Is Pepper Spray Legal? [BEFORE You Use]


Pepper spray is a widely used form of self-defense that uses the active ingredient oleoresin capsicum. It’s an inflammatory agent that irritates the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs of an attacker, temporarily impairing their vision and ability to breathe. Its effects last for about 30 minutes or so. Depending on the circumstances, using pepper spray for self-defense could be legal or illegal depending on the state you reside in.

It is legal to possess pepper spray in many states but every state has its own laws and regulations. For instance, in California, it’s illegal to use pepper spray on someone, unless that person is engaged in criminal behavior and you have a “reasonable belief” that force is necessary for protection. If you are a resident of California and under 18, you can’t own pepper. Pepper spray penalties for violating these restrictions vary by state, ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.

Pepper spray is prohibited on airplanes because it can be considered a weapon and can cause respiratory problems in other passengers. If you need to carry pepper spray while traveling by plane, check with your airline ahead of time to make sure you can keep it or not.

Is pepper spray legal?

StateLegal Status
USA (All 50 States)It's legal to own & carry a pepper spray. Moreover, it's also legal to use it in self defense. Using it in an offence can land you in great trouble though.

Buying & carrying pepper spray is totally legal in every US state. In some areas, there are separate rules for carrying pepper spray in public and for carrying it on your property (e.g., if you’re staying at a hotel). Many states have different rules for carrying pepper spray versus other self-defense weapons like stun guns and tasers.  It is important to be aware of the laws governing your location, both when you are at home and when you are traveling. Breaking the pepper ball gun laws can have serious consequences!

In general, pepper spray is legal in most places. However, there are exceptions. The exact rules will depend on where you live and what you plan to do with the canister of pepper spray.

As a general rule, it’s legal to carry pepper spray in any state except for some regulations that discourage it in New York and Connecticut, but don’t restrict it. However, it is important to note that even in states where pepper spray is allowed, there may still be restrictions on how or when you can use it against an attacker.

Is pepper spray legal in the state of Washington, D.C?

pepper Spray Legal status

Yes, it’s legal, but the state forbids or restricts the use of pepper spray for offensive measures. It is perfectly legal to carry pepper spray for self-defense. Before carrying, make sure you’re up to date on your local laws and restrictions regarding pepper spray.

When it is legal to use pepper spray?

 Self-defense is considered justified if four elements are present:

  1. An unlawful and intentional attack or assault;
  2. The victim must have been in a reasonable state of fear for his or her own safety;
  3. The victim has no duty to retreat from an attacker; and,
  4. The force used was reasonable in relation to the threat presented.

Do you have to be 18 to use pepper spray?

Yes, according to the US federal government, you do have to be 18 years of age to use pepper spray in all States including Illinois. Since the introduction of pepper spray in the 1980s, it has been regulated as a restricted weapon. This means that, according to federal law, you can only buy it with your ID and are only allowed to use it if you are an adult.

Is pepper spray illegal in all states of the US?

pepper spray legal or illegal

No, it’s not illegal, but there are pepper spray laws by state or regulations about who can use pepper spray. For instance, in Maine, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, you must be over the age of 18 to carry pepper spray for self-defense. However, in many other states—including Massachusetts—you can carry pepper spray if you’re old enough to vote (16 years old) or drive (15 years old).

Is it illegal to carry pepper spray in Florida?

No, it’s legal as Florida allows carrying pepper spray. This is true for most states in the country, but Florida pepper spray laws are lenient. The state’s laws do not stipulate any age limit for carrying or purchasing pepper spray.

Do you need a license/permit to carry pepper spray in FL?

No, you don’t need to get a license or permit to carry it. Florida permits to have pepper spray without any documentation.

Is pepper spray a weapon?

Pepper spray is classified as a weapon by the U.S. Department of Justice. Pepper spray is considered a “less-lethal” weapon, meaning it is not intended to kill; instead, it causes temporary discomfort or pain to an attacker. It’s also considered an “impact weapon”, which means it is used by hitting the target with the pepper spray container. Pepper spray can be used in situations where someone feels threatened by another person and wants to escape safely.

How many times can you use pepper spray?

using pepper spray legal

The amount of times you can use pepper spray varies from product to product and from state to state. You can certainly use it multiple times in a self-defense situation, but if you use it way beyond what’s needed, that can be considered unlawful.

Some pepper sprays can be used up to 15 feet, others 5 feet. Sprays with UV dyes, or with chemicals like capsaicin, are meant for single use. Pepper spray  Massachusetts, Pepper spray Georgia is banned in any capacity.

Can minors carry pepper spray in Canada?

According to the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP), those over the age of 12 can possess and carry pepper spray for self-defense. However, pepper spray can only be used for self-defense purposes, so carrying it with malicious intent is against the law.

Leaving pepper spray in a place where a minor could easily reach it is also against the law as it is considered negligence to leave dangerous weapons within reach of minors.

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Can a felon have pepper spray?

It’s not permitted as per Penal Code 22810(a), not even for self-defense if you’re a felon or a convict. If you are convicted of a crime in the state of Arizona or any other US state, there are certain weapons, tools, and devices that are prohibited by law from being in your possession, and pepper spray is one of them.


Many people have the misconception that using pepper spray is illegal. Whereas the laws in all US States are quite lenient when it comes to pepper spray possession & use. All states allow the use of mace or pepper spray with a few exceptions & restrictions that we’ve laid down in the article above. We hope you all stay safe!

E.A. Gjelten
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