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How do you carry a knife openly?

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by Pteronarcyd, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    Part 1 of 2

    I live in suburban metropolitan Seattle. Washington state relevant law on bladed weapons is short:

    RCW 9.41.250
    Dangerous weapons—Penalty.

    (1) Every person who:
    (a) Manufactures, sells, or disposes of or possesses any ... spring blade knife;
    (b) Furtively carries with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, ... or other dangerous weapon ...
    (2) ... A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.

    RCW 9.41.270
    Weapons apparently capable of producing bodily harm—Unlawful carrying or handling—Penalty—Exceptions.

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any ... dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, ... or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.
    ... .

    continued in reply below
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  2. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    Part 2 of 2

    RCW 9.94A.825
    Deadly weapon special verdict—Definition.

    For purposes of this section, a deadly weapon is an implement or instrument which has the capacity to inflict death and from the manner in which it is used, is likely to produce or may easily and readily produce death. The following instruments are included in the term deadly weapon: ... any dirk, dagger, ... any knife having a blade longer than three inches, any razor with an unguarded blade ... .

    While state law is silent on what sort of non-dagger and non-dirk knives are deemed dangerous weapons, my county falls into Washington Court Appellate Division I, which has determined, since any knife with a blade in excess of 3 inches is deemed deadly under RCW 9.94A.825, that such knives are considered dangerous weapons under RCW 9.41.250(1)(b). The effect of this decision means the only way to lawfully carry any knife with a blade longer than 3 inches is to do so openly.

    To complicate matters a bit, the city of Seattle defines any fixed-blade knife to be a dangerous weapon, regardless of blade length, defines any other knife with a blade longer than 3.5 inches as a dangerous weapon, and prohibits the carry of any and all dangerous knives (with certain specific exemptions that do not apply to me).

    Thus, in my environs I can carry any knife concealed as long as its blade is no longer than 3 inches and I stay out of Seattle, and I can lawfully openly carry a folding knife with up to a 3.5-inch blade without worrying whether my wanderings will take me 10 miles west into the city limits of Seattle.

    Question: How does one carry a folding pocket knife openly? Is there such a thing as a transparent forehead sheath?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  3. gunspease

    gunspease Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 9, 2002
    My understanding of how the law worked in Oregon is that the pocket clip showing was enough for not concealing.
  4. 420 Stainless

    420 Stainless

    Mar 5, 2019
    "My understanding of how the law worked in Oregon is that the pocket clip showing was enough for not concealing."

    Oregon law has its quirks. Clip showing is not concealed even if covered by a coat, shirt. Neck knives with blades under a specified length are lawful, but I can't tell you what the lawful specified blade length is. In my book, neck knives are pointless as a defensive weapon.

    Along those same lines, in Oregon "open carry" of firearms is lawful and a gun in a holster carried on the belt (not the ankle or in a shoulder holster) is not "concealed" even if covered by a shirt or jacket.

    Fixed blade in a belt sheath is not considered "concealed" in Oregon, even if covered by a shirt or jacket. Oregon police refer to this as "the mackinaw law."

    Oregon Concealed Handgun Permit is valid ONLY for handguns and does not apply to concealed long-guns or knives.
  5. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    gunspease and 420 Stainless,

    Thanks for the Oregon perspective. Logically, it seems reasonable that a visible pocket-knife clip should be deemed open carry, but I can see the clip being obscured by shirt tail or jacket being potentially problematic, if the intent is to conceal.

    Washington allows firearms to be openly carried, but I have a concealed pistol license and opt to carry concealed to avoid unwanted attention. I used to be an inveterate shirt tail tucker inner, but carry my compact sidearm in a outside-the-waistband holster for comfort, so I rarely tuck my shirts in these days. The purpose for not doing so is to conceal my sidearm, not my pocket knife, but the clip does get concealed regardless.

    If I choose knives with blades that do not exceed 3.0 inches, and avoid carrying any fixed blade into Seattle, I cannot run afoul of the law; but, there are plenty of pocket knives with longer blades that would be nice to own. Even the 3-inch limit is not really problematic, as it seems to only come into play to enhance a sentence for a felony committed while armed. I've managed to avoid committing any felony so far, so could carry up to a 3.5-inch folding blade in Seattle without worry.

    Vancouver is the only other city in Washington that has stricter knife laws than those of the state. As I recall, if you are caught with a pocket knife with a blade longer than 3 inches in your glovebox, as an example, you are in deep trouble. Fortunately, I don't get to Vancouver often, but I imagine thousands of people drive through there every day unaware they are committing a serious knife crime.
  6. Gaifoqs


    Mar 27, 2019
    Very interesting perspectives from the PNW. My own state (TX), while having some of the most relaxed gun laws, had some of the strictes knife laws until 2017 where all prohibitions were repealed. With all the prohibited language removed from TX statute, anyone over 18 can legally carry even a sword with no problems. I've walked into a gas station just before or just after going on a hike in the mountains with a BK-7 strapped to my belt, in full view of an LEO shopping inside. I don't even get a second glance. They don't care if it's concealed or openly carried, it makes no difference as there is no distinction in the language. From what I recall, the only time it comes into play is if it is used in the commission of a crime. Now, the most awesome state when it comes to knife carry is Arizona, to which I go often for backpacking and camping. You can carry anything at any time in any manner at any age, no one cares. Just tell an LEO you have it if they ask. And likely they won't.

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