Massachusetts has a violent crime rate of 3.1 per 1,000 people, which is lower than the US average (4.0).
That said, any law enforcement agency in the state will tell you to still practice caution, especially in public areas.
So if you live in the Bay State, it is normal to ask, is pepper spray legal in MA?
Any type of defense spray is great to have, but pepper spray products are particularly effective.
Before we discuss if it’s legal to own and carry one, let’s first talk about the benefits of using it.
The Advantages of Using Self-Defense Spray
Few other devices or tools can match the effectiveness of a self-defense spray when it comes to personal protection.
The mere sight of it can discourage people who have ill intentions.
Those foolish enough to still try end up with temporary blindness and burning pain on the affected skin.
It is a very powerful deterrent that can stop even the most persistent attackers in their tracks.
The result would be the same even if you were forced to use it on a very aggressive animal.
At the same time, it is not lethal as manufacturers design it just to do enough to incapacitate a perpetrator.
Despite their potency, defense spray products do not leave any lasting damage.
Another reason why many people include pepper spray in their defense kit is that it is highly portable.
It does not take up much space and would fit nicely in a bag or purse.
What is more, it is very easy to use.
Granted, you would need a bit of practice before you can confidently wield it.
The good thing is that some defense spray products come with a practice canister precisely for this reason.
Also, even if you manage to buy from a brand that does not offer it, all you need is a couple of practice sprays.
It should give you a good idea of how far the spray goes or how strong it is.
Things to Consider Before Buying Pepper Spray
Any type of defense spray, including animal pepper spray, is a must-have, even in Massachusetts.
Nevertheless, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you buy one.
We have already mentioned that you need to practice using it before you start carrying it around.
Doing so will allow you to use the pepper spray product properly.
You would be more effective in using it to stop would-be assailants.
At the same time, those around you will be safer whenever you use it.
Another thing you need to remember is that Massachusetts has pepper spray size restrictions in place.
So before you head out to a nearby licensed firearm dealer, you should learn more about this.
Otherwise, you might end up wasting money on animal pepper spray or another type of defense spray that you can’t use after all.
The state also implements other limitations, but we’ll discuss them in the next section.
Finally, before buying any type of defense spray, you should look at the alternatives available.
For instance, you could first learn more about personal safety alarms or rape alarms.
These are devices that make a lot of noise during emergencies.
Once you activate it, you could draw the attention of people around you and discourage your assailant from attacking you.
Is Pepper Spray Legal in MA?
Now that we have established the benefits and challenges of carrying pepper spray, it’s time to answer the very important question.
Is pepper spray legal in MA?
The good news is that, like in all the other states, people in Massachusetts are allowed to own and carry it in public.
However, there is a catch, or a number of them, actually.
First, you must be over 18 before you can legally buy and carry it around.
That said, you do not need to have a firearm identification (FID) card to get one from a licensed firearm dealer.
A firearm identification card permits those over the age of 14 to own or bear firearms.
The FID also applies to non-large capacity feeding devices and ammunition.
Massachusetts removed this requirement in 2014, but its age restriction on pepper sprays is just one of many.
If the state convicted you as a youthful offender or delinquent child, you wouldn’t be allowed to buy or own a pepper spray.
It also covers any felony, misdemeanors punishable with two years of incarceration, and violent crimes.
You would be subject to the same restrictions if you violated guidelines on using and transporting weapons, ammunition, and drugs.
If you have been committed because of a mental illness, you would need your doctor’s affidavit before you could buy pepper spray.
The situation is similar if you’re recovering from alcohol or substance use disorder.
You would need to secure the affidavit from a physician or psychologist before purchasing the defense spray.
Finally, the same restrictions apply if you are the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant or an illegal alien.
On top of all these, you are not allowed to ship human formula pepper spray into the state.
Most importantly, you are only allowed to use it for self-defense purposes.
This rule applies whether your attacker is a human or an animal.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can run afoul of the pepper spray law in Massachusetts.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that you read the fine print before buying.
Penalties for Those Who Violate the Pepper Spray Laws in MA
At this point, you know what you are allowed and not allowed to do in Massachusetts with regard to pepper spray.
It is important to understand the consequences if you do not abide by these guidelines.
Armed with this knowledge, you will have a deeper appreciation of what is at stake.
First, you need to know that only licensed firearms dealers are allowed to sell pepper sprays.
If you violate this law, you will be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000.
It could also land you in prison for up to two years.
Anyone caught selling pepper spray to someone younger than 18 and has no FID is also culpable.
The punishment is a fine of not more than $300.
These should not be a problem since you are mainly concerned with purchasing pepper sprays for personal use, not selling them.
That said, it is something that you should know.
Now, if you’re underaged and you get caught buying pepper spray, you’ll have to pay a fine of not more than $300.
The only exception is if you are over 14 years old and have a valid FID.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
In Massachusetts, owning and carrying pepper spray is legal, but it involves some restrictions.
You have every right to defend yourself when faced with dangerous situations.
However, integrated within these rights are responsibilities that are designed to protect others as well.
That is why it is essential to know both sides of the coin regarding pepper sprays or any other self-defense tool.
This is true not only in Massachusetts but in any part of the world.
While Massachusetts pepper spray laws enable those who seek personal protection legally, they also try to prevent people from using pepper spray to harm others.