Just like the Constitution of the United States, the North Dakota Sate Constitution makes a clear recognition of the right to keep and bear arms as an inalienable right of every citizen. This is codified in section one of act one. In fact, North Dakota’s state constitution is a veritable model of strong protection for individuals who are concerned about their right to bear arms. It not only explicitly identifies the need for arms for the purpose of self-defense but also extends protection for arms for hunting, recreation, and any other “lawful purpose.”
North Dakota’s legal code defines and discusses weapons in Title 62.1. Knives are also extensively mentioned in Chapter 62.1-04, which relates to concealed weapons.
There are no specific forms of knife that are banned by law in North Dakota. Ownership and possession are completely legal.
There are some knives which cannot be carried in a concealed manner according to the laws of North Dakota. Thankfully, the state’s code is very explicit about defining concealment. The relevant statute (62.1-04-01) begins by defining its general intent and then providing specific details and examples.
Essentially, North Dakota law considers a dangerous weapon (including a knife) to be concealed if an ordinary passerby would not be able to discern it. This does not require complete invisibility. Weapons which are carried loose under the clothes, in a bundle, or in a vehicle controlled by the individual are considered to be concealed. The vehicular example specifically includes weapons under seats or in glove compartments.
North Dakota’s rules also define several situations where a weapon cannot be considered concealed:
1) When carried in a case (e.g. a sheath) designed for the purpose that is either completely or substantially visible to observers.
2) When secured under lock and key in a vehicle’s trunk or luggage compartment.
3) When carried in any manner – visible or not – while an individual is engaged in lawful hunting, trapping, or target shooting.
The statute is clearly worded so that an individual carrying a knife of any sort in a pouch or sheath expressly designed for that purpose cannot be guilty of carrying a concealed weapon so long as that container is “substantially visible.”
In North Dakota, carrying a concealed dangerous weapon like a knife is generally considered illegal. There are exceptions to this rule, primarily in the form of weapons licenses. North Dakota will issue such licenses to individuals who are over the age of 18. Knives are specifically included in the types of weapons that can be licensed.
Interestingly, the legal code of North Dakota takes the time to specifically exempt certain self-defence weapons from its ban on concealed weapons. These include CS and CN sprays as well as “other irritating agents,” a provision which exempts pepper spray. Stun guns and other direct-contact electrical defense weapons are similarly exempted.
The list of items considered to be “dangerous weapons” for the purposes of the laws described above are laid out in the North Dakota code in 62.1-01-01. It includes not only many forms of knives but also some more exotic weapons, including throwing stars, nunchaku, “martial arts weapons,” slingshots, bows, crossbows, spears, swords, machetes, and scimitars. Included in the list are switchblades, gravity knives, stilettos, daggers, and any knife whose blade length exceeds five inches.
Key Knife Dimensions
As mentioned immediately above, knives with blades longer than five inches are considered “dangerous weapons” under North Dakota law.
North Dakota does have statewide preemption laws, i.e. laws designed to prevent lower authorities (cities, municipalities, etc.) from establishing their own weapons laws. However, North Dakota’s law, set out in 62.1-01-03, applies only to firearms, not knives.
Knives In Schools
According to 62.1-02-05, dangerous weapons such as knives are prohibited at schools and school functions as well as at certain public gatherings and special events.
This information that is presented as a brief description of the laws and not as any kind of legal advice. aStraightArrow will not and cannot be a legal service provider. The use of the site does not create any sort of client/lawyer relationship. The knife laws are interpreted differently by prosecuting attorneys, enforcement officers, and judges. aStraightArrow suggests you consult legal counsel for further guidance.