Mississippi is a mostly free and open state from the viewpoint of a knife owner, though its concealed carry laws place some limits on hiding larger blade types. The state does not forbid owning any kind of knife or blade, not even the often-banned gravity knives, switchblades, or ballistic knives. Knife ownership is restricted, though not completely disallowed, for convicted felons, as well as minors under the age of 18 years. Open carry rights are very robust, with a few exceptions.
State law fails to preempt local ordinances that govern the carrying of blades, however. While many municipalities are perfectly content to leave knife legislation to the umbrella laws provided by the state, some issue their own codes. These are usually tighter and less permissive than the state’s, often focusing on further limiting concealed carry. A knife owner may encounter varying legalities as they move from town to town.
Legality of Knife Possession
All adults (those 18 years old or older) who have no felony convictions on their record can own any kind of knife they wish. They can dispose of these knives as desired also, buying, selling, trading, or giving away blades as they see fit. The one exception is that it is illegal to give or sell a switchblade, dirk, butcher knife, or a Bowie knife to a minor (person younger than 18) or to an individual who is intoxicated at the time of the transfer, according to Mississippi Code section § 97-37-13.
Mississippians who meet the age criterion and have never been convicted of a felony can own gravity knives, Bowie knives, swords, machetes, hunting knives, fishing knives, dive knives, KA-BAR knives, single-edged and double-edged fixed blade knives, throwing stars, sword canes, disguised knives, switchblades, balisong knives, ballistic knives, or a plain, everyday folding pocket knife without bells and whistles.
A convicted felon’s knife ownership choices are only slightly more limited. A felon cannot own a dirk, switchblade, Bowie knife, or butcher knife. Otherwise, their rights to own, buy, and sell knives are unrestricted.
Open carry is permitted by state law, with no state limits on length, knife configuration, or other details. A person may not brandish a knife at another in a threatening manner, or carry a knife primarily to inflict harm on others except in self-defense. Schools, courthouses, properly posted government buildings, and prisons are naturally off-limits for any kind of knife carrying, open or concealed.
Knife Length Limit
Mississippi law does not place length limits on knife blades, though the concealed carry laws tend to ban concealed carry of larger knife types without explicitly setting a limit in inches.
Concealed Carry of Knives
Concealed carry in the Magnolia State is given a thorough legal treatment in Mississippi Code § 97-37-1, which lays out an unusually clear framework for determining the legality of carrying a hidden weapon. Concealed carry is allowed to anyone 18 years or older with any knife or weapon while that person is in their home, at their place of business, on real property attached to either of those locations, or, unusually, while inside a motor vehicle.
Outside these areas, it is illegal to concealed carry a Bowie knife (any large single-edged fixed blade knife), dirk knife (large double-edged fixed blade knife), butcher knife (undefined but largely self-explanatory), or switchblade. Since metal knuckles are mentioned separately, World War I trench knives and other knives with finger rings are also prohibited.
A special exemption is made for sporting knives being carried directly for a sporting purpose. Hunting and fishing knives fall into this category, but rare circumstances could temporarily “legalize” other blades. For example, carrying a Bowie knife concealed to a publicly organized Bowie knife throwing contest would provide a temporary exemption.
Other Knife Law Considerations in Mississippi
With no preemption rule existing, some of Mississippi’s local governments have passed ordinances adding extra boundaries to legal concealed carry. Tupelo, MS, for example, disallows concealed knives with blades longer than 3.5”, while Vicksburg sets the limit at 4” for a concealed blade.
Overall, Mississippi offers extensive rights to knife owners, including nearly unlimited open carry for non-felons over the age of 18. The only major future extension to knife rights would be passage of a preemption bill curtailing strict local knife regulations.
Resources and Further Reading