In Article 3, Section 12, the Mississippi State Constitution authorizes and protects the right of every citizen to own and bear arms. The generally written constitutional statute applies for the defense of people and property. Under Article 3, Section 12, Mississippi legislators can regulate and prohibit the concealed carrying of weapons. Mississippi laws addressing the ownership and carrying of knives are found within the Mississippi legal code at Chapter 37, Title 97.
Overview of Mississippi Knife Laws
Most legal scholars view Mississippi as a free and open knife ownership state. However, The Magnolia State imposes a few restrictions on the concealed carrying of long types of knife blades. As far as knife ownership goes, the state does not ban any style of knife, including knives other states forbid for ownership, such as gravity and ballistic knives. The allowance of ballistic knife ownership in Mississippi contrasts to the strict regulation of the self-propelled knives put in place by other southern American states like Florida. In Mississippi, knife ownership regulations apply to felons and minors younger than 18 years old, although the regulations are not complete bans.
Knives Eligible for Legal Ownership in Mississippi
Mississippi has established the legal age for knife ownership at 18 years old. Adults that do not have any felony convictions are allowed to own, sell, and purchase any type of knife. The only exception to permissive Mississippi knife laws concerns selling a dirk, Bowie knife, butcher knife, or switchblade to a minor or anyone that is legally intoxicated at the time of a sale.
Section 97 of the Mississippi grants residents and visitors the right to own the following types of knives:
- Pocket Knife
- Butterfly Knife
- Balisong Knife
- Ballistic Knife
- Hunting Knife
- Misleading Knife
- KA-BAR Knife
Mississippi does not place a limit on the length of knife blades for ownership purposes, which means you can store a knife of any length of blade in your home. However, concealed carry knife statutes in The Magnolia state mandate the prohibition of carrying concealed longer knives, although state law does not define the meaning of “longer knives.”
Open Knife Carry Law in Mississippi
Mississippi treats open knife carry in the same manner the state treats knife ownership. There are no laws currently on the books that prohibit the open carrying of any style of knife, at any blade length. Nonetheless, anyone living or passing through The Magnolia state cannot display a knife in a threatening way or open carry a knife with the intent to cause harm to other people. Premeditation is a difficult act to prove in court, as several Mississippi court case have ruled on the side of self-defense over the explicit intent to harm other residents by using a knife.
Mississippi and Concealed Carry Statutes
You have the right to conceal carry any type of knife Mississippi if you are over 18 years of age and conceal carry a knife inside your home or any real property that is part of your home. Courts have issued conflicting rulings on the legality of qualifying residents conceal carrying any kind of knife at their places of employment. Outside of your home or place of employment, concealed carry is prohibited for Bowie knives and butcher knives, as well as dirks and switchblades. Mississippi also has banned concealed carry for trench knives and other types of knives that contain finger rings.
Miscellaneous Knife Laws in the Magnolia State
Although considered a knife ownership friendly state, Mississippi knife laws have one major flaw the legal system has tried to fix several times over the past couple of decades. The Magnolia State does not have a preemption statute on the books, which means counties and municipalities can pass knife laws that are more restrictive than what state legislators have passed. For example, Tupelo, MS prohibits concealed carry for knives that have blades spanning longer than 3.5 inches. Vicksburg sets the concealed carry limit for knife blades at four inches. Mississippi knife laws ban knives of any kind on public school property, which includes buses and athletic venues.
Mississippi Knife Laws in 2018 and Beyond
In January of 2018, Mississippi state representative Gary Staples introduced legislation to remove the concealed carry restrictions pertaining to knives. HB 924 removes dirks, switchblades, Bowie knives, and butcher knives from the list of knives prohibited for concealed carry. As of June 2018, HB 924 is still moving through the legislative process, with its future up in the air because of amendments unrelated to knife laws attached to the bill. There is also momentum in the House to introduce a bill that gives the state preemption power to unify knife laws in cities like Vicksburg and Tupelo.
None of the material in this article should be interpreted as legal advice. I am not a lawyer. Never take any action with legal consequences without first consulting with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. This article should not be relied upon for making legal decisions. This information is provided for scholarship and general information only.