Missouri State Knife Laws


Missouri is a state that is generally permissive when it comes to knives and knife ownership, but one with troubling restrictions that create two sets of standards for carry depending on whether or not you have a concealed weapons permit.

Also the state law covering switchblades is entirely dependent upon federal regulations on the same, never a good standard when it comes to state law.

Missouri flag

Despite this, you will have plenty of leeway when it comes to knife selection and carry even lacking a permit, and even though we see the usual “ordinary pocketknife” definition pop up we at least get a blade length restriction to accompany it.

Still, things are not sunshine and roses for knife carriers who lack a concealed weapons permit in the state of Missouri, and we highly recommend you get one if you are planning on carrying anything more intimidating than a folding Buck knife, or a Swiss Army knife.

We will give you just the facts in the sections below.

What You Need to Know

  • What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: Any kind of knife. Note: Switchblades, butterfly knives and assisted opening knives have questionable ownership status in Missouri.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Any “ordinary pocketknife” with a blade 4” long or less.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Yes, any knife that you may legally possess.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Yes, any knife that you may legally possess.

General Ownership

Any kind of knife is legal to own in the state of Missouri, with the possible exception of switchblades.

Included in the definition of knife is dagger, dirk, stiletto and bladed hand instrument, qualified as being capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death through cutting or stabbing.

Used throughout the chapter, the word knife does not include any ordinary pocket knife with a blade that is no longer than 4 inches.

With that opens automatically by pressure applied to a button or other device located on the handle. Also included in the definition of switchblade knife that opens or releases from the handle or the sheath by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.

In all likelihood, butterfly knives are included by virtue in the definition of switchblade.

Later statutes make it clear that any person commits an offense if they knowingly manufacture, transport or possess a switchblade knife it’s done in violation of federal law.

This is not much help, since the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 is extremely dense and difficult to interpret.

Therefore I cannot advise you’ll have a happy outcome if you are ever arrested and in possession of a switchblade knife and by extension an assisted opening knife or butterfly knife.

Concealed Carry, No Permit

Without a permit you may carry any knife that is defined as an ordinary pocket knife with a blade measuring 4 inch or less.

Even with the prescription on a blade length to assist us, it will be up to an arresting officer, a judge or a jury whether or not your folding knife is an ordinary pocketknife or not, so choose carefully when it comes to appearance and features if you do not have a concealed weapons permit valid in Missouri.

Concealed Carry, With Permit

If you are fortunate enough to have a concealed weapons permit issued by or valid in the state of Missouri, you can carry any other kind of legal knife you desire, beyond an ordinary pocket knife.

You still may not possess a switchblade or any other knife falling under that definition, but you do gain significantly more leeway when it comes to the style of knife you are allowed to carry, and where you are allowed to carry it.

Open Carry

You may open carry any kind of legal knife in the state of Missouri.

Prohibited Places

Missouri is notable for its long list of prohibited places when it comes to the carry of weapons, knives included among them.

With few exceptions, you may not carry your knife:

  • into any police or sheriff’s department,
  • to within 25 feet of any polling place on Election Day,
  • into any juvenile detention facility, prison, or jail,
  • into any courthouse or courtroom,
  • into any meeting of a governing body, general assembly or committee unless you are a member,
  • into any place that dispenses alcohol for consumption on premises,
  • into any place where the carry of firearms is prohibited by federal law,
  • into any school,
  • into any childcare facility,
  • into any gambling facility,
  • into any gated amusement park,
  • into any church,
  • into any sports arena or stadium that seats 5,000 people or more,
  • or into any publicly-accessible hospital.

Assessment

Missouri is an alright state for knife owners and the carry of knives, but there are definitely two sets of standards for people who have, and people who lack a concealed weapons permit.

Even for those lacking a concealed weapons permit it is far from the most restrictive state, but a fairly dodgy definition of ordinary pocketknife means you’ll always be walking on eggshells.

As distasteful as it is considered obtaining, a concealed weapons permit is mandatory if you want smooth sailing while carrying a knife in Missouri.

Important Missouri State Statutes

Chapter 571 – Weapons Offenses Section 571.010 Definitions.

571.010. Definitions. — As used in this chapter, the following terms shall mean:

(…)

(12) “Knife”, any dagger, dirk, stiletto, or bladed hand instrument that is readily capable of inflicting serious physical injury or death by cutting or stabbing a person. For purposes of this chapter, “knife” does not include any ordinary pocketknife with no blade more than four inches in length;

(…)

(15) “Projectile weapon”, any bow, crossbow, pellet gun, slingshot or other weapon that is not a firearm, which is capable of expelling a projectile that could inflict serious physical injury or death by striking or piercing a person;

(…)

(20) “Switchblade knife”, any knife which has a blade that folds or closes into the handle or sheath, and:

(a) That opens automatically by pressure applied to a button or other device located on the handle; or

(b) That opens or releases from the handle or sheath by the force of gravity or by the application of centrifugal force.

571.020. Possession–manufacture–transport–repair–sale of certain weapons a crime—exceptions–penalties.

1. A person commits an offense if such person knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:

(…)

(6) Any of the following in violation of federal law:

(…)

(d) A switchblade knife.

571.030. Unlawful use of weapons — exceptions — penalties.

1. A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons, except as otherwise provided by sections 571.101 to 571.121, if he or she knowingly:

(1) Carries concealed upon or about his or her person a knife, a firearm, a blackjack or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use into any area where firearms are restricted under section 571.107; or

(…)

(4) Exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner; or

2. Subdivisions (1), (8), and (10) of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to the persons described in this subsection, regardless of whether such uses are reasonably associated with or are necessary to the fulfillment of such person’s official duties except as otherwise provided in this subsection. Subdivisions (3), (4), (6), (7), and (9) of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to or affect any of the following persons, when such uses are reasonably associated with or are necessary to the fulfillment of such person’s official duties, except as otherwise provided in this subsection:

4. Subdivisions (1), (8), and (10) of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to any person who has a valid concealed carry permit issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to 571.121, a valid concealed carry endorsement issued before August 28, 2013, or a valid permit or endorsement to carry concealed firearms issued by another state or political subdivision of another state.

571.107. Permit does not authorize concealed firearms, where — penalty for violation.

1. A concealed carry permit issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to 571.121, a valid concealed carry endorsement issued prior to August 28, 2013, or a concealed carry endorsement or permit issued by another state or political subdivision of another state shall authorize the person in whose name the permit or endorsement is issued to carry concealed firearms on or about his or her person or vehicle throughout the state. No concealed carry permit issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to 571.121, valid concealed carry endorsement issued prior to August 28, 2013, or a concealed carry endorsement or permit issued by another state or political subdivision of another state shall authorize any person to carry concealed firearms into:

(1) Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol office or station without the consent of the chief law enforcement officer in charge of that office or station. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of the office or station shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(2) Within twenty-five feet of any polling place on any election day. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of the polling place shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(3) The facility of any adult or juvenile detention or correctional institution, prison or jail. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of any adult, juvenile detention, or correctional institution, prison or jail shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(4) Any courthouse solely occupied by the circuit, appellate or supreme court, or any courtrooms, administrative offices, libraries or other rooms of any such court whether or not such court solely occupies the building in question. This subdivision shall also include, but not be limited to, any juvenile, family, drug, or other court offices, any room or office wherein any of the courts or offices listed in this subdivision are temporarily conducting any business within the jurisdiction of such courts or offices, and such other locations in such manner as may be specified by supreme court rule pursuant to subdivision (6) of this subsection. (…)

(5) Any meeting of the governing body of a unit of local government; or any meeting of the general assembly or a committee of the general assembly, except that nothing in this subdivision shall preclude a member of the body holding a valid concealed carry permit or endorsement from carrying a concealed firearm at a meeting of the body which he or she is a member.(…)

(7) Any establishment licensed to dispense intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises, which portion is primarily devoted to that purpose, without the consent of the owner or manager.

(9) Any place where the carrying of a firearm is prohibited by federal law;

(10) Any higher education institution or elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of the governing body of the higher education institution or a school official or the district school board, (…)

(11) Any portion of a building used as a child care facility without the consent of the manager. (…)

(12) Any riverboat gambling operation accessible by the public without the consent of the owner or manager (…)

(13) Any gated area of an amusement park. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of the amusement park shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(14) Any church or other place of religious worship without the consent of the minister or person or persons representing the religious organization that exercises control over the place of religious worship. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(15) Any private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to concealed firearms by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place (…)

(16) Any sports arena or stadium with a seating capacity of five thousand or more. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises;

(17) Any hospital accessible by the public. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of a hospital shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises.


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