Quick Legal Facts
Ohio law provides that one may not carry in a concealed manner a "deadly weapon," as that term is statutorily defined.
Ohio law prohibits the possession of a "deadly weapon" on school grounds.
The Ohio State Constitution recognizes an individual right for the people to keep and bear arms.
The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.
OH Const. Arl. I, § 4
The Ohio statutory law regarding knives and edged arms is found at Chapter 2923 (Weapons Control).
Ballistic knives, as defined in R.C. § 2923.11(J), are forbidden as dangerous ordnance.
It is illegal to manufacture, possess for sale, sell or furnish a “switchblade knife, spring blade knife, gravity knife, or similar weapon;”. (other than for police work) R.C. § 2923.20(A)(3). The bias toward closure language, which was incorporated into the Federal Switchblade Act in 2009, and which served to qualify or amend the definition of switchblades in various American jurisdictions, is not part of Ohio law.
Ohio law provides that one may not carry in a concealed manner a “deadly weapon,” as that term is statutorily defined. The concealed weapon prohibition, including the affirmative defense subpart, makes no mention of knives.
(A) No person shall knowingly carry or have, concealed on the person’s person or concealed ready at hand, any of the following:
(1) A deadly weapon other than a handgun;
(2) A handgun other than a dangerous ordnance;
(3) A dangerous ordnance.
(D) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under division
(A)(1) of this section of carrying or having control of a weapon other than a handgun and other than a dangerous ordnance that the actor was not otherwise prohibited by law from having the weapon and that any of the following applies:
(1) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for defensive purposes while the actor was engaged in or was going to or from the actor’s lawful business or occupation, which business or occupation was of a character or was necessarily carried on in a manner or at a time or place as to render the actor particularly susceptible to criminal attack, such as would justify ~ prudent person in going armed.
(2) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for defensive purposes while the actor was engaged in a lawful activity and had reasonable cause to fear a criminal attack upon the actor, a member of the actor’s family, or the actor’s home, such as would justify a prudent person in going armed.
(3) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for any lawful purpose and while in the actor’s own home.
R.C. § 2923.12
Deadly weapon is defined as follows:
(A) Deadly weapon means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.
R.C. § 2923.11(A)
There are numerous cases which have been addressed in Ohio courts where a person carrying a conventional folding knife has been charged with possession of a deadly weapon. In general, the courts engage in an analysis of the three elements of the deadly weapon definition, and in particular:
1. — is the knife capable of inflicting death;
2. –is the knife designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon; or
3. –possess, carried, or used as a weapon.
As a practical matter, the universe of everyday common objects capable of being used to inflict death is limitless. The ultimate determination rarely is dependent on this element. Most of the reported cases focus on whether the knife is designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon. In that regard, there are a number of cases that stand for the proposition that a knife easily opened with one hand may be considered as having been designed or adapted for use as a weapon. In the case of State of Ohio v. Cattledge, a conventional folding knife with a thumb stud was found to be a deadly weapon. The court identified the following characteristics which may support a find that a folding knife is a deadly weapon:
(1) a blade that can be easily opened with one hand;
(2) a blade that locks into position;
(3) a blade that is serrated;
(4) a blade tip that is sharp;
(5) an additional design element on the blade, such as a hole that aids in unfolding the knife with one hand;
(6) does not resemble an “ordinary” pocketknife; and
(7) is a type of knife considered a weapon.
State of Ohio v. Cattledge, 2010 Ohio 4953
The problem presented by Ohio law, as it applies to the concealed carry of knives, is that it is extremely subjective and dependent upon the fact finder, whether it be a judge or a jury.
Also, the third element of the deadly weapon definition, and in particular, whether the knife is carried or used as a weapon, often involves an examination of the defendant’s purpose for having the knife. In most instances, it appears that the defendant must affirmatively demonstrate some justification for having the knife.
Ohio law prohibits the possession of a “deadly weapon” on school grounds. R. C. § 2923. 122.
City of Akron v. Rasdan
105 Ohio App. 3d 164 (decided June 21, 1995)
City ordinance banning knives violates substantive due process.