Pepper spray in the United States is legal throughout all 50 states. Although it is legal, some states, counties, and cities will place restrictions. These restrictions include:
- The size and weight of the canister
This is a restriction on the size of the canister including how much it can weigh and the amount of pepper spray it can contain.
- The type and amount of ingredients that can be added in pepper spray
- Where and who is allowed to buy it
Some states only allow the sale of pepper spray through licensed dealers. Certain states may only allow the sale of pepper spray in person and prohibit online purchasing. Also, several states require the buyer to be the age of 18 or older. Lastly, particular states may require a firearms identification card or a firearms license for a civilian to legally carry pepper spray.
States where pepper spray is legal with no restrictions
According to the pepper spray laws of the following states, they have no restrictions:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States with restrictions on pepper spray
Pepper spray is legal in the following states but with the following restrictions:
In the state of Alaska you must be 18 years old to buy any defensive weapon. Pepper spray cannot be possessed on school grounds unless you have permission from school authorities and are over the age of 21.
Allowed to possess but cannot exceed a weight of 4 ounces.
Pepper spray cannot contain more than 2.5 ounces and can only be used for self defense purposes. Any misuse can carry a penalty of $1000, up to 3 years in prison, and a felony conviction.
Cannot be possessed by minors and must be used for self defense purposes only
Net weight cannot exceed 2 ounces.
OC products can only be purchased through a licensed dealer such as a gun shop. The canister cannot exceed a net weight of 1/2 ounce, and you also need to be at least 18 years of age
Must be 18 years of age to carry pepper spray. Illegal to carry in the city of Chicago.
Massachusetts defines any chemical substance designed to incapacitate an individual as “ammunition”. Thus, self defense sprays can only be purchased through licensed firearms dealers and the buyer must hold a valid Firearms Identification Card (FID) or a License to Carry Firearms (LTC). You can obtain a FID card from your local police station.
Michigan allows the use of pepper spray containing no more than 10% OC concentration. Also, the weight of the canister can be no more than 1.2 oz. Pepper sprays containing UV dyes are also not allowed. Animal sprays such as dog or bear sprays are completely legal.
Cannot be possessed by minor or felons nor can the canister hold more than 2 ounces.
New Jersey law states pepper spray can be owned by anyone 18 years or older. Felons are prohibited from owning OC products. The net weight of the canister cannot exceed 0.75 ounces.
Must be 18 years of age or older. Traditional pepper spray can only be purchased either at a pharmacy or licensed firearm dealer and cannot be purchased through online sale. Animal repellents such as dog and bear sprays are allowed to be purchased through online sale.
Pepper spray is legal but can only be purchased by a person of 18 years of age or older and must be a non-felon.
Cannot be possessed by felons or contain more than 4 ounces of chemical substance.
Rhode Island laws states that any person 18 of age or older can carry any non-lethal noxious substance or liquid for self defense purposes.
Container cannot contain more than 1.69 ounces.
Washington DC (District of Columbia)
Residents who possess pepper spray must register with local law enforcement. Residents must be 18 years of age or older to carry pepper spray but anyone 14 or older can do so as long as they have parental permission.
Allowed to possess if 18 years of age or over, or with parents permission if at least 14 years old.
Mace or tear gas is prohibited along with UV dyes. By law, pepper spray cannot contain an OC concentration above 10% and a weight no more than 2 oz. The pepper spray must be designed with a safety feature which prevents accidental discharge. It may not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Additional labelling requirements obligate the manufacturer to list their phone number on the product.
If any state listed above does not mention an age requirement then that means it does not have one.
Traveling by Air with Pepper Spray
When traveling by air within the United States you are only allowed to transport pepper spray in checked baggage. It is not allowed to be packed in carry-on baggage, purses, briefcases etc.
Most airlines will allow pepper spray in up to 4 oz containers but it is always best to check with your specific airliner. It’s probably a good idea if you don’t carry pepper spray when flying, and instead purchase a new canister when you arrive to your destination.
Traveling Outside the United States
When traveling to another country from the United States it’s always s good idea to check up each countries specific laws and regulations. Countries that forbid the use of defense sprays such as Canada, do not allow visitors to enter with the possession of prohibited items like pepper spray.
Bringing prohibited items across the border can lead to fines and even denied entry into the country for the duration of a lifetime.
To get the most up to date and accurate information regarding pepper spray laws in your specific area it is best to contact your local law enforcement department.
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