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Concealed carry knife laws in WA State. Specifically, what constitutes a deadly weapon and can it be concealed.

Vancouver, WA |

The laws in WA I have been able to find on this subject are RCW 9.41.270 & 9.41.250. These seem to indicate that as long as I don't carry a knife in a threatening manner, whether concealed or not, I'm lawful. But, it seems rather unclear overall. I don't have a concealed carry permit, so I need to know if I can put a knife in my pocket (totally concealed) and what kind of length restrictions I'm subject to. Also, if the knife has a pocket clip and is partly visible, is that concealed? I currently carry a 2-7/8in. knife and feel sure that is okay (it is under the 3in. limit in RCW 9.95.040), but I want to carry a 7-1/2in. and the law seems unclear. Any special laws Vancouver, WA has would be nice to know about as well. Last details, I have no convictions & these will all be folding blades.

Attorney Answers 1


Your research has served you well. The real issue is an on-the-spot determination by the police officer, who will decide whether you were acting "furtively" with the "intent to conceal" a weapon. While those terms have legal definitions, an arresting officer will have a far more practical evaluation process -- "is this guy up to no good?"

The concealed carry laws in Washington State (and many other states) only allow you to carry a concealed _pistol_ and not any other form of weapon. Going through the process and getting a concealed weapon permit would certainly help in a defense, but it is not a complete defense to a charge of carrying a concealed bladed weapon nor is it any guarantee of not being arrested for carrying a concealed knife.

Vancouver has a municipal code section on point, Vanc. Muni. Code § 7.11.020(a), which reads, "It is unlawful for anyone knowingly to carry concealed on one's person any dangerous knife."

I guess the real question you pose is, "would a guy with a 7" folding-blade knife be up to no good?" Only you can answer that question before a police offer answers it for you.

Good luck!

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Thanks for the detailed response. I guess I'll keep my blades under 3 inches in Vancouver to avoid the risk. But, if I'm reading the law right, I can have a "dangerous knife" in the city limits if it is full visible. Please correct me if that is wrong. Outside the city I normally open carry a 9 inch fixed blade and never had a problem. I was even given a traffic ticket with it on my belt and the officer didn't care. Seems weird that you can get a license to conceal a gun but not a knife.