Before we begin to discuss the full spectrum of pepper spray laws I would like to make two things clear. First, there is a major difference especially in the United States in the legality of pepper spray used against wild animals as opposed to humans. There are more relaxed laws on these specific types of animal defense pepper sprays and relate mostly to bears, mountain lions and other wild animals native to certain parts of the US. Secondly, please take this info as a guide only and that the information given was correct at the time of writing. Laws change and my aim of this site is only to provide people concerned about their safety information about pepper spray.
Common questions about pepper spray laws are “When is it right to use pepper spray?” And “What is the legal way to use pepper spray?” Basically, pepper spray is just like any other self defense device and should not be used maliciously or irresponsibly. Failure to abide by this simple rule could result in criminal or civil liability. Pepper spray should only ever be used in self defense from personal injury or abduction/arrest, when you are seriously threatened and if your life is in real danger.
Key points to be aware of is that aggressive or instigative use of pepper spray is 100% illegal and the force you use must be deemed reasonable in the situation. Said another way, this means that you cannot legally pepper spray someone simply because they seem scary or dubious to you or because you think they may do something to you. The use of Pepper spray on humans is only ever acceptable as a response to real danger.
To begin with, the following info regarding pepper spray is geared mostly to the United States.
Quite generally, even though there may be certain restrictions in some of the United States regarding possession, formulation, size and sale, Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states. Defense sprays are forbidden by regulations in some states whereas other states allow the individual cities to make their own legislation. Because laws vary quite considerably between state and especially country, it is a good idea to check first if you are traveling with pepper spray.
Most of the different pepper spray laws relate to OC concentration, the supply and also the size of the pepper spray canister. Some states may only allow an OC concentration of 2% while other states go as high as 10%. Furthermore, the amount of pepper spray per canister or device is often restricted with varying levels allowed between localities. Below are some states that have specific pepper spray laws that vary significantly from the common United States laws.
New York Pepper Spray Laws
You are allowed to carry a defense spray while in New York however it must have been purchased from within the states boundaries. Unlike other parts of the US, it is illegal for pepper spray to be mailed or delivered into the state of New York. The size of a legal pepper spray canister in New York must fit into a standard pocket and as a result, larger canisters or cans or illegal. New York law also states that a single person may only ever buy two canisters in any transaction and multiple transactions from the same source are also illegal. In NY, you can only legally buy pepper spray from a pharmacist or a fully licensed firearm merchant, you must be over the age of 18 and have no felony convictions.
Massachusetts Pepper Spray Laws
The laws regarding Pepper spray in Massachusetts is much the same as New York with one main difference. You must also obtain a Firearms Identification Card (FID) to make a legal purchase.
California Pepper Spray Laws
Again, much the same as New York. Differences here include the fact that you don’t have to obtain any special state or federal permits. You must still be over the age of 18 and have no criminal record. Any pepper spray canister must only hold a maximum of 2.5 ounces of active product and must be labeled as a self defense product only.
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Since 1972, pepper spray has been internationally banned for use in war thanks to the Biological Weapons convention.
In WA, Australia, carrying pepper spray is legal if it is intended for lawful self defense but only if there are reasonable grounds it may be needed. The burden of use is also carried by the user and not the alleged attacker. In all other states of Australia, personal use of pepper spray outside of the Police and armed forces in considered illegal.
In Canada all products that relate to self defense against animals are legal however any type of pepper spray or product that are labeled with the words pepper spray, mace, etc, or otherwise originally produced for use on humans are classified as a restricted weapon and are therefore illegal. Government permits are required for special officers carrying pepper spray.
In Denmark a trial is currently underway where police officers carry pepper spray as part of their standard equipment however possession of pepper spray is illegal for private citizens.
In the Dominican Republic, it is legal to own and purchase pepper spray at any age over the counter. Owning civilian grade pepper spray is endorsed by authorities as means of defense against stray dogs as well as a means of defense against human assailants as opposed to the use of a firearm.
In Finland possession of pepper spray requires a license and OC sprays have a 5% concentration limit.
In Germany, the only allowed pepper spray is for the defense against animals. They have a specific mark and any canister or device not containing this approved mark is considered restricted and illegal.
In Hong Kong you must have a valid license from the HK police force otherwise possession of pepper spray could result in imprisonment of up to 14 years and a $100,000 fine.
In Israel, before 1980, you needed a firearms license to buy or carry pepper spray. Since deregulation at that time OC and CS spray can now be purchased by any member of the public without restriction and carried in public.
In Italy it is legal to own an OC spray so long as the active principle is less than 10%. Any type of CS spray is illegal.
In both Belgium and Netherlands pepper spray is classified as a prohibited weapon, and it is legal only for police officers.
In Norway real pepper spray is only used by the police. There is a publicly available defense spray often called pepper spray however it is actually based on isopropyl alcohol.
In Poland, the only requirement to purchase and own pepper spray is that you are over 18 years of age.
In Russia pepper spray is a fully legal self-defense weapon and can be bought without license by any person over the age of 18 subject to identification and sighting of a valid passport.
In South Africa you can be charged with using pepper spray as anything but a defensive weapon however it is not classified as a licensed product and is freely available as an over the counter security product.
In Sweden even though pepper spray is classified as an offensive weapon and its possession requires a license, there has not been an issue of a pepper spray license since 2006.
In Spain approved pepper spray made with 5% CS is available to anyone over 18.
You cannot take pepper spray into any airport or federal building and you should also check with local aviation authorities as to whether or not you can legally carry Pepper spray in your checked baggage no matter what the pepper spray laws are in either your current location or your destination.
Even though pepper spray is made from a delicious item from our fresh vegetable department at the supermarket, most civilized countries classify it as a weapon. As a result, it is restricted in one way or another worldwide.
Pepper spray causes temporary blindness, pain, breathing problems and panic and if used to excess it can actually kill a human. It is for these reasons and the enormous variety of legislation that you should be 100% aware of the pepper spray laws for your location should you be thinking of obtaining or purchasing Sabre pepper spray.
It pays for you to be sure when it comes to the legality of using Pepper Spray in your location. Also, these laws were current at the time of writing this article however like all things in life...they are subject to change and should be treated as a guide only.