Pennsylvania is the perfect travel destination for road trippers because it connects the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast and the Great Lakes.
Travelers are welcomed by stunning natural scenery, creative arts and culture, and great food.
However, Pennsylvania is not exempt from theft and property crimes.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to carry a device with you to help you get away from an assailant.
However, you might be asking, is pepper spray legal in Pennsylvania?
Let’s find out to make sure you don’t break any laws when visiting or moving to the state.
- What Is a Pepper Spray?
- Is Pepper Spray Legal in Pennsylvania?
- How About Tasers and Stun Guns?
- Are There Restrictions on the Use of Pepper Spray in PA?
- When Can You Use Pepper Spray?
- How to Use Pepper Spray Correctly
- Other Ways to Protect Yourself When Traveling
- Stay Safe in Pennsylvania
What Is a Pepper Spray?
When it comes to self-defense, a few techniques really work.
When you’re out late at night or traveling alone, it is common to feel unsafe.
Pepper spray is a tested non-lethal weapon that can help to defend yourself.
This device contains an active ingredient that is naturally found in chili peppers.
When sprayed on the face, the effects can be extremely painful to weaken your attacker.
Its effects include:
- Breathing problems
- Temporary blindness
- Extreme burning sensation
Again, pepper sprays are a non-lethal form of self-defense, which means the symptoms will wear off after some time, usually after 15 to 45 minutes.
Once you have successfully hurt your attacker, don’t wait any longer and run to a safe place.
Is Pepper Spray Legal in Pennsylvania?
Generally, pepper spray is legal to buy, carry, use, and ship to Pennsylvania.
Individuals who are at least 18 years old can walk in the streets of Pennsylvania while carrying pepper spray and use it for personal protection or self-defense.
You’re not required to have a license to carry it. However, there are a few places, such as schools and courthouses, where you cannot possess pepper spray.
How About Tasers and Stun Guns?
Stun guns are hand-held devices designed to temporarily immobilize or incapacitate someone using an electric current.
Unlike pepper sprays that can be aimed at a distance, stun guns require direct contact.
Meanwhile, an electroshock weapon fires barbs that incapacitate muscle functions, causing temporary incapacity.
A taser is just as painful as a stun gun, and it can be aimed at a distance.
Tasers and stun guns are also allowed in Pennsylvania.
However, there are several policies you should know about.
For example, you have to be at least 18 years old to carry a Taser or stun gun, and you must not have any convicted felonies on record.
Furthermore, people banned from possessing or using a stun gun or Taser in PA include those who:
- were convicted of felonies or other crimes, including domestic violence and DUI,
- are subject to domestic violence protective order that requires them to relinquish their weapons,
- and have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution or found by a court to be incompetent.
Are There Restrictions on the Use of Pepper Spray in PA?
Compared to other states, Pennsylvania is more lenient in its policies on using pepper spray.
Aside from being legal, there’s no limit on the amount of pepper spray you can buy or carry.
However, there are certain places or areas where you are not allowed to carry pepper spray.
These include schools and courthouses.
Moreover, you can carry pepper spray inside a commercial plane.
If you’re flying to Pennsylvania and bringing pepper spray, it should be packed in your checked baggage.
If you don’t follow these rules and are found in possession of pepper spray inside the plane, it can be confiscated.
When Can You Use Pepper Spray?
The only time you are allowed to use pepper spray on someone in Pennsylvania is when you’re under attack.
It isn’t a toy to be played around with.
If you use pepper spray on someone for other reasons except for self-defense, causing harm and injury to that person, then you might be subject to criminal charges.
Even though it isn’t considered a “weapon” in Pennsylvania, the laws that apply to personal injury still apply if you use pepper spray on someone.
How to Use Pepper Spray Correctly
Knowing how to use pepper spray correctly is the key to feeling confident as you walk on the streets alone.
Follow these tips when using pepper spray:
1. Get Comfortable With Holding the Spray
One problem you might have is if the attacker can take the pepper spray from you.
The best way to prevent this is to get comfortable holding the canister. This means you have to get a good grip.
Use your thumb instead of your index finger so you can wrap your four fingers and palm around the canister.
2. Maintain a Safe and Appropriate Distant
Most pepper sprays can shoot up to 10 feet.
Keeping a good distance will not only keep you safer but helps you get a more accurate aim.
When deploying pepper spray, you should never reach out at an arm’s length to prevent the attacker from knocking it out of your hand.
3. Learn How To Use Your Device
Most pepper sprays have a twist lock that allows you to switch the canister, so it doesn’t discharge automatically.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use your pepper spray.
You should know that different brands use different spray patterns.
The most common is the pepper spray stream.
This type of pepper spray is effective under windy situations as it sprays with a higher force.
It is also less likely to spray back in your direction.
However, a pepper spray stream is not advisable to use in indoor settings because you run the risk of inhaling some of the sprays or getting splashed.
Lastly, only disarm your device when you know you’re in a safe place.
4. Aim for the Eyes
To maximize the effects of pepper spray, you want to aim at your attacker’s eyes.
Pepper spray can cause temporary blindness, giving you an opportunity to run and escape.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice will make you more familiar with how to hold, aim, and spray.
Purchase a couple of canisters to have a few extras that you can use for practice.
Make sure you practice in a safe, outdoor location where no one will be accidentally injured, such as in your backyard.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself When Traveling
Relying on your device alone will not guarantee that you will be completely safe from an assailant.
Thus, it helps to know some more self-defense strategies, especially when visiting a new place.
Let Someone Know About Your Daily Itinerary
Regularly update your family or close friends about where you’re going.
Whether you’re traveling alone into the wilderness, let someone know when to expect your return and your exact route.
Stash money and credit cards in different places.
Keep some money in your purse and additional money and cards in a separate bag.
Research Your Destination
Be aware of safety concerns in your destination, including how to dress.
When in doubt, opt to stay conservative to avoid possible harassment incidents.
Also, talk to locals about neighborhoods to avoid, especially in the dark.
Know Where to Seek Help
Keep a copy of local police hotlines. Call 911 for emergencies.
Stay Safe in Pennsylvania
To wrap it up, is pepper spray legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, it’s absolutely okay to carry pepper spray in Pennsylvania as long as you are at least 18 years old.
Make sure to use it only for self-defense or the defense of another person or property.
Lastly, don’t rely too much on your device.
Keep in mind the travel tips and suggestions we mentioned above to keep yourself safe while exploring the great outdoors.