Oklahoma made certain gains in knife rights and a preemption law was signed into effect in 2015, though the old laws continue to apply until November 1st, 2015. Thanks to the new regulations, switchblade knives and other automatic knives are legal to carry openly or concealed along with ordinary pocket knives. However, both open and concealed carry of most knives is forbidden throughout the state except when hunting or fishing. Knife owners should use caution despite the new preemption law, as the state’s laws themselves are quite restrictive.
Though knife carrying rights are very limited in Oklahoma, any kind of knife or blade is perfectly legal to own, buy, sell, or carry on the owner’s private property or in their home. Since placement of a knife within reach inside a car counts as carrying, purchased knives should be locked in the trunk or placed in a locked container well out of the vehicle occupants’ reach when transporting the purchase home.
Legality of Knife Possession
The state of Oklahoma places no restrictions on knife or blade ownership. Any resident of the Sooner State can own, buy, sell, manufacture, receive, or give pocket knives, balisong knives, switchblades, gravity knives, and other automatic knives; large fixed blade knives such as Bowie knives, hunting knives, certain KA-BAR knives, daggers, and stilettos, among others; special knives such as push knives, belt-buckle knives, lipstick knives, and undetectable knives made from non-metallic materials; swords, machetes, and sword-canes; throwing knives and throwing stars; and all other blades.
Open carry and concealed carry of knives are both extremely restricted in Oklahoma. The pertinent law is § 21-1272, which declares the carrying of daggers, Bowie knives, dirks, sword-canes, switchblades, automatic knives opened by a spring or button, or any other “dangerous weapon” to be “unlawful carry,” whether the carrying is open or concealed. This law effectively bans the carrying of any knife at all with the sole exception of regular folding pocket knives. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the knife blade must be 3” long or shorter to qualify as a pocket knife regardless of the knife’s other features.
After November 1st, 2015, Bill HB-1911 will go into effect, amending section § 21-1272 to make carrying switchblades and automatic knives legal.
Section § 21-1272 provides several exemptions in its subsections. Peace officers on duty can carry knives otherwise banned by the law, while people actually engaged in hunting or fishing are lawfully permitted to carry hunting or fishing knives while occupied with these sports. The presence of hunting or fishing gear and the location where carrying occurs obviously has a strong bearing on whether or not such carrying is legal.
All knives are illegal to carry on school grounds or in a school unless officially allowed as part of a school project or training program.
Knife Length Limit
Oklahoma imposes no official length on knife blades, likely because most carrying is illegal in any case. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the police interpret folding knives with blades 3” or less in length to be ordinary pocket knives and therefore legal to carry. A similar unofficial length limit is likely to be applied to switchblades and automatic knives once they are legalized.
Concealed Carry of Knives
Concealed carry of knives is not an issue in Oklahoma because carrying of most knives is illegal regardless of whether or not they are readily visible.
Other Knife Law Considerations in Oklahoma
Statewide preemption of all ordinances and local laws relating to knives will occur on November 1st, 2015 in Oklahoma due to the passage of bill HB-1460, which extends the existing preemption law regarding firearms and other weapons. Until that time, local ordinances continue in force, though many of these are actually less strict than state law. For example, Lawton, OK allows knives with blades up to 6” long. Preemption and the legalization of switchblade carry are the two defining legal changes all knife owners living in or traveling to Oklahoma should take into consideration.
Resources and Further Reading