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Is it Illegal to Carry Pepper Spray in California?

Posted in California Law on June 6, 2016

Pepper spray is a chemical derived from hot chili plants. When someone uses pepper spray against an attacker or vicious animal, it can debilitate the victim—immediately causing pain to his or her eyes and lungs. Pepper spray can cause tightening in the chest and mucus secretions, and it is incredibly uncomfortable. Although effects are temporary, pepper spray can provide a helpful aid in individual protection and self-defense.

In California, citizens are exposed to heavily populated metropolitan locations as well as remote outdoor areas, both of which pose threats to personal safety. Whether you are warding off a human attacker or a ferocious wild animal, pepper spray can significantly help you escape danger. Most California citizens can legally possess and use pepper spray as a tool for personal security.

? What Are California’s Pepper Spray Laws

Pepper spray laws vary from state to state. Pepper spray cannot be used in war, as international statues consider it chemical warfare, which suggests how harmful it can be when users mishandle it. However, it is legal for use by police officers and private individuals for self-defense purposes.

Anyone carrying a pepper spray device must ensure the device follows state rules and regulations. In California, a pepper spray device cannot contain more than 2.5 ounces of pepper spray. The device can only dispel the pepper spray in aerosol form, not as a projectile. You do not need a permit to carry pepper spray, but your pepper spray has to have a warning stating that the product is intended only for self-defense.

The manufacturer must include a shelf-life date, proper usage, and first aid instructions relating to the pepper spray. It must also include a description of the legal consequences of misusing pepper spray. If you use pepper spray for reasons other than if you feel your life or personal safety is at risk, you can face up to three years in prison and fines of $1,000. Intentionally misusing pepper spray can qualify as a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the situation.

? Who Cannot Carry Pepper Spray in California?

In California, the only individuals who cannot legally own a pepper spray device are minors, people with felony or assault crime convictions, those convicted of misusing pepper spray, and people addicted to narcotic drugs. Minors over the age of 16 can lawfully possess and use pepper spray in self-defense with written permission from parents or under parental supervision. Selling pepper spray to a minor is unlawful, as is using the chemical for any reason besides self-defense.

You are allowed to open carry pepper spray in public and private places. However, similar to open carry gun laws, you may have to relinquish the spray on private property if the owner tells you to or else leave the property. Be careful if you open carry pepper spray and ensure you only use it as self-defense—not because you get startled or are angry with someone. If you are caught with pepper spray but identify as someone who legally cannot have it on his or her person, you can face fines and even jail time.

While it is legal for California citizens to carry and use pepper spray, they cannot use it for reasons besides self-defense. If you see someone using pepper spray inappropriately or see a minor buying pepper spray, contact the authorities and report the person


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