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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Rhode Island State Knife Laws

Rhode Island has some fairly ugly knife laws, with broad restrictions on the open or concealed carry of many knife classes and an overall restriction that only allows for the carry of any otherwise legal class of knife so long as it has a blade that is 3 inches or shorter.

If you want to carry a large or heavy knife for specific purposes, whatever they might be, you are out of luck if you live in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island flag

And as is usually the case in knife-restrictive states there is a lack of preemption, statutes that are both ancient and coyly worded and virtually no political reaction mass for getting any of it changed, despite the valiant efforts of both citizens and lobbyists.

You don’t have too much to worry about so long as you do not carry a restricted category of knife and you may still own them, but Rhode Island is far from what I would call a good state for knife owners.

You can get the rest of the story just below.

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, so long as the blade is 3” or shorter and the knife is not a dirk, dagger, stiletto, bowie or sword cane.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Concealed With a Permit?: Yes, so long as the blade is 3” or shorter and the knife is not a dirk, dagger, stiletto, bowie or sword cane.
  • Can I Carry a Knife Openly?: Yes, so long as the blade is 3” or shorter and the knife is not a dirk, dagger, stiletto, bowie or sword cane.

General Ownership

Rhode Island does not forbid ownership or simple possession of any kind of knife in particular.

The statutes do specifically name daggers, dirks, stilettos, swords-in-cane (sword canes), bowie knives and other similar weapons designed to cut or stab as being expressly forbidden from possession if the person possessing them has intent to unlawfully use them against another.

So long as you do not have any unlawful intent in your possession of any of those weapons, you may legally own them in Rhode Island.

Also of note is that throwing stars are prohibited from general possession unless the person possessing them is actually using them in the capacity of martial arts instruction.

Residence and travelers are advised that Rhode Island lacks a preemption statute, and that means that the towns and cities you travel to will have their own unique and often more restrictive laws compared to the state’s laws governing knives.

Also a particular hazard for people traveling into this tiny state is that it is surrounded on all sides by states that have knife laws just as restrictive or more restrictive than it does, so pay attention.

Violations of Rhode Island’s knife statutes carry with them a fairly stiff penalty, including a fine of up to $3,000 and potentially five years in prison.

Concealed Carry, No Permit

Rhode Island carry laws concerning knives are restrictive, but nonetheless fairly clear. You may only carry on or about your person any knife that is not a dagger, dirk, bowie knife, stiletto, sword-in-cane or razor that also has a blade that is 3 inches or shorter.

Said another way, you may not carry any of the above named categories of knife, and any knife that you do choose to carry that is not a part of one of those categories must still have a blade beneath the legal limit.

Concealed Carry, With Permit

Rhode Island makes no distinction when it comes to the carry of knives of any kind should you have a concealed weapons permit. All the standard laws and regulations apply, and your permit will grant you no additional privileges.

Open Carry

Rhode Island’s law regarding the carry of knives applies equally to open carry as it does to concealed carry. You’ll have to leave the bigger, better knives at home in the state.

Prohibited Places

You may not carry any knife into a school or onto the grounds of any school, including any vehicle used for transportation to or from the school, or to or from a school event.

You may also not carry your knife into any place that is not a school facility or property that is sponsoring or hosting a school event.

This counts equally for public or private schools but notably does not apply to colleges or universities. Be warned! Rhode Island has especially harsh penalties for people who violate this statute!

Assessment

Rhode Island is a harsh state for knife owners, and though it allows residents to own pretty much any kind of knife they want they may only choose to carry in public a knife from a comparatively limited selection, with several major categories excluded entirely and a blanket restriction on blade length that is tiresome in the extreme.

A lack of preemption laws rounds out a decidedly distasteful raft of statutes.

Important Rhode Island State Statutes

Section 11-47-2 Definitions.

(4) “Crime of violence” means and includes any of the following crimes or an attempt to commit any of them: murder, manslaughter, rape, first- or second-degree sexual assault, first- or second-degree child molestation, kidnapping, first- and second-degree arson, mayhem, robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, any felony violation involving the illegal manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance classified in schedule I or schedule II of § 21-28-2.08, any violation of § 21-28-4.01.1 or § 21-28-4.01.2 or conspiracy to commit any violation of these statutes, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault or battery involving grave bodily injury, or assault with intent to commit any offense punishable as a felony; upon any conviction of an offense punishable as a felony offense under § 12-29-5.

(9) “Person” includes an individual, partnership, firm, association, or corporation.

(13) “Sell” includes let or hire, give, lend, and transfer, and “purchase” includes hire, accept, and borrow, and “purchasing” shall be construed accordingly.

(…)

11-47-42. Weapons other than firearms prohibited.

(a)(1) No person shall carry or possess or attempt to use against another any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slingshot, billy, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stun-gun, or the so called “Kung-Fu” weapons.

(2) No person shall with intent to use unlawfully against another, carry or possess a crossbow, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, or other similar weapon designed to cut and stab another.

(3) No person shall wear or carry concealed upon his person, any of the above-mentioned instruments or weapons, or any razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade, or other weapon of like kind or description.

Any person violating the provisions of these subsections shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, and the weapon so found shall be confiscated.

Any person violating the provisions of these subsections while he or she is incarcerated within the confines of the adult correctional institutions shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000), or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five (5) years, or both, and the weapon so found shall be confiscated.

(b) No person shall sell to a person under eighteen (18) years of age, without the written authorization of the minor’s parent or legal guardian, any stink bomb, blackjack, slingshot, bill, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, slap glove, bludgeon, stungun, paint ball gun, so called “kung-fu” weapons, dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword-in-cane, bowie knife, razor, or knife of any description having a blade of more than three inches (3″) in length as described in subsection (a) of this section, or any multi-pronged star with sharpened edges designed to be used as a weapon and commonly known as a Chinese throwing star, except that an individual who is actually engaged in the instruction of martial arts and licensed under § 5-43-1 may carry and possess any multi-pronged star with sharpened edges for the sole purpose of instructional use. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than three thousand dollars ($3,000), or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five (5) years, or both, and the weapons so found shall be confiscated.

11-47-47. Display of weapons.

No person, firm, or corporation shall display in a place of business by means of a window display any pistol, revolver, or other firearm, as defined in § 11-47-2, or any dagger, dirk, bowie knife, stiletto, metal knuckles, or blackjack; provided, that dealers in sporting goods may include in a window display pistols or revolvers upon a permit issued by the chief of police or town sergeant of any city or town. Any person, firm, or corporation violating the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the first offense and one hundred dollars ($100) for every subsequent offense.

11-47-60. Possession of firearms on school grounds.

(a)(1) No person shall have in his or her possession any firearm or other weapons on school grounds.

(2) For the purposes of this section, “school grounds” means the property of a public or private elementary or secondary school or in those portions of any building, stadium, or other structure on school grounds which were, at the time of the violation, being used for an activity sponsored by or through a school in this state or while riding school provided transportation.

(3) Every person violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five (5) years, or shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000).

(4) Any juvenile adjudicated delinquent pursuant to this statute shall, in addition to whatever other penalties are imposed by the family court, lose his or her license to operate a motor vehicle for up to six (6) months. If the juvenile has not yet obtained the necessary age to obtain a license, the court may impose as part of its sentence a delay in his or her right to obtain the license when eligible to do so, for a period of up to six (6) months.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not apply to any person who shall be exempt pursuant to the provisions of §§ 11-47-9, 11-47-11, and 11-47-18 or to the following activities when the activities are officially recognized and sanctioned by the educational institution:

(1) Firearm instruction and/or safety courses;

(2) Government-sponsored military-related programs such as ROTC;

(3) Interscholastic shooting and/or marksmanship events;

(4) Military history and firearms collection courses and/or programs; and

(5) The use of blank guns in theatrical and/or athletic events.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to colleges, universities, or junior colleges.

11-47-60.2. Possession of weapons on school grounds – Notification.

(a) If a student is found to be carrying a weapon, as defined in § 11-47-42, a firearm or replica of a firearm, or commits an aggravated assault on school grounds as defined in § 11-47-60, the principal or designee shall immediately notify the student’s parents and the local police and turn the weapon over, if any, to the local enforcement agency.

(b) Any person who has reasonable cause to know that any person is in violation of this statute shall notify the principal or designee. The principal or designee shall immediately notify the student’s parents and the local police. Any person acting in good faith who makes a report under this section shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making the report.

(c) School superintendents shall receive notice from the clerk of the family court regarding the disposition of all cases involving juveniles from their school districts adjudged pursuant to this statute. This information shall remain confidential and be shared with school officials who deal directly with the student.

(d) The provisions of this section should not apply to the following activities when the activities are officially recognized and sanctioned by the educational institution:

(1) Firearm instructed and/or safety course;

(2) Government-sponsored military-related programs such as ROTC;

(3) Interscholastic shooting and/or marksmanship events;

(4) Military history and firearms collection courses and/or programs; and

(5) The use of blank guns in theatrical and/or athletic events.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not apply to colleges, universities or junior colleges.

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