No matter what kind of self-defense weapon you want, you’ll need it to double-check and make sure it’s legal in the state where you reside or work.
Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, laws concerning weapons are anything but uniform in the US, and what is completely legal and even innocuous in one state might be a blazing, red-flag felony in another.
Naturally, some states are a whole lot more permissive than others, and depending on where you live, your tool of choice might be completely out of the question.
How about Florida? What self-defense weapons are legal in Florida?
In Florida, guns, knives, self-defense sprays, electric weapons and billie clubs are legal as self-defense purposes, along with a few other types of weapon.
Compared to many other states, Florida is significantly more permissive when it comes to self-defense weapons but also, surprisingly considering its reputation, somewhat more restrictive.
In any case, keep reading and I’ll tell you more that you need to know when arming yourself in the Sunshine State…
Florida has a well-known and well-deserved reputation as an extremely pro-gun state, and this is with good reason.
Guns are plentiful in Florida, and the citizenry exercises its right to concealed carry at a high rate.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the state will soon be another one that allows constitutional or permitless carry within its borders.
Generally, citizens in Florida that are permitted to carry or are doing so under any other lawful circumstances may carry any kind of handgun that they want for self-defense purposes.
Similarly, all conventional types of long gun are likewise legal for self-defense, though not for concealed carry on or about your person.
It should be noted that Florida statute 790.06 lists what weapons are allowed to be concealed carried with the benefit of a concealed weapons permit in the state.
You’ll note that long guns are absent from the list. The relevant statute is listed below partially for your convenience:
790.06 License to carry concealed weapon or firearm.
(1) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is authorized to issue licenses to carry concealed weapons or concealed firearms to persons qualified as provided in this section. Each such license must bear a color photograph of the licensee. For the purposes of this section, concealed weapons or concealed firearms are defined as a handgun, electronic weapon or device, tear gas gun, knife, or billie, but the term does not include a machine gun as defined in s. 790.001(9). Such licenses shall be valid throughout the state for a period of 7 years from the date of issuance. Any person in compliance with the terms of such license may carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm notwithstanding the provisions of s. 790.01. The licensee must carry the license, together with valid identification, at all times in which the licensee is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or firearm and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer. Violations of the provisions of this subsection shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of $25, payable to the clerk of the court.
Florida is nearly as knife-friendly as it is gun-friendly, but unfortunately the state has some lingering issues with very dodgy, nebulous definitions that plague it to this very day.
Namely, “knives” are considered weapons with the notable exception of “common pocket knives”.
A person may not carry a “knife” concealed without a concealed weapons permit, but since a “common pocketknife” is not the same thing as Florida’s definition of “knife,” you can always carry a basic pocketknife with you.
This is where things get tricky: Florida does not define “common pocket knife” in the statutes. Instead, Florida lets the courts decide, and this has caused about as much trouble as you’d expect.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled previously that a folding knife with a 3 and 3/4 inch blade and an overall open length of eight and a half inches was a “common pocket knife” and therefore did not meet the same criteria as “knife” which is a “weapon” under state law.
Later cases codified that a folding knife with a blade of 4 inches or less is considered a “common pocket knife.”
Basically, smaller folding knives, regardless of any other accoutrement, are legal to carry in Florida without benefit of a concealed weapons permit so long as you don’t do anything illegal with them.
But if you want to carry a fixed-blade knife concealed, or a larger folding pocket knife, it is definitely a requirement to get a concealed weapons permit.
3. Self-Defense Sprays
Florida is totally friendly to common self-defense sprays, things like mace, tear gas and pepper spray. The legal category of these devices for common self-defense are referred to as “self-defense chemical sprays”.
These devices are defined in Florida state statute 790.001 as being compact, designed solely for the purposes of lawful self-defense and designed to be carried on or about the person.
Most importantly, self-defense chemical sprays contain not more than 2 ounces of chemical agent.
If your chemical spray meets all of these criteria, it is completely legal for self-defense under Florida law and can be carried openly or concealed without benefit of a concealed weapons permit so long as it is only used for self-defense.
Remember: even though they are non-lethal, these chemical sprays are not toys and you can still be charged and prosecuted for misusing, so never use one to settle an argument or because someone insulted you!
4. Stun Guns
Stun guns are completely legal under Florida state statutes. Stun guns are electrical contact weapons that inflict considerable pain when activated and when the assailant is jabbed with the electrodes.
Florida lumps stun guns under the category of “electrical weapon or device,” meaning any device that is designed to be used for defensive purposes, offensive purposes, the destruction of life or the infliction of injury.
But so long as the stun gun is designed to be non-lethal, you may carry one openly or concealed without the benefit of a Florida concealed weapons permit.
Tasers are another “electric weapon or device” under Florida law, but they’re further defined as dart-firing stun guns.
Tasers work similarly to actual stun guns, but they fire a pair of probes connected to the unit by trailing wires.
Once they connect with the target, the circuit is completed and a significant electrical current is discharged into the target, disrupting the target’s muscular control and typically dropping them.
This is another defensive weapon that, so long as it is designed to be non-lethal, may be carried openly or concealed without the benefit of a Florida concealed weapons permit.
It should be noted, though, that neither tasers or stun guns can be carried at any weapons restricted location in the state.
What is a billie? Although a “billie” is not defined in the Florida State statutes, the common definition is that of a billy club; a solid, inflexible truncheon or baton used for striking.
These weapons are legal under Florida law, and even legal for concealed carry so long as you have a concealed weapons permit.
However, not all types of club are legal, and generally you’ll want to go with a shorter model that is rigid (even if it is collapsible.) ASP collapsible batons are common and popular for the purpose, but shorter wooden or acetate plastic nightsticks or batons are also good to go.
Remember! You can only carry a billy club concealed in Florida if you have a concealed weapons permit! Doing otherwise is a violation of the law.
Are Brass Knuckles Legal for Self-Defense in Florida?
Brass knuckles are in something of a hazy area. Defined as “metallic knuckles” in Florida, it is legal to possess brass knuckles (or any implement or item that resembles the common definition of metallic knuckles) in Florida, though it is illegal to manufacture them or sell them.
They are also notably omitted from the list of permitted weapons for carry if you do have a concealed weapons permit.
Whether you have a concealed weapons permit or not, concealing brass, plastic or any other kind of knuckles (metallic or not) on or about your person is a violation of Florida law.
Considering the intended purpose of these weapons and how they are typically deployed, it’s difficult to see how they could be carried readily but legally for self-defense.
I don’t recommend you keep them at the ready for self-defense for this reason, though it certainly is not illegal for you to merely own them in Florida.
Also note that while the state of Florida preempts all local laws concerning firearms within the state’s borders, that is not the case for any other weapons, including knuckles of any type, and they are explicitly illegal in various counties and cities- even to merely possess them! Make sure you double-check local laws before you even buy a pair!
What is a Dirk? Are Dirks Legal in Florida?
A dirk is defined as a long, straight, stabbing knife, except any knife which meets the definition of a common pocket knife as detailed above.
Dirks are legal to possess in Florida, but they are in no way legal to carry concealed, being completely illegal if you lack a concealed weapons permit and still illegal if you have one because they are not on the list of permissible weapons per 790.06.
However, it should be legal to open carry a dirk or other large knife. Just make sure that at no point the knife is never concealed or covered in such a way to hide it from ordinary sight.
Are Slungshots Legal in Florida?
Slungshots are legal to possess in Florida, and also legal to carry openly or concealed if you have a concealed weapons permit.
A slungshot is defined in the Florida state statutes as any small mass of metal, stone, sand, or similar material fixed to a flexible handle, strap or similar component and used as a weapon.
Basically, it is a weighted head on a flexible handle. The classic blackjack or sap qualifies as a slungshot, as does the weighted “monkey fist” typically tied from rope with a metal, glass or stone sphere inside the round end.
Slungshots are not classified by name under the definition of concealed weapon in the Florida statutes, but under their own heading they are defined by their use as a “weapon”, and accordingly that generic classification could see them placed under the definition of a “concealed weapon” if they are concealed.
Accordingly, you’ll want avoid concealed carrying a slungshot in Florida, and keep in mind they are not permitted by name on the list of approved weapons, and so exist in a sort of gray area.
Also, again, remember that there is no statewide preemption for other weapons besides guns, so you must check your county and municipal laws before you carry a slungshot even if you have a permit.
Are Ballistic Knives Legal in Florida?
No. Ballistic knives are completely forbidden in Florida, even from possession and definitely from open or concealed carry under any circumstances.
These are definitely an exotic type of knife, consisting of a handle that propels the blade as a projectile by means of compressed air, spring action, explosives or other means.
Even possession of a ballistic knife is a serious crime, so you definitely can’t use one of these for self-defense!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.