Quick Legal Facts
Deadly weapons may not be possessed in a polling place on any election day or on school grounds. There is no "pocket knife" exception for school grounds or polling places on election day.
At a Glance:
Persons 21 and older may carry deadly weapons concealed on the person or in one’s immediate control within a vehicle. If such a person is contacted by a law enforcement officer, he must answer accurately if asked about possession of the weapon. This duty to disclose upon request does not apply to a pocketknife.
Persons under the age of 21 may carry a pocketknife concealed on the person or in one’s immediate control in a vehicle.
13-3102. Misconduct involving weapons; defenses; classification; definitions
13-3102.01. Storage of deadly weapons; definitions
13-3120. Knives regulated by state; state preemption; definitions
The concealed carry of knives by individuals at least 21 is not restricted but does impose a duty of disclosure. (See Concealment discussion below.)
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
It is an offense per § 13-3102 A (5) to sell or transfer a “deadly weapon” to a “prohibited person,” a term defined in § 13-3101. Definitions.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations/Circumstances:
Restricted locations for the possession of “deadly weapons” include: Non-public schools (K-12), Polling places on election days, and hydroelectric or nuclear power generating facilities.
Yes, § 13-3120.
Deadly Weapon / Pocketknife
The primary statute concerning the possession and carry of knives is § 13-3102 which contains eleven subsections that apply to any “deadly weapon.” Two of those eleven subsections include an exclusion regarding a concealed “pocket-knife.” Section 13-3101 A (1) provides the following definition for “deadly weapon”:
A. In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Deadly weapon” means anything that is designed for lethal use. The term includes a firearm.
Arizona law does not provide a definition for a pocketknife. Various U.S. states have statutes that exclude ordinary” or “common” pocketknives. Section 13-3102 does not qualify or modify “pocketknife.” Accordingly, we suggest that for purposes of § 13-3102, a pocketknife is any knife designed to be carried in a pocket or handbag.
Subsections A (1) and A (2) of § 13-3102, which include the pocketknife exclusions, should not be interpreted as a modification of the above statutory definition of a “deadly weapon.” Knives that are not within the class of pocketknives are not per se or, by definition, deadly weapons. Moreover, one should not read a pocketknife exclusion into the various other subsections of § 13-3102 that restrict “deadly weapons” such as those pertaining to deadly weapons on school grounds or at polling places.
Simple possession of a deadly weapon is not restricted for most people. Accordingly, there is very little caselaw regarding knives as deadly weapons where there is no criminal conduct apart from the possession of the knife.
The issue of what is concealed is not problematic in Arizona. People 21 and older may carry any knife concealed or openly. Per § 13-3102 A (1), any person who has a “deadly weapon except a pocket knife” concealed on the person or within his immediate control in a vehicle has a duty to “accurately answer” the question of whether he or she is “carrying a concealed deadly weapon.” This duty to accurately answer arises upon being “contacted by a law enforcement officer” in connection with a traffic stop or investigatory stop.
We suggest candor for anyone in possession of a concealed knife in the event of contact with an Arizona law enforcement officer – even if the knife is not “designed for lethal use.”
People under the age of 21 may not lawfully carry any deadly weapon, except a pocketknife, concealed on the person or within one’s immediate control in a vehicle per § 13-3102 A (2). Various exceptions and limitations on the scope of the restriction are provided in subsection B of § 13-3102. For the purpose of the restriction, a firearm is not concealed if any part of the firearm or any part of a holster, scabbard, or case in which it is carried is “partially visible.” This same rule would arguably and logically apply to knives.
It is a Class 3 misdemeanor under Arizona law for a person under 21 to carry a concealed deadly weapon. A Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days confinement and a fine of up to $500. The failure to accurately answer about the possession of a deadly weapon, if questioned by a law enforcement officer, is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months confinement and a fine of not more than $2,500.
Violations of the restrictions regarding the possession of deadly weapons on school grounds or at a polling place on the day of an election are punishable as Class 1 misdemeanors.
Law Enforcement / Military
Some of the restrictions regarding the possession of knives do not apply to peace officers or persons summoned to assist peace officers while are acting in an official capacity, corrections officers, and U.S. or state military members in the performance of official duties. These various exceptions are found at § 13-3102 C.
Updated March 18, 2020, by Daniel C Lawson