What is a “dirk knife?”

What is a “dirk knife” as defined by Mississippi Code § 97-37-5(1)?  In the case of Summerall v. State, 41 So. 3d 729, 737 (¶ 32) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010) a dirk knife was defined as “(1) have a blade with at least one sharpened edge which tapers to a point and (2) be designed primarily for use as a stabbing weapon.”

In the case of Wright v. State, 2020-KA-00505-SCT ¶11 (Miss. 2021) the Supreme Court adopted this definition and determined that the following item was in fact a “dirk knife.”

The dissent in Wright, which I found to be thoroughly reasoned, went over the Summerall case in depth, discussing the “traditional test” and “modern test” for deciding what is a dirk knife. The traditional test says a dirk knife is more like a short sword and usually has a pummel or guard. Under the modern test, a dirk knife is primarily for stabbing and includes punch daggers which usually have short blades (and usually both edges are sharpened). See Wright ¶25, discussing  Summerall and In re Jesse “QQ”, 243 A.D.2d 788, 789 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997).

The Wright dissent says, “The knife at issue strongly resembles a fish fillet knife” and since neither the manufacturer or intended purpose could be ascertained it was not possible to say it “was designed to stab.” ¶26.