Understanding Your Knife Rights in Minnesota

Minnesota has a reputation for being a land of lakes and outdoor enthusiasts. Knives are a natural companion for many in these pursuits. But navigating the legality of carrying a knife in Minnesota can be tricky. State laws allow for the open or concealed carry of most knives, but there are important exceptions and local variations to consider. This article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding your knife rights in Minnesota, with specific breakdowns for major cities like Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

By familiarizing yourself with the relevant laws, you can ensure responsible knife use and avoid unintended legal trouble.

State Knife Laws

  • Legality of Possession: Minnesota law permits the possession of most knives, with the key exception being automatic knives (also known as switchblades). These knives have a blade that opens automatically with the press of a button or switch. Owning or possessing an automatic knife in Minnesota is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to 90 days.
  • Concealed Carry: Unlike some states, Minnesota has no restrictions on the concealed carry of legal knives. You can carry a non-automatic knife concealed on your person as long as you don’t intend to use it unlawfully.
  • Blade Length: There are no statewide blade length restrictions in Minnesota. However, it’s crucial to remember that some cities and counties may have their own ordinances regulating blade length. We’ll explore these local variations in the next section.
  • Places Where Knives Are Prohibited: Even with the permissive state laws, there are specific locations where carrying any knife is illegal. These include:
    • Schools (considered weapons-free zones)
    • Courthouses and certain state buildings
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Local Variations and City Ordinances

  • Minnesota has no knife preemption law. This means that cities and counties can enact stricter knife laws than the state. It’s important to research the specific ordinances in your area, especially in major cities like Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
  • Minneapolis: Knife laws in Minneapolis are significantly more restrictive than state law. The Minneapolis Code of Ordinances defines any knife with a blade exceeding 4 inches as a “weapon.” This means carrying such a knife openly or concealed within city limits is illegal. Exceptions exist for transporting knives in locked cases or boxes and for possession within your own home.
  • Saint Paul: Similar to Minneapolis, Saint Paul has stricter knife ordinances. Here, anything that can be sheathed is considered a concealed weapon, regardless of blade length. This effectively bans the concealed carry of most knives within city limits. A narrow exception exists for utility blades under 1 inch in length.
  • Other Cities and Counties: It’s advisable to check the local ordinances of your specific city or county. Some, like Ramsey County, have restrictions on knife blade length in public parks. These restrictions may vary, so a quick online search or inquiry with local law enforcement can clarify the regulations in your area.

Exceptions and Considerations

  • Intent: Even in areas with permissive knife laws, carrying a knife with the intent to use it unlawfully can lead to criminal charges.
  • Duty to Inform: If you are pulled over by law enforcement and are carrying a knife, it’s best to inform the officer immediately and calmly. Don’t make any sudden movements or reach for the knife.
  • Best Practices:
    • Familiarize yourself with the laws of your area, including any local ordinances.
    • Only carry a knife for legitimate purposes, such as utility or outdoor activities.
    • If you choose to carry a knife concealed, ensure it’s securely fastened to prevent accidental injury or loss.
    • When in doubt, err on the side of caution and leave your knife at home in certain situations.
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Understanding knife laws in Minnesota can be complex, especially with variations between state and local regulations. By familiarizing yourself with these laws and following best practices, you can ensure responsible knife use and avoid legal issues. Remember, even in permitted areas, always prioritize safety and responsible knife handling.

Additional Resources


This article provides general information only and is not intended as legal advice.

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