Rhode Island Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 06:51 pm

This article was created to be a brief synopsis of the law according to my understanding and is not legal advice. Knifeade is not a legal service provider. Using this site does not create a client/lawyer relationship. Because knife laws can be interpreted differently by different people and entities it is recommended that you consult legal counsel for specific information and guidance.

Are you looking for a complete guide to knife laws in the state of Rhode Island?

Whether you’re a pocket knife enthusiast or just curious about what is and isn’t allowed, this article will provide an overview of all relevant regulations.

In this article, we’ll discuss topics such as the possession, purchase, and sale of knives in Rhode Island along with any applicable penalties for violating these laws.

With that said let’s dive right into our exploration of Rhode Island knife law.

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*These knives are listed based on their broad legality across states, but always consult your local laws before making a purchase.

Overview of Rhode Island Knife Laws

Rhode Island knife laws aim to balance individual rights with public safety. A knife, under these laws, is any device or instrument equipped with a blade for cutting, stabbing, or other potentially harmful uses. There are no specific types of knives that are completely prohibited in the state of Rhode Island, which is a departure from the incorrect information previously provided.

Definition of a Knife

In legal terms, a knife is a device or instrument that possesses a blade and can be employed for cutting, stabbing, or potentially harmful activities. This includes pocket knives and folding blades that reveal a sharpened edge when opened. The term ‘knife’ could also encompass swords and daggers, provided they satisfy the above definition.

State Wide Preemption

Rhode Island does not have a statewide preemption when it comes to knife laws. This means that while state law provides a general framework for what is legal and what is not, individual cities and municipalities within Rhode Island have the ability to enact their own ordinances that may further restrict or define knife laws.

Legality Of Specific Knife Types

Legal Knives

In Rhode Island, most common types of knives are legal to possess and carry, provided they are not concealed without a permit and do not fall into the category of specifically prohibited weapons.

Prohibited Knives

Rhode Island law does not list any specific types of prohibited knives, which differs from the previous misrepresentation. However, carrying certain types of knives like dirks, daggers, stilettos, and others with the intent to use them unlawfully against another is prohibited.

Knife Length Laws

Rhode Island law restricts the concealed carry of any knife with a blade longer than three (3) inches, and similar restrictions apply to the sale or transfer of such knives to minors.

Possession of Knives in Rhode Island

Open Carry of Knives in Rhode Island

The open carry of knives – of any type – is not restricted in Rhode Island, unless one has the intent to use it “unlawfully against another”.

Concealed Carry of Knives in Rhode Island

It is unlawful to conceal carry any knife with a blade longer than three (3) inches or any “dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword in cane, bowie knife or other similar weapon” regardless of blade length without a permit.

Age Limitations for Purchasing and Selling Knives in Rhode Island

It is prohibited to sell any knife having a blade longer than three (3) inches, or any “dagger, dirk, stiletto, sword in cane, bowie knife or other similar weapon” regardless of blade length to a minor without written authorization from the minor’s parent or legal guardian.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws in Rhode Island

Violating knife laws in Rhode Island can lead to various consequences, including criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the severity of the violation. Violations of Rhode Island’s knife statutes can carry a penalty of up to $3,000 and potentially five years in prison.

FAQs in Relation to Rhode Island Knife Law

Are butterfly knives illegal in Rhode Island?

Butterfly knives, also known as balisongs, are not specifically prohibited under Rhode Island state law.

Are gravity knives legal in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law does not specifically restrict gravity knives.

Are OTF (Out The Front) knives legal in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law does not restrict automatic knives, including OTF knives.

Can a felon carry a knife in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law does not specifically address felons and knife ownership. However, felons should consult with a legal professional to understand any potential restrictions.

Can I carry a knife in schools or government buildings?

In Rhode Island, it is illegal to possess any type of knife on school property, regardless of whether it is openly or concealed carried. Government buildings typically also have strict regulations against carrying weapons, including knives.

Rhode Island State Knife Law References

Official Sources of Rhode Island’s Knife Laws

Rhode Island’s knife laws are primarily codified in Title 11 (Criminal Offenses) of the Rhode Island General Laws, particularly in Chapter 11-47 (Weapons).

Key sections include:

Significant Court Cases

Name/TitleShort Summary
State v. GuerreroThe Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s judgment denying the defendant’s motion for a new trial, following convictions of assault and battery resulting in serious bodily injury and possession of a knife with a blade of more than three inches​1​.
Probation Ordered in Knife CaseJames Hammar was ordered to surrender a knife and to serve a year of probation after pleading no contest in Superior Court​2​.
Delage v. Imperial Knife Co., Inc.This case involved William Delage and Imperial Knife Company, Inc., although the specific details regarding the knife issue were not provided​3​.

Timeline of Major Changes

  • 1950s: Rhode Island did not join the “anti-switchblade” frenzy that swept across many states during the 1950s.


In conclusion, it’s important to be well-informed about Rhode Island knife laws before purchasing or carrying a pocket knife. While many types of knives are legal to own and carry, there are some restrictions, particularly on the concealed carry of certain types of knives and knives with blades longer than three inches. Being knowledgeable about both state and local laws, as well as adhering to these laws, is crucial to avoid legal issues and ensure the safety of yourself and others around you.

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