Quick Legal Facts
Certain weapons may not be carried concealed or "displayed in a threatening manner."
Knives are prohibited under various school district rules.
At a Glance:
The sparse body of Maine knife law applies to any Bowie knife, dirk, stiletto, and other such knives “usually employed in the attack on, or defense of a person.” A knife within this class cannot lawfully be carried concealed. While such a knife may be carried openly, it must not be displayed “in a threatening manner.” No other statewide restrictions obtain.
25 M.R.S.A. § 2001-A. Threatening display of or carrying concealed weapon
Knives restricted per § 2001-A (1) include any “bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person”.
It is a Class D crime to wear under the person’s clothes or conceal about the person a knife described above as restricted.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances:
Court facilities to include any buildings under the control or supervision of the Maine Judicial Branch per Order JB-05-9. Schools.
The prohibition applicable to automatic knives in Maine was repealed effective October 15, 2015. Such knives are accordingly not restricted and not included in the category of knives “usually employed” for anti-personnel purposes per § 2001-A (1). Automatic knives may be carried concealed or openly.
Bowie Knife, Dirk, Stiletto
Bowie knives, dirks, and stilettos are listed as knives that may neither be carried concealed nor displayed in a threatening manner. No definitions for the types mentioned are provided by statute. The same restrictions apply to “other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.”
The Maine Supreme Court held in the case of State v Jones, 46 A.3d 1125 (2012) that the issue of whether a given knife is restricted under the “other dangerous or deadly weapon” residual clause requires a “fact-specific inquiry” to determine:
1. Whether the knife is designed for use against human beings,
2. Whether its primary function is to attack or defend a person, or
3. Whether a knife has been modified to fall within the above criteria.
Knives Used to Hunt, Fish, or Trap
The concealed carry restriction does not apply to knives “used to hunt, fish, or trap” per the exception provided by § 2001-A (2)(C). The wording of this section does not limit or condition the exemption to participation in the pursuits described.
Display in a Threatening Manner
§ 2001-A (1)(A) provides that it is unlawful to “display in a threatening manner” any “bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.” A search reveals no appeal court cases in which this sub-section was an issue.
Title 17-A of the Maine Criminal Code contains § 209. Criminal threatening which provides:
A person is guilty of criminal threatening if he intentionally or knowingly places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.
§ 2001-A (1)(A) and § 209 are both Class D crimes under Maine law. § 209 has been the subject of significant appeal court attention and is apparently the preferred vehicle for addressing threatening behavior.
Obviously, one in possession of any knife should try to avoid causing unnecessary anxiety among those in proximity.
The “concealment” aspect § 2001-A provides that it is unlawful to “Wear under the person’s clothes or conceal about the person’s person” any knife described above as restricted. Knives of the type used for hunting, fishing, or fur trapping are excluded and may be carried concealed. Moreover, knives that are not designed for, or usually employed in the attack or defense of a human may be carried under one’s clothes or concealed.
A Class D crime, which includes § 2001-A, is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Law Enforcement / Military
No applicable knife exemptions for law enforcement or military members.
Updated August 24, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson