Quick Legal Facts
No knife restrictions.
Four (4) inches or less legal blade length for a pocketknife which can be carried concealed.
At a Glance:
Two categories of knives are recognized by Missouri state law. “Ordinary pocketknives” are folding knives having blades not longer than four (4) inches. Ordinary pocketknives are largely unrestricted and may be carried concealed. Any other “bladed hand instrument” is a “knife” within the statutory definition at 571.010 (12). Such items are subject to numerous location-based restrictions regarding concealed carry. A holder of a concealed carry weapon permit is exempt from these restrictions per 571.030 4.
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.
571.020. Possession-manufacture-transport-repair-sale of certain weapons a crime-exceptions-penalties
571.030. Unlawful use of weapons-exceptions-penalties
571.107. Permit does not authorize concealed firearms, where-penalty for violation (restricted locations for concealed carry of a “knife”)
There are no forbidden or restricted knives under Missouri state law.
Concealed carry is lawful except in specified locations or for ordinary pocket knives. (See discussion below.)
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
The sale or transfer of knives is not restricted.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances:
Two Missouri statutes establish location restrictions relative to knives. (See discussion below).
A restriction pertaining to automatic knives, defined as “switchblade” knives, was removed in 2012. Missouri state law still provides that it is a violation of state law to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell a “switchblade in violation of federal law.” The questionable Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 remains in effect in all states and some additional jurisdictions but is not violated by someone in Missouri possessing, carrying, making, transporting, repairing, sharpening, or handling an automatic knife. Moreover, it is not violated by a merchant in Missouri who sells automatic knives over the counter to their customers. Commerce beyond this may violate Federal law.
Provided a given automatic knife does not feature a blade longer than 4 inches, it should be an “ordinary pocket knife” under 571.010 (12).
The issue of concealment is almost always a question to be answered by a jury. This includes “pocket clip carry.” The test in Missouri is whether the weapon is discernible by ordinary observation. State v Raff-Covington 410 S.W. 3d 268 (2013). The opinion provides additional guidance in State v Bateman 526 S.W. 3d 357 (2017).
Missouri law 571.030 Unlawful use of weapons, exceptions, penalties provides:
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;
A “knife,” per the 571.010 (12) definition (see above), may not be carried concealed in any area where firearms are restricted. 571.107. A permit does not authorize concealed firearms, where-penalty for violation lists 17 locations. We have condensed the lists as follows:
(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. . .
(2) Within twenty-five feet of any polling place on any election day. . .
(3) The facility of any adult or juvenile detention or correctional institution, prison, or jail. . .
(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 . . .
(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. . .
(6) The general assembly, supreme court, county or municipality may by rule, administrative regulation, or ordinance prohibit or limit the carrying of concealed firearms by permit or endorsement holders in that portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by that unit of government. . . The statute, rule or ordinance shall exempt any building used for public housing by private persons, highways or rest areas, firing ranges, and private dwellings owned, leased, or controlled by that unit of government from any restriction on the carrying or possession of a firearm. . .
(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. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to the licensee of said establishment. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any bona fide restaurant open to the general public having dining facilities for not less than fifty persons and that receives at least fifty-one percent of its gross annual income from the dining facilities by the sale of food. . .
(8) Any area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property. . .
(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 pursuant to rules promulgated by the gaming commission. . .
(13) Any gated area of an amusement park. . .
(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. . .
(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 of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch. . . An employer may prohibit employees or other persons holding a concealed carry permit or endorsement from carrying a concealed firearm in vehicles owned by the employer. . .
(16) Any sports arena or stadium with a seating capacity of five thousand or more. . .
(17) Any hospital accessible by the public. . .
One should take careful notice of subsections (6) and (15) as listed above. Local governing bodies and private landowners may impose restrictions. This would include both public and private schools.
In most instances, if the firearm remains in an automobile and is not brandished, no criminal violation arises under 571.107. Presumably, the same result would obtain for a “knife” that remains concealed in an automobile and “unbrandished.”
In the case of State v Meyers 333 S.W.3d 39 (2010), the court held that an ordinary pocket knife could be a “weapon readily capable of lethal use” for purposes of subsection 1 (4) of 571.030, which provides that the statute is violated if one:
Exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.
A heightened awareness of “brandishing” has been obtained in Missouri since June 2020 when a group of protestors approaching the home of the St. Louis Mayor veered onto the residential property of Mark and Patricia McCloskey after breaking a gate. Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey confronted the protestors after arming themselves, respectively, with a rifle and a pistol. No firearms were discharged, and no one was injured. Although the protesters were arguably committing criminal trespass, and the sub-section does not apply to someone engaged in a lawful act of self-defense, the McCloskeys were charged with “brandishing” under 571.030, a class E felony.
We suggest caution when handling a knife while in the view of others under politically charged or otherwise lively circumstances.
Law Enforcement / Military
571.030 2 provides various exemptions for state and local law enforcement. Prosecuting officials, judges, coroners, medical examiners, parole officers, and corrections officers are among those included. National Guard and U.S. Military members on duty are also exempt. We urge all those who may be included to review the statute and become informed about the scope thereof.
A concealed carry violation under 570.030 is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum jail term of 6 months and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. A “brandishing” violation is a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years of confinement and a fine of $10,000.
Updated October 13, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson