When it Is Illegal to Use Pepper Spray
While it is legal to use and carry pepper spray in all 50 states, it is still considered a weapon, so you have to be careful about when and how you use it. Improper use of pepper spray can lead to a heavy fine or even arrest. However, if you familiarize yourself with your local laws and only use pepper spray during true emergencies, then you won’t have to worry about being charged with misconduct.
When You Can Use Pepper Spray
Most states’ self-defense laws state that a person can use “proportionate and necessary force” if they believe that their life is in danger.
If you hurt or even kill an attacker, you have to be able to justify the actions you took to defend yourself, which is why it is important only to use pepper spray when you are sure you are being threatened by another person or animal. If you act too quickly, using pepper spray could be considered aggravating the circumstances and even lead to charges of battery and assault.
As long as you are using your pepper spray in self-defense without any malice or intent to hurt someone, you shouldn’t have a problem. Like any weapon, use pepper spray cautiously and only for the purposes of defending yourself against an attacker.
Where and When You Can Carry Pepper Spray
It is legal in all states to carry a small amount of pepper spray on your person as long as it is to be used in self-defense and you are over 18. Pepper spray also cannot be taken into the cabin of commercial airlines, and it is considered a federal crime to do so.
It is important to note that while most states don’t have specific guidelines about where you can and cannot carry pepper spray, there are some that do. For example, Alaska prohibits carrying pepper spray in a school if you are under the age of 18. Other states that have specific pepper spray restrictions include:
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District of Columbia
Under Canada’s Firearms Act, pepper spray is considered a prohibited weapon.
This designation as a prohibited weapons denotes that pepper spray cannot be produced or sold in Canada.
As well, it is a criminal offence in Canada to manufacture, sell or use products that are similar to pepper spray.
In the case of pepper spray “similar” means any gas, powder, or liquid spray that is capable of injuring or immobilizing a person is prohibited.
Pepper spray, commonly referred to by the brand name “Mace”, can be used or carried by people as a potential mode of defence against potential attackers.
Legislation first enacted in 1995 designated pepper spray as a prohibited weapon.
The Firearms Act, included in the Criminal Code of Canada, defined firearms as non-restricted, restricted, or prohibited, each designation carrying with it different criminal consequences for possession, production or sale.
The Firearms Act also introduced new legislation for other weapons as well. This included knives and spray devices, such as pepper spray.
The Criminal Code was amended so that the definition of a prohibited weapon could be much broader.
The Code specifically states that a prohibited weapon is:
Any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of
tear gas, mace or other gas, or any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person.
In addition, the term “weapon” has been defined to include anything designed, intended or used to cause death or injury to another person or to threaten or intimidate.
While some people may consider pepper spray to be a reasonable mode of defence against potential perpetrators it is a prohibited weapon, as defined by the Firearms Act.
Therefore carrying pepper spray is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Some people disagree with this classification as they argue that people should be able to legally defend themselves against attackers without risking criminal charges.
Where Can Pepper Spray Be Carried?
Typically, it is legal to carry pepper spray in public. However, there are certain cases where pepper spray has to remain concealed or is prohibited in various buildings and establishments.
One place that pepper spray is not allowed is commercial airlines. It could pose a significant risk if it ends up accidentally getting sprayed. Carrying pepper spray on these airlines is a felony that can have a fine of up to $25,000.
Another place where pepper spray is not allowed is specially secured buildings, like governmental buildings and state establishments. This action became illegal after the events of 9/11 occurred in 2001.
Is Pepper Spray Legal?
It is illegal to use pepper spray in the commision of a crime. In most states, pepper spray is legal to carry and use for the purpose of self defense. However, in some states, the use of pepper spray is regulated:
Massachusetts: A firearm identification card is required to lawfully purchase, possess, and use pepper spray meant for humans. Pepper spray meant for animals can be bought over the internet and shipped in the mail.
New York: Pepper spray must be purchased from licensed firearms dealer or pharmacist. The buyer must be 18 years or older and must sign a form to swear to their age. It is illegal to ship pepper spray in New York State.
Wisconsin: Sprays must be made of pepper only, and tear gas, UV dyes, or combination sprays are prohibited. OC spray can be no stronger than a 10% solution. The canister can be between 15-60 grams only and must have safety feature.
Washington, D.C.: Possession of any kind of pepper spray must be registered with the DC Metropolitan Police
Michigan: OC Pepper spray can be no stronger than a 2% concentrate. CS is the only tear gas accepted and can be no larger than approximately 1.2 ounces per can. UV dyes are not legally permitted.
California: It is illegal to purchase, possess, or use any pepper spray that contains more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray,
Texas: It is legal to carry a “small chemical dispenser” of pepper spray, but illegal to carry or own larger quantities.
It is also important to check local laws, as they may address pepper spray possession and usage. It is illegal to bring pepper spray on an airplane in carry on luggage. Furthermore, in Canada, pepper spray is a prohibited weapon. If you are traveling or moving to Canada, do not carry pepper spray with you.
Source 2: https://www.torontodefencelawyers.com/crime-carry-pepper-spray-self-defence/
Source 3: https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/pepper-spray-laws-by-state
Source 4: https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/pepper-spray.html