Pepper Spray & Mace Considered Firearms in Washington DC & other States
By angelamontana

Posted: August 6, 2014

pepsprauDID YOU KNOW that Washington DC has labeled pepper spray and mace as firearms, and you must complete a registration form when you purchase pepper spray or mace in Washington DC?

The Metropolitan Police Department website states the following:

If a person purchases a self-defense spray from a person or business located in the District, the seller will provide a registration form to be completed by the purchaser. The seller is then required to forward this registration form to the MPD Firearms Registration Section.

A person may use a self-defense spray only as reasonable force to defend themselves or their property and only if the self-defense spray meets the requirements above.

The website page also states that although it is legal for a person over the age of 18 to possess these sprays in Washington DC, the only legal types of sprays are “a mixture of a lacrimator including chloroacetophenone, alphacloracetophenone, phenylchlormethylketone, orthochlorobenazalm-alononitrile or oleoresin capsicum” AND the spray has to be in an aerosol container that has “clearly written instructions for use” and that also includes an expiration date.   This information can be found under D.C. Official Code § 7-2502.12.  

Other states with restrictions on self defense sprays include: Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

  • Michigan restricts pepper spray based on weight (maximum of 1.2 oz) and OC concentration (up to 10%).   The Michigan statute reads that “Not more than 35 grams of any combination of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile and inert ingredients (CS gas); or A solution containing not more than 10% oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) and is used in the protection of your person or property which would justify the use of physical force. It cannot be sold to a minor.”  A private citizen in Michigan cannot possess tear gas or mace.
  • In Massachusetts, residents of the state may only buy self defense sprays from actual licensed Firearm Dealers within the state, and it is illegal for pepper spray to be mailed to Massachusetts, but it may be lawfully carried by private citizens. Before it is is legal for any resident of the state to purchase the spray, however, you must obtain a Firearms Identification Card (FID). .  
  • Residents of New York may only purchase human pepper spray from local stores (not online) that are licensed Firearm Dealers or licensed Pharmacists within the state of New York, and they must be at least 18 years old to purchase and can not be convicted of an assault or be a felon.  There are also size restrictions on the size of the container of pepper spray or mace you carry. You can, however, order animal pepper spray online.
  • In Wisconsin, if you plan on ordering human self defense sprays, note the following from statute; Wisconsin Statutes Section 941.26 and Justice Regulations 14.01 et seq. : A “device or container that contains a combination of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients” is allowed. Regulation allows a maximum of 10% OC with 15-60 grams as the max amount allowed to be purchased. Pepper Sprays such as the 1/2 ounce and 2 ounce sprays would be allowed. Also, the device can’t be camouflaged, and there must be a safety feature implemented so that there is no accidental discharge. These said devices can not have a range of over 20 feet, but must shoot over 6 feet to be considered effective. Additionally, there are certain product and label requirements, which are the following: the phone number of the manufacturer must be on the label of the device, and it may not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Product can only be sold in tamper-proof (sealed) packages.”  

In Montana, and all other states not listed above, there are no restrictions on self defense sprays.  This information is something to keep in mind during your travels.

(Information via; Image via

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