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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Montana State Knife Laws

Montana is one of the breeziest states around for knife owners, though it didn’t always used to be that way.

Montana flag

Thanks to a slate of revisions to the state statutes covering the carry and ownership of knives beginning in 2017 that removed restrictions on action, type, blade length and no-carry locations Montana is now among the most permissive states for knife owners.

There are hardly any regulations left on the books when it comes to the technical details of knives, with the state instead concerning itself only with their use as it pertains to force and criminality.

The good times keep on rolling, and Montana also features some of the strongest preemption laws on the books anywhere, which means you won’t have to contend with a ragged patchwork of county and city laws as you travel from place to place. If your knife is good according to the state, it is good anywhere.

I’ll give you the rest of the good news just below the break.

What You Need to Know

  • What Kind of Knives Can I Own?: Any kind of knife.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed Without a Permit?: Yes, any kind of knife.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Yes, any kind of knife.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Yes, any kind of knife.

General Ownership

As mentioned above, absolutely any kind of knife you can imagine is 100% completely legal in Montana. Dirks, daggers, Bowie knives, throwing stars, ballistic knives, switchblades, butterfly knives, anything. Absolutely anything goes.

The state statutes are more concerned with defining activity and intention than tools, and actually take pains to emphasize that all words used in the statutes have the plain objective meaning unless otherwise defined or indicated. This is remarkably clear and easy to interpret compared to many other states.

In fact, one of the few times you will see knife mentioned at all throughout the statutes is in reference to restricted places for carry, specifically mentioning that you cannot carry any knife with a blade 4 inches or longer in length into a school building or property.

Even more happily, Montana’s preemption law is detailed, utterly clear and leaves no doubt that no locality will be permitted to enforce any law more restrictive than the states own laws when it comes to weapons.

A county, city or municipality can only regulate what knives are allowed inside its own government buildings, but that is as far as they can go. This means anywhere you go in the state you’ll be dealing with one clear, permissive and most importantly consistent set of laws.

Concealed Carry, No Permit

There’s not much else to say about Montana’s knife laws when it comes to concealed carry except that you can carry absolutely any kind of knife you want, with any length of blade, with no permit necessary. It really is that straight-forward, believe it or not.

Montana defines a “weapon” as any instrument, article or substance that regardless of its primary function is readily capable of being used to produce death or serious bodily injury.

Obviously that includes a knife, but you might be interested to learn that Montana’s definition of “concealed weapon” only refers to a firearm, not a knife or similar weapon, that is wholly or partially covered while being worn by the bearer.

Though this should definitely be on your mind if you are carrying a firearm, the definition of concealed weapon has absolutely nothing to do with knives according to the state.

Concealed Carry, With Permit

Montana makes absolutely no distinctions when it comes to concealed carry of knives with or without a concealed weapons permit. Obtaining a Montana-issue or Montana-recognized concealed weapons permit will not grant you any additional privileges when it comes to knives.

Open Carry

Open carry of all kinds of knives is completely legal in Montana with no restrictions save any law that would bar you from bringing your weapons into a particular place. See the next section.

Prohibited Places

If there is one blemish on Montana’s law books concerning the carry of knives it has to be the statutes that spell out what places you are forbidden from carrying weapons, including knives.

At first glance it seems simple enough; you cannot carry your knife into any building owned or operated by the federal government, into any school and in most cases into any county or city government building. You also cannot carry your knife into any place where alcohol is sold to be consumed on site.

But things get a little sticky here.; if you care to examine the section that prohibits the carry of knives onto school grounds you will see that it is only referring to knives with blades measuring 4 inches or longer.

Elsewhere in the section it will specifically bar the carrying of “concealed weapons” from premises, a term which we just learned refers only to concealed firearms, not knives.

Once you parse it out a little bit it seems clear enough, but I would caution all readers to think twice and use maximum discretion before carrying your knife into any place that could potentially lead to trouble.

Assessment

Montana is a terrific state for knife owners since a round of recent legal revisions took effect. With virtually no regulations on the type of knife you can own or carry.

You don’t even need a concealed weapons permit to take maximum advantage of this freedom-loving state’s laws. Statewide preemption statues round out an excellent legal landscape. Montana is good to go for knife owners!

Important Montana State Statutes

45-2-101. General definitions. Unless otherwise specified in the statute, all words must be taken in the objective standard rather than in the subjective, and unless a different meaning plainly is required, the following definitions apply in this title:

(35) ”Knowingly”–a person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when the person is aware of the person’s own conduct or that the circumstance exists. A person acts knowingly with respect to the result of conduct described by a statute defining an offense when the person is aware that it is highly probable that the result will be caused by the person’s conduct. When knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, knowledge is established if a person is aware of a high probability of its existence. Equivalent terms, such as “knowing” or “with knowledge”, have the same meaning.

(43) ”Negligently”–a person acts negligently with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when the person consciously disregards a risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists or when the person disregards a risk of which the person should be aware that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of a nature and degree that to disregard it involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the actor’s situation. “Gross deviation” means a deviation that is considerably greater than lack of ordinary care. Relevant terms, such as “negligent” and “with negligence”, have the same meaning.

(59) ”Possession” is the knowing control of anything for a sufficient time to be able to terminate control.

(66) (a) ”Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that:

(i) creates a substantial risk of death;

(ii) causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of a bodily member or organ; or

(iii) at the time of injury, can reasonably be expected to result in serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function or process of a bodily member or organ.

(b) The term includes serious mental illness or impairment.

(79) ”Weapon” means an instrument, article, or substance that, regardless of its primary function, is readily capable of being used to produce death or serious bodily injury.

45-8-315. Definition.

“Concealed weapon” means a firearm that is wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon.

45-8-361. Possession or allowing possession of weapon in school building — exceptions — penalties — seizure and forfeiture or return authorized — definitions.

(1) A person commits the offense of possession of a weapon in a school building if the person purposely and knowingly possesses, carries, or stores a weapon in a school building.

(2) A parent or guardian of a minor commits the offense of allowing possession of a weapon in a school building if the parent or guardian purposely and knowingly permits the minor to possess, carry, or store a weapon in a school building.

(3) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to law enforcement personnel.

(b) The trustees of a district may grant persons and entities advance permission to possess, carry, or store a weapon in a school building.

(4) (a) A person convicted under this section shall be fined an amount not to exceed $500, imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed 6 months, or both. The court shall consider alternatives to incarceration that are available in the community.

(b) (i) A weapon in violation of this section may be seized and, upon conviction of the person possessing or permitting possession of the weapon, may be forfeited to the state or returned to the lawful owner.

(ii) If a weapon seized under the provisions of this section is subsequently determined to have been stolen or otherwise taken from the owner’s possession without permission, the weapon must be returned to the lawful owner.

(5) As used in this section:

(a) ”school building” means all buildings owned or leased by a local school district that are used for instruction or for student activities. The term does not include a home school provided for in 20-5-109.

(b) ”weapon” means any type of firearm, a knife with a blade 4 or more inches in length, a sword, a straight razor, a throwing star, nun-chucks, or brass or other metal knuckles. The term also includes any other article or instrument possessed with the purpose to commit a criminal offense.

45-8-352. Restriction on local government regulation of knives.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), local governments may not enact or enforce an ordinance, rule, or regulation that restricts or prohibits the ownership, use, possession, or sale of any type of knife that is not specifically prohibited by state law.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a local government ordinance, rule, or regulation prohibiting the possession of a knife on property or in a building owned, leased, or possessed by the local government entity.

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