anything the State wants to call a deadly weapon can be the basis for a charge. A recent piece in the News Herald (Northeast Ohio) chronicled the state of affairs.
The critical element involved in whether a person is charged with carrying a concealed weapon after being found in possession of a knife comes down to its intended use, state law dictates.
According to Ohio Revised Code Section 292311, which outlines the definitions of weapons, “deadly weapon’ means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.”
So, when coming into contact with law enforcement, it’s best for individuals to be able to explain why they’re carrying a blade, lest it be considered carrying a concealed weapon — a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months behind bars and a $1,000 fine.
Mentor Police Department Detective Sgt. Rich Slovenkay said that the best thing a person carrying a knife can do is not to do anything wrong in the first place.
“We typically only come into contact with someone and charge them with carrying a concealed weapon if we stop them for something else first, then carrying a concealed weapon can come into play,” he said. “For example, a guy might get pulled over and searched for whatever reason and an officer will find him with a knife clipped inside his pocket. Well, we’ll ask: ‘Why do you have that on you?’ and he may say ‘I use it as a tool because I work at a moving company and I have to cut a lot of boxes apart.”
Slovenkay said that would make the person carrying it less likely to be charged with carrying a concealed weapon because he has a logical, realistic reason for carrying it other than as a weapon.
Therein lies the rub. Instead of protecting a citizen’s God-given right to carry the tools of their choice with the presumption of innocence, Instead they must justify themselves to authorities, when asked “Why do you need X?”. It might be funny to answer “Because Fuck You” from behind the safety of a keyboard, the reality is different for a host of reasons.
While it is one’s natural right to carry whatever tools they wish, and those qualifying as “arms” are specifically protected by the Second Amendment, the fact is taking a confrontational posture in a public space in particular is likely to draw even further scrutiny. Staying calm and asserting a right to remain silent is always good advice. However, depending on your jurisdiction, simply being polite is probably the best policy. Most cops, especially around Knoxville, are not in fact jerks. Use your discretion. YMMV.
You can actually carry automatics in Ohio, the law does not prevent it. However, you would run a greater risk of running afoul of prosecutorial discretion and a hoplophobic jury with a “scary” switchblade. When I return home to Ohio, I limit my EDC to my less intimidating knives, like my Benchmade Mini-Grip. I just don’t want to deal with the potential headache. Of course I have reciprocity if I want to conceal a handgun. No one said the law needs to make sense.
Speaking of not making sense, there is a ridiculous contradiction in Ohio knife law with regards to automatics. While you can own and even technically carry one in Ohio, it is illegal to manufacture or sell them in the state. Knife Rights seeks to remedy this, and to that end has enlisted the help of State Senator Frank LaRose and several cosponsors.
From Knife Rights:
Ohio State Senator Frank LaRose today introduced, Senate Bill 242, Knife Rights’ bill to repeal Ohio’s irrational ban on the manufacture and sale of “switchblade, springblade, and gravity knives.” Ohio statutes allow for the possession and carry of these knives, but they cannot be manufactured or sold in the state. Ohio loses out on jobs and tax revenue as Ohioans spend their money outside the state’s borders. Co-sponsors include Senate President Larry Obhof and Senators Joe Uecker, John Eklund and Kris Jordan.“I am looking forward to working with Knife Rights to reform the antiquated knife laws in Ohio which prevent manufacturers here from creating jobs and expanding their facilities. This bill will help both the state and retailers generate additional revenue by allowing people to buy knives that are readily available across state lines,” said Senator LaRose. Knife Rights Director Of Legislative Affairs, Todd Rathner, was in Ohio last week conducting meetings with Senator LaRose and members of the legislature.SB 242 is the first bill filed in Knife Rights’ 2018 legislative effort. You can expect more bills to be filed in coming weeks and months. This year saw a record six bills enacted that eliminated bans on knife ownership and carry, for a total of 28 bills in 20 states in the past eight years. Knife Rights really is rewriting knife law in America™ with your support.
While I do not have inside information, I can only assume that this low-hanging fruit is the opening salvo of a broader effort to fix knife laws in the Buckeye State. Ohio is an overwhelmingly Red state, especially in the legislature, and it would seem that it would be ripe ground for Knife Rights to wage a sustained campaign. I imagine neghboring Michigan, which fully legalized switchblades this year. would have been a much heavier lift.
The Ohio State University may pwn That School Up North on the football field, The Buckeye State has a way to go to be as knife friendly as Michigan.