Quick Legal Facts
Deadly weapons may not be possessed in a polling place on any election day or on school grounds. There is no "pocketknife" exception for school grounds or polling places on election day.
At a Glance:
The Arizona statute which governs the carry of knives is § 13-3102 captioned “Misconduct involving weapons; defenses; classification; definitions.” The statute restricts the concealed carry of a “deadly weapon” defined as “anything that is designed for lethal use.” Knives may be deadly weapons.
An individual 21 or older may carry deadly weapons concealed “on the person” or in his immediate control within a vehicle unless doing so is in furtherance of a serious or violent offense. 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 years of age 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 private and 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, § 13-3102, contains eleven subsections that apply to any “deadly weapon.” Sub-parts A (1) and (2) exclude from the general concealed carry restriction “a pocket knife concealed on his person or within his immediate control in or on a means of transportation.”
Arizona law defines “means of transportation” as any vehicle, but does not provide a definition for a pocketknife. Several U.S. states have statutes that exclude ordinary” or “common” pocketknives from a given restriction. Section 13-3102 does not qualify or modify “pocketknife.” Moreover, Arizona does not provide functionality or blade length restrictions on folding knives. 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.” The sub-parts are a simple, practical approach to allow people to carry pocket knives concealed without placing themselves in legal jeopardy.
The pocketknife exclusion is not incorporated into the other subsections of § 13-3102 that restrict “deadly weapons” including the location restriction for school grounds, polling places on election day, or nuclear or hydroelectric generating stations.
As carrying a deadly weapon is not restricted for most people 21 or older, there is very little case law in Arizona regarding knives as deadly weapons where there is no antecedent criminal conduct.
The issue of what is concealed is not problematic in Arizona. Those who have reached the age of 21 may carry any knife concealed or openly. Those under 21 may carry a pocket knife concealed or within immediate access when occupying a vehicle.
Per § 13-3102 A (1), any person who has a “deadly weapon except a pocketknife” concealed on the person or within his immediate control in a vehicle has a duty to “accurately answer” the question of whether they are “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 disclosure as to any concealed knife in the event one is contacted by an Arizona law enforcement officer – even if the knife is a pocketknife or not “designed for lethal use.” There is no “downside” to accurate disclosure for persons at least 21. For a person under 21, carrying a concealed deadly weapon is a Class 3 misdemeanor (maximum $500 and 30 days) but failure to accurately answer is a Class 1 misdemeanor (maximum $2,500 and six months).
Various exceptions and limitations on the scope of the concealed carry restriction are provided in subsection B of § 13-3102. 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. If questioned by a law enforcement officer, the failure to accurately answer about the possession of a deadly weapon 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 punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and 6 months of confinement.
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 the U.S. or state military members in the performance of official duties. These various exceptions are found at § 13-3102 C.
Updated August 13, 2021, by Daniel C Lawson