Is Pepper Spray Legal in NYC?

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Are you constantly worried about being mugged while walking into a dark alley in NYC?

You might want some form of self-defense, and there may be more obvious options, such as owning a firearm, carrying a stun gun, and bringing a personal alarm at all times.

But what can these items offer that a pepper spray cannot? How is pepper spray legal in NYC, and what are the rules regarding its legalities?

There are plenty of reasons that justify the use of pepper spray in most US States, as they were only initially meant for law enforcement personnel.

If you’re in law enforcement like me, you would probably know about the laws prohibiting the use of certain pepper sprays for self-defense.

I’m here to help civilians minimize the risk of any legal actions against the use of prohibited materials and refresh the memory of police who might have forgotten such laws.

Types of Pepper Spray

Since its invention, there have been different types of pepper sprays produced worldwide.

Innovations revolved around having a more humane approach to law enforcement.

Before I tackle the details of pepper spray legal issues in the State of New York, let me discuss the different types of pepper sprays.

Types by Use

Pepper sprays can be classified according to their use.

They are mostly just for animal control, law enforcement applications, and general public self-defense use.

  • Animal Control Sprays

Manufacturers have developed pepper sprays for warding off wild animals such as rabid, stray dogs, and large, scary bears.

These types of pepper sprays are beneficial during camping trips, adventure treks, and nature excursions.

With animal control pepper sprays, you can protect yourself from wild animals without doing any permanent damage.

Like most pepper sprays, animal control sprays also temporarily blind the animals and cause temporary breathing difficulty.

The significant difference is that animal pepper sprays are less potent than pepper sprays intended for human assailants.

  • Law Enforcement and Crowd Control Sprays

Law enforcement pepper sprays typically only contain oleoresin capsicum (OC) in addition to the pressurized aerosol.

On the other hand, crowd control sprays, also called tear gas, usually contain 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS).

CS is an improvement from chloroacetophenone (CN), which is more toxic, less potent, and takes effect longer.

  • Self-Defense Sprays

Since civilians don’t usually carry guns, you probably need a type of pepper spray that is as potent and effective as what we, law enforcement officers, use.

In addition to hand-to-hand combat, you can use pepper sprays with OC or CS as the main ingredient.

You will also have access to products with a combination of both.

Pepper sprays allow you to incapacitate and escape any attacker, call the police, and make a report of the incident.

Excellent products even have ultraviolet dyes that can help link a criminal to a crime scene.

is pepper spray legal in nyc

Types by Delivery System

We can also classify pepper spray by the type of delivery system installed on the device nozzle.

The different types include sprays that sprig smoke-like aerosols, water streams, sticky gels, and pasty foams.

  • Fogger

Fogger pepper sprays have an effective range of four to eight feet, which is the shortest spray distance for all the delivery systems.

My only problem with fogger type pepper sprays is that they sprig out ultra-fine particles that cannot do well in windy conditions.

In fact, incidents about fogger sprays blowing the chemicals back have been reported.

During a very windy situation, you might end up incapacitating yourself instead of an attacker if you’re using a fogger pepper spray.

This type of pepper spray is best for indoor and non-windy situations.

  • Stream

A stream pepper spray can spritz a steady jet of liquid in a range of 15 or 20 feet, depending on the size of the can.

It can work effectively even in situations where there is a steady breeze because it has a nozzle that uses a stronger force.

Although a steam pepper spray has fewer chances of blowing back towards your direction, smaller particles can still be blown back towards you.

Stream pepper sprays are more intended for outdoor use, as you may risk inhaling some of the particles if you use them indoors.

  • Gel

Gel pepper sprays can reach an effective range of up to 25 feet, but they are more intended for indoor use.

As the gel makes contact with an assailant, it sticks and slides down to extend the damage.

There is little risk of splatter and blowback with gel pepper sprays because of its high-powered conveying nozzle.

  • Foam

Foam-type pepper sprays are similar to gel pepper sprays.

The sprayed substance also attaches to the intended target to coat their face, ultimately increasing the damage as it slides down.

Foam pepper sprays have an effective range of six to eight feet and are mostly intended for indoor use.

Which of the types previously stated are legal for public use in New York City?

New York Pepper Spray Laws are dictated under the New York Consolidated Laws and Section 265.20 Exemptions of the Penal Laws.

The law dictates that only a pocket-sized canister of pepper spray is allowed for civilian use.

It further suggests that the self-defense spray may comprise a chemical or organic substance intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through vaporization.

The law also states that the device may contain tear gas, pepper, or any similar disabling agent.

There is no condition that a particular delivery system for pepper sprays is illegal to purchase and use in NYC.

Exemptions for the Use of Pepper Spray

NY pepper spray laws stipulate that no person younger than 18 years of age can own or carry a pepper spray around.

An exemption is also given for convicted criminals who committed felony and assault and for persons convicted outside New York for crimes that also constitute felony or assault.

This exemption iterates that no person under these exemptions may carry and possess a pepper spray device.

Where Can I Purchase Pepper Spray in NYC?

Other parts of the NY pepper spray laws indicate that only a licensed firearms dealer, pharmacist, or state-approved vendor can sell pepper sprays.

This indication means that you can only purchase legally approved pepper sprays from armory shops, hunting stores, and pharmacies.

These sellers can only sell up to two canisters of pocket-sized pepper spray to one person at a time.

The law instructs these vendors, and in effect, the manufacturers, to supply pepper sprays with complete markings and inserts.

Markings and inserts found with every pepper spray device contain material from a tasked group of people in the health department, criminal justice, and state police systems.

  • Markings

Pepper spray markings should indicate that the device is only intended for self-defense and that any other use is a criminal offense.

It should also specify that the canister contains harmful substances and that you should handle it with care.

A third marking states that only licensed sellers can sell the product, and the fourth mark should talk about the age and criminal restriction cause.

  • Inserts

Product inserts should have instructions for use, first-aid info, storage instructions, safety info, and a toll-free contact number for safety and self-defense training.

  • Requirements for Purchasers

Licensed vendors will usually look for proof of age and require a signed statement from the buyer.

It should state that you’ve never been convicted of any felonies or assault crimes.

Can You Order Pepper Spray Online in NY?

New York Pepper Spray Law does not allow the online purchase of pepper spray if the supplier cannot incorporate a way to prove the buyer’s age and get his or her sworn statement.

Many out-of-state or international sellers are not licensed to sell pepper spray to residents in New York.

Be wary of online sellers who ignore the law because you can end up having violations when you purchase pepper spray from someone who is not accredited.

Some online stores even post ads that state all their products are 100 percent legal in the state of New York, but it is better if you do a background check.

You might want to avoid the foregone action of other buyers who have unwittingly violated the pepper spray laws.

Is Mace Legal in NYC?

Mace is a famous brand of products, including pepper sprays, stun guns, animal sprays, and personal sound alarms.

Their pepper sprays fall under the same classification as the different OC and CS sprays; therefore, Mace pepper sprays are also legal to purchase and own in NYC.

To answer the question “Is Mace legal in NYC?”, it all falls to the correct choice of their pocket-sized pepper spray products.

In fact, “mace” and “maced” are words that have been used interchangeably with “pepper-spray” and “pepper-sprayed,” respectively.

In addition to Mace, other popular brands of pepper spray include Sabre and Fox Labs.


Is pepper spray legal in NYC? Yes, it is.

Anyone trying to purchase pepper spray in New York only has to consider that they are older than 17 years and have never been convicted of any felonies or assault crimes.

If you live in New York, you have the option to own and carry around any of the types of pepper sprays for civilian use.

With the correct pepper spray, you can have an additional line of self-defense.

Law enforcement officers can question anyone who commits any violations under the New York Pepper Spray Laws.

3 thoughts on “Is Pepper Spray Legal in NYC?”

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