Pepper Spray Laws By State

Pepper Spray Laws by State: What You Need to Know

Pepper spray, a non-lethal self-defense tool, can be a lifesaver in dangerous situations. However, it’s crucial to understand that the laws governing its possession and use vary from one state to another in the United States. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of pepper spray Pepper Spray Regulations by state, ensure that you are well-informed and legally compliant.

1. Introduction

Pepper spray often carried for personal safety, is a non-lethal means of deterring potential threats. When used correctly, it can provide a valuable escape option from potential attackers. However, before you decide to carry pepper spray, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the legal framework surrounding it.

2. Eligibility for Carrying Pepper Spray

Before delving into state-specific regulations, let’s establish the basic eligibility criteria for carrying pepper spray:

  • Age Requirement: In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to legally carry pepper spray.
  • Criminal Record: Individuals with felony or assault convictions may be disqualified from carrying pepper spray.

3. States Where Pepper Spray is Unrestricted

The following states have no restrictions on the possession of pepper spray, allowing you to carry it legally in any size as long as you are 18 years or older:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Note: In Washington state, individuals as young as 14 can carry pepper spray with parental permission.

4. States that Restrict Pepper Spray

While most states have no significant restrictions on carrying pepper spray, a few have specific limitations:


In Alaska, you cannot carry pepper spray inside a school unless you are at least 21 years of age. This is one of the mildest restrictions among states.


Arkansas restricts the size of pepper spray containers to less than 5 ounces, meaning you cannot carry more than 4.99 ounces in a single container.


In California, pepper spray containers must not exceed 2.49 ounces. If you carry pepper spray, it must be in a container of less than 2.49 ounces.


Florida restricts the size of pepper spray containers to no more than 2 ounces, with other restrictions mirroring those in most states.


Hawaii has the strictest regulations regarding pepper spray. You must obtain a license to carry it, and the container must be no more than 0.5 ounces.


Pepper spray cannot be shipped through the mail into Massachusetts if it is designed for use against humans. However, individuals who are 18 years old and have no felony record can purchase and use pepper spray.


In Michigan, the pepper spray container may not exceed 1.2 ounces, and it cannot contain more than 18% oleoresin capsicum (OC) or more than 1.4% MC.


In Nevada, containers of pepper spray containing CS tear gas cannot exceed 2 ounces.

New Jersey

Only containers of 0.75 ounces or less are legal in New Jersey. Otherwise, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you can purchase pepper spray.

New York

New York’s restrictions mirror those in Massachusetts. You cannot ship pepper spray designed for use against humans into the state, but it is legal to purchase if you are 18 and have no felony record.


Wisconsin restricts pepper spray containers to 2 ounces or less and limits the OC content to 10%.

5. Other Legal Considerations

Regardless of the state you’re in, remember that using pepper spray in self-defense is generally recognized as legal. However, it’s crucial to use it responsibly and not go beyond the scope of self-defense. Using pepper spray during the commission of a crime can lead to more severe charges.

Additionally, some pepper sprays contain substances that may be illegal under state or federal law. It’s essential to be aware of the contents of the pepper spray you carry.

6. Local Municipality Regulations

In addition to state laws, it’s advisable to check local regulations at the county or city level. Some municipalities may have additional restrictions on carrying pepper spray.

7. Conclusion

Understanding pepper spray laws by state is essential for your safety and legal compliance. While many states allow its possession without significant restrictions, it’s crucial to stay informed about the laws in your area. By doing so, you can ensure you are using this non-lethal self-defense tool responsibly and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I carry pepper spray in my purse or bag in states with no restrictions?
    • Yes, you can carry pepper spray in your purse or bag in states with no restrictions as long as you are 18 years or older.
  2. Are there any restrictions on using pepper spray for self-defense?
    • Pepper spray should only be used in self-defense situations. Using it in an offensive manner or during the commission of a crime may lead to legal consequences.
  3. Can I purchase pepper spray online and have it shipped to my address in restricted states?
    • No, you cannot have pepper spray designed for use against humans shipped to your address in restricted states like Massachusetts and New York.
  4. Are there any specific guidelines for storing pepper spray?
    • While there are no strict guidelines for storing pepper spray, it’s advisable to keep it in a secure, easily accessible location for self-defense purposes.
  5. Do I need to renew my license to carry pepper spray in Hawaii?
    • Yes, in Hawaii, you may need to renew your license to carry pepper spray. Be sure to check local regulations for specific requirements.
  6. What states don’t allow pepper spray?
    • Only 3 states fully prohibit pepper spray – Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin. Illinois and Michigan allow pepper spray with some restrictions. It is legal in all other states.
  7. Is pepper spray legal in all 50 states?
    • No, pepper spray is prohibited for civilian use in Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin. It has some restrictions in Illinois and Michigan but is fully legal in 45 states.
  8. Is pepper spray illegal in some states?
    • Yes, Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin have total bans on civilian use of pepper spray. Illinois and Michigan allow it with certain restrictions. Pepper spray is legal in varying forms in the remaining 45 states.
  9. What pepper spray do police use?
    • Police typically use higher-concentration oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper sprays in the range of 5-10% concentration for more intense effects in subduing suspects. Civilian pepper sprays are only about 0.3-2% OC.
  10. Is it legal to make your pepper spray?
    • In most states, homemade or improvised pepper spray would be considered an illegal weapon. It is safest to only use commercially produced pepper spray that follows FDA guidelines to avoid legal issues.