Quick Legal Facts
Concealment is a factor if one is in possession of a concealed weapon when contacted by the police or within the residence of another person.
It is a violation for a person to knowingly possess a deadly weapon or a defensive weapon on school grounds without the permission of the Chief Administrative Officer of the school district.
At a Glance:
Alaska does not restrict the possession or carry of knives by persons 21 or older. Alaska law does impose some limited obligations on individuals who are in possession of concealed knives, but not ordinary pocketknives, when contacted by a law enforcement officer or entering the residence of another.
Relevant Statutes: Title 11, Chapter 61 Article 2 “Weapons and Explosives”
11.61.200. Misconduct involving weapons in the third degree
11.61.210. Misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree
11.61.220. Misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree
11.81.900. Definitions (provides definitions for: gravity knife, switchblade, deadly weapon, and defensive weapon)
29.35.145. Regulation of firearms and knives (preemption of local regulation)
Modest age-based restrictions for “gravity knives” and “switchblade” knives.
Concealed carry is not a significant issue for people 21 and older. A person under the age of 21 may not carry a concealed deadly weapon including gravity or switchblade knives. Ordinary pocketknives are excluded from this restriction. An exception also exists for “lawful outdoor activity that necessarily involves the carrying of a weapon for personal protection.”
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
It is unlawful to sell or transfer a switchblade or a gravity knife to a person under 18 years of age without the prior written consent of the person’s parent or guardian per § 11.61.210.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations/Circumstances:
Deadly weapons to include all knives are prohibited on school grounds pre-school through secondary without written permission from the chief administrative officer of the school district per 11.61.210.
Yes. Alaska State law regarding knives preempts local regulation.
Definitions for “gravity” and “switchblade” knives are provided in § 11.81.900. Definitions. In each instance, the definitions include a “bias toward closure” exception. Accordingly, “assisted openers” are not subject to the gravity and switchblade restrictions. (Additional information regarding bias toward closure is available on the AKTI website at https://www.akti.org/resources/additional-definitions/).
The statutory definition for a deadly weapon in § 11.81.900 is:
“deadly weapon” means any firearm, or anything designed for and capable of causing death or serious physical injury, including a knife, an axe, a club, metal knuckles, or an explosive. (underlining supplied)
All knives are deadly weapons under Alaska law. Liddicoat v State of Alaska, 268 P.3d 355, (2011). Several provisions of the Alaska statutes pertaining to “Weapons and Explosives” contain an “ordinary pocketknife exclusion.” There is neither a statutory, nor a decisional or court-adopted definition or description for “ordinary pocket-knife.”
Alaska law does distinguish between switchblades or gravity knives and ordinary pocketknives. Moreover, the “bias toward closure” exceptions in the statutory definitions for switchblades and gravity knives indicate that one hand and assisted opening technologies are ordinary under Alaska law. One may logically conclude that folding knives that may be carried in a pocket or handbag and are not within the switchblade and gravity definitions are “ordinary pocket- knives.”
Concealed carry of deadly weapons is an option for individuals 21 and older. Section 11.61.220 (e) provides this definition for concealment:
For purposes of this section, a deadly weapon on a person is concealed if it is covered or enclosed in any manner so that an observer cannot determine that it is a weapon without removing it from that which covers or encloses it or without opening, lifting, or removing that which covers or encloses it; a deadly weapon on a person is not concealed if it is an unloaded firearm encased in a closed container designed for transporting firearms
Whether a hypothetical “observer cannot determine” that a visible pocket clip is part of a knife is a judgment call. A fixed blade knife in a sheath suspended from a waist belt and covered by one’s coat would probably be considered as concealed under the definition. If there is no covering clothing, the same fixed blade knife in the sheath would likely be unconcealed.
Possession of a concealed deadly weapon – except for an ordinary pocket-knife – imposes a duty upon the possessor when “contacted by a peace officer” to ”immediately inform the peace officer of that possession” per § 11.61.220. One must also allow the peace officer to secure the weapon or comply with the officer’s instruction for securing the weapon for the duration of the contact. “Contacted by a peace officer” means “stopped, detained, questioned, or addressed in person by the peace officer for an official purpose.”
This same section requires that one in possession of a deadly weapon concealed on the person refrain from entering the residence of another person without the express permission of an adult residing therein to “bring a concealed deadly weapon within the residence.” Such permission is not required if one is in possession of a concealed ordinary pocketknife. Express in this context means stated or written as opposed to implied. We note that should the need for a substantial fixed blade knife arise while visiting the residence of another, such a knife will likely be readily available in the kitchen.
Law Enforcement /Military
The restrictions regarding deadly weapon possession on school grounds do not apply to a peace officer acting in the scope and authority of the officer’s employment.
Violations of § 11.61.210. Misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree, which include providing a switchblade or gravity knife to a minor and possession of a deadly weapon on school grounds, are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Violations of § 11.61.220. Misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree, which include the failure to disclose concealed deadly weapons when contacted by a peace officer or obtain express permission before entering the residence of another, and possession of a concealed deadly weapon by someone less than 21 are Class B misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Updated March 2, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson