The law in Iowa states
"Iowa - Crime Control and Criminal Acts - Definitions. 702.7.
Dangerous weapon. A "dangerous weapon" is any instrument
or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death
or injury upon a human being or animal... Dangerous
weapons include, but are not limited to, any offensive
weapon... firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade
knife, or knife having a blade exceeding five inches in
- 724.4. Carrying weapons.
1. Except as provided in this section, a person who goes
armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the
person... commits an aggravated misdemeanor.
2. A person who goes armed with a knife concealed on or about
the person, if the person uses the knife in the commission
of a crime, commits an aggravated misdemeanor.
3. A person who goes armed with a knife concealed on or about
the person, if the person does not use the knife in the
commission of a crime:
a. If the knife has a blade exceeding eight inches in length,
commits an aggravated misdemeanor.
b. If the knife has a blade exceeding five inches in length
but not exceeding eight inches in length, commits a
4. Subsections 1 through 3 do not apply to any of the
a. A person who goes armed with a dangerous weapon in the
person's own dwelling or place of business...
h. A person who carries a knife used in hunting or fishing,
while actually engaged in lawful hunting or fishing.
i. [valid permit]
- 724.1. Offensive Weapons... 5. A ballistic knife. A
ballistic knife is a knife with a detachable blade which
is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism, elastic
material, or compressed gas... Section 724.3. Any
person... who knowingly possesses an offensive weapon
commits a class "D" felony... (Also see Section 724.4.
Iowa Case Law:
- "Intent was essential element in determining whether
defendant who was found in possession of ten-inch kitchen
knife was guilty of crime of carrying a concealed weapon."
- "Defendant, who was found carrying two pocketknives, one in
pocket and one on chain around his neck under his shirt,
could not be convicted of carrying concealed dangerous
weapons without proof of intent to use knives as weapons."
- "Intended illegal use of knife cannot be inferred from
defendant's bad reputation or former convictions for
- "Actual intent of user is not the issue in deciding whether
instrument or device is dangerous..." (1984)"
So, is it legal to carry a switchblade, so long as it is not concealed on or about the person?
Does having a concealed carry permit allow you to carry switchblades or knives larger than 5" concealed?
It is a bit ambiguous...and maybe I am an idiot, but what do you folks think?
"Except as provided in this section, a person who goes
armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the
person... commits an aggravated misdemeanor."
Where does it explain among this ambiguous legalese that it is explicetly illegal to carry a switchblade, exposed, with pocket clip showing.
This relates to the common conundrum of "open carry," to which there is no easy answer. This is an important thing to discuss for people who are new to knife laws and it often get's glossed over.
Iowa does actually use the word "concealed" in it's law, unlike a few other states where it just says "carry" or "possess" a weapon.
The classic question of whether a knife in the pocket with a pocket clip showing is concealed has a pretty simple answer: It's whichever is more restrictive. In New York City and Los Angeles, where open carry of certain knives is illegal but concealed carry is not, pocket clip is "open carry." In areas where concealed is illegal, it is "concealed."
On the subject of open carry, even if it's technically legal, it carries risks. When one carries anything perceived as a weapon openly in public, your going to get reactions. Other civilians can get nervous, ask you to leave their business, or even call the police because their understanding of the law is far from perfect. Police can stop you and ask you lots of uncomfortable questions, or even cite you for "causing alarm," or "menacing." And don't get me started on problems with individual police officers trying to interpret statutory laws...
I can look around here and see a LOT of people with a clip in their pocket, and I have never ever gotten noticed because of it, and by that, I mean approached. The chance of me getting hassled by the law for a pocket clip is not very high. OTOH, I could see what you mean if I was carrying a Glock 20 in a drop holster.
I do not know how the law is interpreted by Iowa peace officers, but I have seen that in many websites Iowa is listed as legal to carry, legal to own. I guess is boils down to whether or not you feel like potentially arguing your point to a cop or a judge.
You make a good point about reactions. A switchblade is often not outwardly discernible from a regular folder unless witnessed being opened. This would of course make being stopped over simple open-carry highly unlikely, because Iowa's state law is rather friendly towards large folders (<5"). And of course, police don't generally go randomly patting people down either. For people who obey the law and generally never attract police attention in the first place, they'd have no reason to.
I did some digging in Iowa case law just for the heck of it. A good one is State v. Kluge (2003). Kluge had a large fixed blade under his shirt, which the officer could not tell was a knife. It was discovered after they'd arrested him. Granted, they were arresting Kluge because he as numerous outstanding warrants (see aforementioned point).
Last edited by glistam; 03-03-2009 at 11:44 AM.
I still wish that it was less ambiguous, particularly...just make it clearly legal. Bad guys don't care what the law says anyway.
Make it a SERIOUS offense to USE a knife as an OFFENSIVE WEAPON. As far as I can tell, these ambiguous laws only exist as an opportunity to tack on additional charges when a person does something wrong.
My stupid solution? Legal to have, legal to carry, legal to use. Illegal to use or threaten to use offensively.
(( spam ))
Last edited by Esav Benyamin; 03-03-2009 at 09:40 PM.
Main Weapons related DPS page:
Actual State of Iowa Frequently Asked Questions regarding SF2379. What you're looking for is at the top of the second page:
I have an Iowa carry permit and I carry a switchblade in addition to my pistol. I'm in Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids code limits the blade length to under 3" so I carry one with a blade length of 2.8" so I'm sure that I comply with the Cedar Rapids ordinance. I believe I'm taking a very conservative approach to the Cedar Rapids ordinance since I believe my carry permit would allow me to carry a longer blade but it's not spelled out specifically in the code so I'm erring on the side of caution.QUESTION: Can I carry other weapons besides my handgun?
ANSWER: Iowa law has not changed in this regard. An Iowa carry permit still allows for the concealed or open carrying of handguns,
rifles, and shotguns, excluding those classified by Iowa law as offensive weapons (federal NFA or Class 3). An Iowa carry permit also
allows the concealed carrying of other non-firearm dangerous weapons such as knives with blades in excess of five inches, switchblade
knives, Tasers/stun guns, or any other dangerous weapon. NOTE: Non-firearm dangerous weapons may be carried openly without a
permit. Non-firearm dangerous weapons may also be regulated by local ordinance that is more stringent than Iowa law.
Cedar Rapids Carrying Concealed Weapons Ordinance 63.07
I'm not a lawyer so you need to make this decision for yourself. From my reading of the DPS FAQs you can openly carry any switchblade regardless of the length as long as local ordinances aren't more stringent (such as in Cedar Rapids). Whether it's advisable to carry a large knife in full view is debatable since who wants the hassle of dealing with the police (even if you're 100% legal and in the right) the first time someone panics and calls in cops.
Last edited by henrickd; 02-18-2013 at 01:11 PM. Reason: Additional information
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