Knife Laws in Arizona

Arizona’s knife laws lean heavily in the direction of knife rights in a way similar to those of Alaska, though its cactus and yucca-dotted desert is far different from Alaska’s pines and snow. Section 13-3102 of Arizona state law, “Misconduct involving weapons,” provides very broad possession and concealment rights for knife owners within the Grand Canyon State’s boundaries. This law essentially gives anyone 21 years of age or older the right to own and carry – openly or concealed – any knife or bladed weapon, with no restriction on blade length.

The other critical piece of Arizona legislation is an amendment to the Arizona State Statutes, Section 1, Title 13, chapter 31, which involves insertion of section 13-3120, which covers legislative preemption. This section declares that Arizona state law overrides and nullifies any local or municipal law regulating knives which differs from the state law.

Together, these two sections give a green light to knife carrying and possession which is applied uniformly across the entire state, without complex alterations by local legislative bodies. A knife legal in one place in Arizona is legal everywhere, greatly increasing convenience and legal security for knife owners.

Legality of Knife Possession

Arizona makes no legal distinctions whatsoever between knives based on their length, closure mechanisms (or lack of them), or other features such as number of edges. Pocket knives, gravity knives, switchblades, Bowie knives, KA-BAR knives, hunting blades, and even swords are permissible, open carried or concealed.

Age is the main factor determining if knife possession is legal in Arizona. People 21 years old or older can own, buy, sell, or carry any type of knife or blade at their own discretion. Those 20 years old or younger can concealed carry a pocket knife only. Though not specifically defined by the law, pocket knives are generally interpreted by law enforcement as folding knives which must be manually pulled open rather than opening with centrifugal force (gravity knives) or with the use of a spring-loaded catch or button (switchblades).

Knives are illegal to carry in the commission of a crime or act of terrorism. Further, if asked by a peace officer if they are armed, an individual must inform the officer of any knives they are carrying in addition to guns and so forth. Knives may not be carried in a school or on school grounds, inside a hydroelectric or nuclear facility except with the approval of the facility’s administrators, or at a public gathering such as a fair.

Section 13-3120, regarding knife law preemption, permits local governments to pass laws or regulations about knives only in two narrow cases. The first allows ordinances to help collect taxes and regulate businesses selling knives, though in the same manner as other businesses selling physical goods locally. The second enables municipalities to regulate whether or not their employees and contractors can carry knives while working.

Knife Length Limit

Arizona imposes no legal knife length limit, and thanks to the preemption rule, local governments are forbidden to impose such limits, also. However, the fact that people under 21 may only legally possess and carry “pocket knives” implies that such knives must be small enough to fit into a pocket, placing a de facto limit on blade size in some cases.

Concealed Carry of Knives

Knife owners 21 years old or older can carry their blades openly or concealed with no legal repercussions. Concealed carry (and open carry) are illegal on a limited range of sites, however, including schools, hydroelectric and nuclear facilities, and the grounds of organized public gatherings. People up to 20 years of age can carry their pocket knife concealed, but no other weapons. A peace officer may ask if a person is armed, in which case all concealed knives and guns must be verbally disclosed.

Other Knife Law Considerations in Arizona

Arizona is a clearly knife-friendly state whose recent legislation comes down firmly in favor of nearly unlimited knife rights. The preemption principle ensures that knife owners need not fear running afoul of contradictory local ordinances while moving around the state. For anyone over 21, the 48th state offers almost total freedom in choosing the size and configuration of any blade they wish to carry for work, defense, or other non-criminal reasons.

Resources and Further Reading

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/13/03102.htm&Title=13&DocType=ARS
http://www.kniferights.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=104&Itemid=1
http://www.azccw.com/WhereCanICarry.htm
http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/USKnife.pdf