Pepper Spray Laws – Arizona

Arizona is a decidedly good state for pepper spray users, as they have absolutely no restriction on the type of solution or the quantity that one carries. If you want a pocket-sized canister of OC or a giant jug of CN/CS tear gas you will be all set.

Arizona is rightly known as a pro-Second Amendment state, and that attitude definitely extends to the use of defensive sprays by civilians.

flag of Arizona

Arizona is only concerned with the criminal misuse of defensive sprays, and though they do not have a statute specifically covering such an act the improper use of force through administration of any pepper spray would be covered by a variety of other statutes.

Notably, you may not use any defensive spray in response to a simple verbal provocation.

We will tell you everything else you need to know and the remainder of this article and have also included the most relevant State statutes at the very end for your review.

Fast Facts

  • Arizona allows citizens to carry any size defensive spray canister they choose.
  • Any formulation of defensive spray is permitted in Arizona. You may choose from OC, CN, CS, or any blend so long as it is not designed to cause any permanent injury.
  • Defensive sprays may be employed as a reasonable use of force to counter the unlawful use of force against you or someone else in Arizona, but you may not use defensive spray in response to a verbal provocation alone.

Overview

Arizona makes only passing few mentions of pepper spray and other defensive sprays in their law books. Plainly stated, you can carry any kind of spray you want and in any quantity that you can put up with carrying so long as it is a spray that is not intended or designed to cause any lasting injury.

That means you are wise to stick with the common formulations available in purpose-designed defensive products such as OC and tear gas formulations.

Don’t use anything homebrewed, and don’t use wasp spray or anything of the like because that would be use contrary to its labeling. Plus, wasp spray is a terrible defensive spray, but that is a topic for another article.

It is worth noting that Arizona makes specific mention to the use of force other than deadly physical force in self-defense. Specifically, you may not use any defensive spray in response to a verbal provocation alone.

You should take this to mean that there must be other evidence that someone else is imminently going to employ unlawful force against you before you pepper spray them. If they are simply calling you names, insulting you and so forth don’t be so quick to dispense product!

Also worth noting, based on Arizona’s definitions of deadly physical force and dangerous offense the use of any defensive spray would certainly not fall into either category unless the use of a defensive spray precipitated some other act that did fit into those categories.

This might sound like mincing words, and perhaps it is, but these classifications and definitions are extremely important when the time comes to defend your actions that you took in a self-defense situation.

You’ll be happy to know that pepper sprays and other defensive sprays are definitely a lesser category of force in Arizona.

Conclusion

Arizona is a dependable and permissive state for citizens who want to use defensive sprays of all kinds. No commercial formulation is forbidden, and neither is any quantity; you can carry any type and any size you want in the state.

It is worth noting that Arizona specifically forbids the use of defensive sprays in response to a verbal only threat, so don’t go around thinking you can give someone the spicy stuff in response to them mouthing off, and you shouldn’t have any additional problems.

Relevant State Statutes

Below you will find a selection of the most relevant Arizona state statutes concerning the use of pepper spray and other defensive sprays.

Note that just because a statute does not specifically mention pepper spray, defensive spray, or any other chemical sprays it does not mean it is not applicable.

Using any defensive spray against another person is a use of force, and will be judged accordingly, right or wrong, depending on the context in which the spray was used.

Remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse, so make sure you read and understand all of these state statutes!

13-105. Definitions

In this title, unless the context otherwise requires:

(…)

(c) ” Recklessly” means, with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a 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 nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk.

13. ” Dangerous offense” means an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.

14. ” Deadly physical force” means force that is used with the purpose of causing death or serious physical injury or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of creating a substantial risk of causing death or serious physical injury.

15. ” Deadly weapon” means anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm.

(…)

32. ” Physical force” means force used upon or directed toward the body of another person and includes confinement, but does not include deadly physical force.

33. ” Physical injury” means the impairment of physical condition.

13-403. Justification; use of physical force

The use of physical force upon another person which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances:

(…)

4. A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious physical injury upon himself may use physical force upon that person to the extent reasonably necessary to thwart the result.

(…)

6. A person may otherwise use physical force upon another person as further provided in this chapter.

13-404. Justification; self-defense

A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.

B. The threat or use of physical force against another is not justified:

1. In response to verbal provocation alone; or

To resist an arrest that the person knows or should know is being made by a peace officer or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful, unless the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds that allowed by law; or

3. If the person provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force, unless:

(a) The person withdraws from the encounter or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely withdraw from the encounter; and

(b) The other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against the person.

13-406. Justification; defense of a third person

A person is justified in threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force against another to protect a third person if, under the circumstances as a reasonable person would believe them to be, such person would be justified under section 13-404 or 13-405 in threatening or using physical force or deadly physical force to protect himself against the unlawful physical force or deadly physical force a reasonable person would believe is threatening the third person he seeks to protect.

13-408. Justification; use of physical force in defense of property

A person is justified in using physical force against another when and to the extent that a reasonable person would believe it necessary to prevent what a reasonable person would believe is an attempt or commission by the other person of theft or criminal damage involving tangible movable property under his possession or control, but such person may use deadly physical force under these circumstances as provided in sections 13-405, 13-406 and 13-411.

13-414. Justification; use of reasonable and necessary means

A correctional officer as defined in section 41-1661 may use all reasonable and necessary means including deadly force to prevent the attempt of a prisoner sentenced to the custody of the state department of corrections to:

1. Escape from custody or from a correctional facility.

2. Take another person as a hostage.

3. Cause serious bodily harm to another person.

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