Arkansas is a predominantly knife friendly state, one that has a few regulations regarding ownership, carry, and concealment of knives.
This was not always the case, but thanks to a concerted effort back in 2011, the state now enjoys far less restrictions and broader inclusivity when it comes to concealed carry. The expansion of natural rights is always welcome, but Arkansas still has a little way to go.
The state does little to regulate the style, action and type of knife that one can carry but it does have a blade length restriction. Generally speaking, you want to keep the blade of any knife you are carrying less than 3 inches long thanks to some cloudily worded statutes.
Carrying a knife that is 3 inches or longer might see you fall under the state’s purview of unlawful intent, and therefore you could be committing a crime- with or without a concealed weapons permit!
The state is also fairly notorious for strong regulations against carrying any kind of weapon in any public building, place or facility.
What You Need to Know
- What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: Any kind of knife.
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Any kind of knife with a blade less than 3 inches long.
- Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Any kind of knife with a blade less than 3 inches long. Possessing a weapons permit does not allow you to carry a knife with a longer blade!
- Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Any kind of knife with blade less than 3 inches.
The Arkansas state statutes covering the carry of knives need a little parsing to be fully understood.
The law clearly states that any person commits a misdemeanor offense if they carry any knife with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ said knife as a weapon against another person, and a knife is any bladed instrument with a blade that is 3 inches in length or longer.
Included in this list of knives are Bowie knives, butterfly knives, razors, daggers, gravity knives, push daggers, ballistic knives, dirks, sword-canes, picks, spikes, throwing stars, and pretty much any other bladed or pointy instrument you can think of.
This includes carry in your vehicle or otherwise on or about your person.
The operative clause, of course, that determines illegal intent is “…with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the … knife… as a weapon against a person.”
Logically it stands to reason that if you are not carrying any knife with a blade length in excess of 3 inches that you are not doing anything illegal because you are not carrying it with the intent to use it unlawfully against another.
In practice, a prosecutor could argue that you are carrying such a knife only because you intend to use it against another, and therefore the act speaks for itself.
My advice for those of you carrying knives is to keep the blade length decidedly less than 3 inches. If you do decide to carry a larger knife, you should keep it as pedestrian and unassuming in appearance, style and features as possible.
Sadly, Arkansas’s statewide preemption only applies to firearms in the statutes, not knives or any other bladed weapon. This means you will have to stay on top of local city and county laws pertaining to restrictions on knives as you travel from place to place.
This can certainly make things difficult for those of you who are on the move regularly for work or play. The knife that you carry without any issues in your home region could be specifically illegal in another part of the state!
As always, ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating it and you must endeavor to stay abreast of all laws relevant to the carry of weapons.
Concealed Carry, No Permit
Arkansas makes no practical difference between concealed carry and open carry of knives, and you can employ any kind of knife you want for any purpose though you would be strongly advised to keep the blade length under 3 inches as described above.
Concealed Carry, With Permit
Unfortunately, having a concealed weapons permit in Arkansas does nothing to alleviate the restriction on blade length, at least according to 5-73-120.
Carrying a weapon. Paragraph (c) Subsection (4) states that a person carrying an otherwise restricted knife on a “journey” (defined as travel beyond the county where one lives) is an allowable exception, but Subsection (8) in the same paragraph also states that a concealed weapons license only gives one exception to carry a handgun; it makes no mention of knives.
Unfortunately that means we cannot assume that merely possessing a concealed weapons license will give us carte blanche to carry any length of a knife that we want.
Open carry of knives in Arkansas is totally okay, although once again you must abide by the blade length restrictions described in detail above and there are no exemptions for carrying any longer blade in your vehicle, either.
Arkansas bans the carry of all deadly weapons, and that certainly includes knives, on the grounds of any public building, facility or place, including the state capitol grounds.
Also included specifically in the list of prohibited places are any sports or ball field, maintained recreational structures, courthouses, schools and school parking lots.
Arkansas is a generally knife-friendly state, but the restriction on blade length for any kind of carry along with the conspicuous lack of statewide knife law preemption is a bit of a black eye.
Also, the way Arkansas state statutes are worded there are significantly more public places, you cannot carry a knife or other deadly weapon compared to some neighboring states.
It sure feels nice to have access to any style, type or action of knife you prefer, but that abundance of choice is hampered somewhat because your blade length is always constrained to less than 3 inches if you want to be on the safe side.
Important Arkansas State Statutes
The devil is always in the details when it comes to state laws, and Arkansas is no different. Below you will find a selection of the most relevant Arkansas state laws governing the ownership and carry of knives discussed above.
I strongly recommend that you take the time to read through these and others:
5-73-120. Carrying a weapon.
(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) “Club” means any instrument that is specially designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious physical injury or death by striking, including a blackjack, billie, and sap;
(2) “Handgun” means any firearm with a barrel length of less than twelve inches
(12″) that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one (1) hand;
(3) “Journey” means travel beyond the county in which a person lives; and
(4) “Knife” means any bladed hand instrument three inches (3″) or longer that is capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death by cutting or stabbing, including a dirk, a sword or spear in a cane, a razor, an ice pick, a throwing star, a switchblade, and a butterfly knife.
(c) It is permissible to carry a weapon under this section if at the time of the act of carrying the weapon:
(1) The person is in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property in which he or she has a possessory or proprietary interest;
(4) The person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey is through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person’s checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon;
(8) The person is in possession of a concealed handgun and has a valid license to carry a concealed handgun under § 5-73-301 et seq., or recognized under § 5-73- 321 and is not in a prohibited place as defined by § 5-73-306;
(d) Carrying a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor.
5-73-122. Carrying a firearm in publicly owned buildings or facilities.
(a) (1) It is unlawful for any person other than a law enforcement officer or a security guard in the employ of the state or an agency of the state, or any city or county, or any state or federal military personnel, to knowingly carry or possess a loaded firearm or other deadly weapon in any publicly owned building or facility or on the State Capitol grounds.
(4) As used in this section, “facility” means a municipally owned or maintained park, football field, baseball field, soccer field, or another similar municipally owned or maintained recreational structure or property.
(b) (1) Any person other than a law enforcement officer, officer of the court, or bailiff, acting in the line of duty, or any other person authorized by the court, who possesses a handgun in the courtroom of any court of this state is guilty of a Class D felony.
(a) As used in this subdivision (a)(3)(C), “parking lot” means a designated area or structure or part of a structure intended for the parking of motor vehicles or a designated drop-off zone for children at school.
(b) “Parking lot” does not include a parking lot owned, maintained, or otherwise controlled by the Department of Correction or the Department of Community Correction;
Subchapter 14 – Miscellaneous Regulations § 14-54-1411 – Firearms and ammunition.
(a) As used in this section, “local unit of government” means a city, town, or county.
(b) (1) (A) A local unit of government shall not enact any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner, the ownership, transfer, transportation, carrying, or possession of firearms, ammunition for firearms, or components of firearms, except as otherwise provided in state or federal law.
(B) This shall not prevent the enactment of an ordinance regulating or forbidding the unsafe discharge of a firearm.
(2) (A) A local unit of government shall have no authority to bring suit and shall have no right to recover against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.
(B) The authority to bring any suit and the right to recover against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief shall be reserved exclusively to the State of Arkansas.
(c) (1) Notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section, the governing body of a local unit of government, following the proclamation by the Governor of a state of emergency, may enact an emergency ordinance regulating the transfer, transportation, or carrying of firearms or components of firearms.