Pepper Spray Laws – Alaska

Alaska is a vast and rugged wilderness for the most part, and very much the last remaining American frontier. The people of Alaska value self-reliance, hardiness and handling one’s own affairs, and the states statutes reflect that especially when it comes to weapons, including defensive weapons like pepper spray and other chemical sprays.

Alaska places virtually no restrictions on any kind of defensive spray, and is instead only concerned with the criminal misuse of said sprays.

flag of Alaska

You can obtain and carry any kind of defensive spray you want in Alaska, be it OC, CN, CS, or some other chemical, including blends, and in any size canister your heart desires.

In this article we will provide you with a summary of Alaska’s pepper spray laws and include the most relevant statutes below for your review.

Fast Facts

  • Alaska has no restrictions on the type of defensive spray civilians may access and carry; OC pepper sprays as well as CN or CS tear gasses are allowed, as are blends of the above.
  • Size of defensive sprays is similarly unrestricted, and you can carry anything from a pocket-sized canister to a larger “riot” bottle.
  • Alaska places defensive sprays in the category of “defensive weapons”, those specifically not designed to cause death or serious injury.

Overview

You can carry any kind of defensive spray you want to in Alaska, as the state has no restrictions on chemical type, size or any other relevant features.

Interestingly, Alaska classifies pepper spray and other defensive sprays as defensive weapons, a definition found in the statutes that includes electronic stun guns, and clarifies all as not being designed to cause death or serious injury.

This is particularly useful in a self-defense context because self-defense sprays are already codified as “less-lethal”, assuming that your chosen spray fits the criteria of course!

That being said, you cannot use any defensive weapon including chemical sprays of any kind without justification; you must have a reasonable fear of injury or death before employing any spray against another person.

Doing so without reasonable justification might see you charged with assault of the fourth or even third degree, with the latter being a felony. Just because defensive sprays (including pepper spray) are expressly categorized as and intended to be in effect non-lethal, that does not mean they will not cause injury and all of them will obviously inflict excruciating pain.

If you deploy pepper spray against someone without justification and that leads to a domino effect that results in their severe injury, you could be facing even more serious charges.

So long as you’re not acting criminally or recklessly with your pepper spray in Alaska you will not have any issues.

Conclusion

Alaska is a state that places significant emphasis on self-reliance and personal responsibility, and this is definitely reflected in their weapons statutes. All sorts of defensive sprays are completely legal, both chemical composition and dispenser size.

You may select any kind of spray that serves your purposes and carry it pretty much wherever you wish, since the state has classified defensive sprays as defensive weapons.

You should be aware that you may not deploy any defensive spray without justification, as doing so could still warrant assault charges against you.

Relevant State Statutes

Sec. 11.81.900. Definitions.

(a) For purposes of this title, unless the context requires otherwise,

(1) a person acts “intentionally” with respect to a result described by a provision of law defining an offense when the person’s conscious objective is to cause that result; when intentionally causing a particular result is an element of an offense, that intent need not be the person’s only objective;

(2) a person acts “knowingly” with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a provision of law defining an offense when the person is aware that the conduct is of that nature or that the circumstance exists; when knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, that knowledge is established if a person is aware of a substantial probability of its existence, unless the person actually believes it does not exist; a person who is unaware of conduct or a circumstance of which the person would have been aware had that person not been intoxicated acts knowingly with respect to that conduct or circumstance;

(3) a person acts “recklessly” with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a provision of law defining an offense when the person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists; the risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation; a person who is unaware of a risk of which the person would have been aware had that person not been intoxicated acts recklessly with respect to that risk;

(4) a person acts with “criminal negligence” with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a provision of law defining an offense when the person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists; the risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

(…)

(20) “defensive weapon” means an electric stun gun, or a device to dispense mace or a similar chemical agent, that is not designed to cause death or serious physical injury;

Sec. 11.81.330. Justification: Use of nondeadly force in defense of self.

(a) A person is justified in using nondeadly force upon another when and to the extent the person reasonably believes it is necessary for self-defense against what the person reasonably believes to be the use of unlawful force by the other person, unless

(1) the person used the force in mutual combat not authorized by law;

(2) the person claiming self-defense provoked the other’s conduct with intent to cause physical injury to the other;

(3) the person claiming self-defense was the initial aggressor; or

(4) the force used was the result of using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument the person claiming self-defense possessed while

(A) acting alone or with others to further a felony criminal objective of the person or one or more other persons;

(B) a participant in a felony transaction or purported transaction or in immediate flight from a felony transaction or purported transaction in violation of AS 11.71; or

(C) acting alone or with others in revenge for, retaliation for, or response to actual or perceived conduct by a rival or perceived rival, or a member or perceived member of a rival group, if the person using deadly force, or the group on whose behalf the person is acting, has a history or reputation for violence among civilians.

(b) A person who is not justified in using force in self-defense in the circumstances listed in (a)(1) – (3) of this section is justified in using force in self-defense if that person has withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated the withdrawal to the other person, but the other person persists in continuing the incident by the use of unlawful force.

Sec. 11.41.220. Assault in the third degree.

(a) A person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if that person

(1) recklessly

(A) places another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument;

(B) causes physical injury to another person by means of a dangerous instrument; or

(C) while being 18 years of age or older,

(i) causes physical injury to a child under 12 years of age and the injury would cause a reasonable caregiver to seek medical attention from a health care professional in the form of diagnosis or treatment;

(ii) causes physical injury to a child under 12 years of age on more than one occasion;

(2) with intent to place another person in fear of death or serious physical injury to the person or the person’s family member, makes repeated threats to cause death or serious physical injury to another person;

(3) while being 18 years of age or older, knowingly causes physical injury to a child under 16 years of age but at least 12 years of age and the injury reasonably requires medical treatment;

(4) with criminal negligence, causes serious physical injury under AS 11.81.900(b)(58)(B) to another person by means of a dangerous instrument; or

(5) commits a crime that is a violation of AS 11.41.230(a)(1) or (2) and, within the preceding 10 years, the person was convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes under

(…)

(e) Assault in the third degree is a class C felony.

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