Pepper Spray Laws – Minnesota

Minnesota is a state with generally inclusive and permissive laws governing pepper spray, tear gas and other compositions of self-defense spray, with only a few restrictions on ownership concerning age and prior criminal history.

Minnesota law also surprisingly makes it quite clear that self-defense sprays can be used under reasonable circumstances in defense of the person or property, though as expected you cannot use them outside of these specific conditions.

Though the section covering the details regarding ownership and carry of self-defense sprays is somewhat lengthy we are here to guide you by providing the most relevant details and specifics. We will include the precise text of the state statute at the end of this article so that you can study it for yourself.

flag of Minnesota

Fast‌ ‌Facts‌

  • Minnesota allows a wide variety of defense sprays to be carried and used, including OC pepper spray and CN or CS tear gas.
  • Anyone prohibited from owning a handgun cannot own or carry a defense spray in the state of Minnesota.
  • Anyone aged 16 or older may possess and carry a defense spray; anyone under the age of 16 may carry a defense spray so long as they have in their possession the explicit written permission of their parent or guardian.

Overview‌ ‌

Minnesota’s laws are surprisingly clear when it comes to defense sprays like pepper spray and tear gas, though they lump all of them into the general category of “authorized tear gas compound”.

The allowable compounds are:

  • chloroacetophenone,
  • alpha chloroacetophenone,
  • phenylchloromethylketone,
  • orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile,
  • and oleoresin capsicum,

… included among these chemicals common pepper spray, as well as two common varieties of tear gas. Note that no other compounds or mixtures of compounds are allowable under Minnesota law.

Though there is no restriction on the size of canister one may legally carry in Minnesota, there is an age restriction. Only people aged 16 years old and older may purchase a self-defense spray and carry it on or about their person with no other restrictions.

Anyone under the age of 16 may still possess and carry a self-defense spray, but they must also have the written permission of their parent or guardian; they cannot buy it themselves.

Additionally, no one who is prohibited from possessing a pistol in the state for any reason may possess or utilize any self-defense spray.

This will obviously include felons of every stripe, but also anyone who received a pardon for prior crimes that did not see restored their civil rights would similarly be restricted from owning a handgun and thus restricted from owning or using a defensive spray. You can read subdivision 3 below in the relevant statute for more details.

Subdivision two of the statutes below explicitly allow any authorized person to carry and use one of the authorized compounds listed above in the exercise of force for the purposes of self-defense or defense of property, so long as that force is reasonable under the circumstances.

The same subdivision also specifies that any such product carried and used for the purpose must be propelled from an aerosol container and labeled according to its contents and danger, and must also clearly list an expiration date showing the product’s anticipated life.

Conclusion‌

Minnesota is a permissive state when it comes to the carry and use of self-defense sprays, and the relevant state statute, though lengthy, is easy to understand, and codifies citizens’ rights to employ these sprays in self-defense.

So long as you are not prohibited from owning a handgun or are carrying a canister while under age 16, you can carry nearly any type and size of spray you want in the state.

Relevant‌ ‌State‌ ‌Statutes‌

624.731 TEAR GAS AND TEAR GAS COMPOUNDS; ELECTRONIC INCAPACITATION DEVICES.

§Subdivision 1.Definitions.

For the purposes of this section:

(1) “authorized tear gas compound” means a lachrymator or any substance composed of a mixture of a lachrymator including chloroacetophenone, alpha-chloroacetophenone; phenylchloromethylketone, orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile or oleoresin capsicum, commonly known as tear gas; and

(2) “electronic incapacitation device” means a portable device which is designed or intended by the manufacturer to be used, offensively or defensively, to temporarily immobilize or incapacitate persons by means of electric pulse or current, including devices operating by means of carbon dioxide propellant. “Electronic incapacitation device” does not include cattle prods, electric fences, or other electric devices when used in agricultural, animal husbandry, or food production activities.

Subd. 2.Authorized possession; use.

(a) A person may possess and use an authorized tear gas compound in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person’s property only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use and the dangers involved in its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life.

(b) A person may possess and use an electronic incapacitation device in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person’s property only if the electronic incapacitation device is labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use and the dangers involved in its use.

Subd. 3.Prohibited possession; use.

(a) No person under the age of 16 may possess or use an authorized tear gas compound except by written permission of a parent or guardian, and no person under the age of 18 may possess or use an electronic incapacitation device.

(b) No person prohibited from possessing a pistol pursuant to section 624.713, subdivision 1, clause (2), may possess or use an authorized tear gas compound or an electronic incapacitation device.

(c) No person prohibited from possessing a pistol pursuant to section 624.713, subdivision 1, clauses (3) to (5), may possess or use an authorized tear gas compound or an electronic incapacitation device, except that the certificate or other proof required for possession of a handgun shall not apply.

(d) No person shall possess or use tear gas or a tear gas compound other than an authorized tear gas compound.

Subd. 4.Prohibited use.

(a) No person shall knowingly, or with reason to know, use tear gas, a tear gas compound, an authorized tear gas compound, or an electronic incapacitation device on or against a peace officer who is in the performance of duties.

(b) No person shall use tear gas, a tear gas compound, an authorized tear gas compound, or an electronic incapacitation device except as authorized in subdivision 2 or 6.

(c) Tear gas, a tear gas compound, or an electronic incapacitation device shall legally constitute a weapon when it is used in the commission of a crime.

(d) No person shall use tear gas or a tear gas compound in an immobilizing concentration against another person, except as otherwise permitted by subdivision 2.

Subd. 5.Prohibited sale.

Except as permitted by subdivision 6, no person shall knowingly furnish or sell tear gas or a tear gas compound to another person. No person shall knowingly furnish or sell an authorized tear gas compound or an electronic incapacitation device to a person prohibited from possessing it by subdivision 3. No person shall knowingly furnish or sell an authorized tear gas compound or an electronic incapacitation device which fails to meet the requirements of subdivision 2. No tear gas, tear gas compound, authorized tear gas compound, or electronic incapacitation device shall be sold or furnished on premises where 3.2 percent malt liquor as defined in section 340A.101, subdivision 19, is sold on an on-sale basis or where intoxicating liquor as defined in section 340A.101, subdivision 13, is sold on an on-sale or off-sale basis. No person shall sell tear gas, a tear gas compound, authorized tear gas compound, or electronic incapacitation device in violation of local licensing requirements.

Subd. 6.Exceptions.

Nothing in this section shall prohibit the possession or use of by, or the sale or furnishing of, tear gas, a tear gas compound, an authorized tear gas compound, or electronic incapacitation device to, a law enforcement agency, peace officer, the National Guard or reserves, or a member of the National Guard or reserves for use in their official duties, except that counties and municipalities may impose licensing requirements on sellers pursuant to subdivision 9.

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