What Self-Defense Weapons Are Legal In New York?

Self-defense weapons are part and parcel of living a lifestyle of readiness and self-sufficiency. Everyone has their preferences, and no matter what your lifestyle is, there’s bound to be a tool that is a good fit for you.

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However, your selection will be regulated by the laws of the state, and municipality, where you live. Some states are quite friendly towards the idea, others far less permissive. It all depends.

What about New York? What self-defense weapons are legal in New York?

You can use guns, knives, pepper spray and tasers or stun guns for self-defense in New York State, but all of them are harshly regulated and many local laws are even more restrictive than the state laws.

Let’s face the facts: aside from protected classes of people and agents of the state, New York would rather you get hurt or killed than defend yourself without their tacit approval.

Their laws concerning weapons and self-defense reflect this tyrannical attitude.

The closer you are to a major population center in the state, the worse it is, but the laws throughout the state are terrible compared to the rest of the US. I will tell you more below…

Are Guns Legal in New York?

Guns are legal in New York, strictly speaking, but practically they are regulated almost to oblivion.

You can own rifles, shotguns and handguns in the state but getting a general-purpose carry permit to carry a handgun with you anywhere you want to go is extremely difficult.

In any case you need a permit to buy rifles and handguns alike, and you’ll need a handgun permit to merely possess a handgun anywhere in the state.

As expected, New York has also instituted extraordinarily odious restrictions on magazine capacity and the features of any given firearm that you’re allowed to own.

To make matters even worse, only New York City concealed carry permits are valid in the Big Apple. You can’t have a state handgun permit for carry and carry in New York City.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that no firearm that New York deems an assault weapon may be purchased under any circumstances.

Notably, it is very difficult to get a concealed weapons permit in counties where major population centers are.

Even though it has nominally improved in recent years, as compared to being nearly impossible unless you knew somebody who knew somebody, it is still highly odious.

At best, you might be able to get a permit to have your handgun on you in your home or at your place of business, but nowhere in between.

Also, open carry is a non-factor in New York State, and absolutely out of the question bordering on suicidal in the major population centers.

It should be noted that, while the laws on open carry in New York State are vague to the point of being basically non-existent, the law also mandates that if you have a pistol permit for unrestricted carry you must conceal it, and ergo ongoing interpretation has taken us to mean that open carry is illegal.

And don’t even think about keeping a gun in your car: except in very particular scenarios while hunting you cannot keep a loaded gun in your vehicle.

All of these statutes and more, which are extremely lengthy and hard to decipher, can be found in sections 265.20, 265.01, 265.20, 400.00, and 265.35.

There is way, way too many of them to even begin to transcribe here.

And again, for emphasis, you must check local county and city laws, because they tend to be even more restrictive than the state level laws!

NYC Legal Pocket Knife!

Are Knives Legal in New York?

Practically speaking, no. Strictly speaking, legally, knives are barely legal in NY, and you had better not carry any knife in New York City.

If anything, the knife laws in New York are even worse than the gun laws! New York knife laws and their entirety are completely arbitrary and deliberately obfuscating.

What’s worse, judicial opinion is basically the first and last word into what constitutes a “dangerous knife,” an important legal concept for determining just what is a legal knife in the state.

To be perfectly clear: no matter what kind of knife you’re carrying, there are no reliable, clear definitions of what is and is not a dangerous knife.

If you were to get taken to court for any reason concerning the carrying of your knife, the judge’s opinion is the only thing that matters when it comes to the legality of the knife.

You don’t need to have been doing anything criminal with your knife, you don’t need to have been threatening someone with it, and you don’t need to have been carrying the knife in the commission of some other crime…

The presence of the knife alone can be construed as crime enough based on the interpretation of a police officer and then the judge’s opinion of the knife itself.

Also, New York has a long and “distinguished” history of cracking down on any knife that’s considered a switchblade, and because of terrible legal precedents set concerning assisted opening knives, you definitely can’t carry one of those.

Furthermore, there are blanket bans on the carry of any knife or other dangerous instruments in or on any facility falling under the purview of the New York City Transit authority, and that includes on the vehicles that they operate.

Accordingly, this is effectively a blanket ban on knives being carried on mass transit when moving in or around New York City and its surrounds.

There is once again a truly immense body of statutes that are applicable to knives and the carry thereof, but one that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the most is found in section 265.01 which defines, if you can call it that, what a dangerous knife is and the penalties for carrying one.

Mind you, my cautionary statements are not hyperbole: look up the well-known case referred to as the Matter of Jamie D. (1983) to see what kind of slippery slope we are all trying to negotiate when it comes to knives in New York.

Read or listen to a good summary of the case and you’ll see that the circumstances surrounding the possession of what is defined as a “common utilitarian knife” had nothing to do with whatsoever the knife being deemed a “dangerous knife”.

Again, this is aside from any criminal use of the knife!

I cannot stress this enough: so-called officials infesting the New York City criminal justice system have time and time again to this very day maliciously prosecuted innocent people simply for the fact they were carrying a common everyday pocket knife!

You might be okay carrying the smallest and simplest type of knife out in the rural parts of New York State, but you’d be crazy to do so in any suburban or urban area, and even crazier to depend on it for self-defense.

265.01 Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken, or “Kung Fu star”;

(2) He or she possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, machete, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, undetectable knife or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or


Is Pepper Spray Legal in New York?

Yes. Pepper spray is legal in New York, though it’s still far more restrictive than other states.

That said, it really is just about your only option in places like New York City.

Anyone that is aged 18 or older can purchase and carry pepper spray for self-defense, but it must be purchased in the state through an approved seller.

You cannot have pepper spray shipped into the state of New York by any means, including by online retailers.

There are also several restrictions concerning the size and efficacy of the chemical age in itself.

Good Day New York Features SABRE - Is Pepper Spray Legal in New York?

Any canister that is legal cannot contain more than three-quarters of an ounce of spray, and the strength of that spray, which must be actual pepper spray, cannot exceed 0.7% major capsaicinoid content.

Basically, this forces you into using sprays that are weaker than the typically accepted legal, safe limit found in other states.

Also, pepper spray may only be sold in aerosol or gel forms, and is only available through either firearm dealers or licensed pharmacists, so you can’t buy the stuff just anywhere like you would in the rest of the United States.

Assuming you do all of this, it is legal to possess and carry pepper spray almost everywhere except areas where it is explicitly restricted.

But, keep in mind that any misuse of pepper spray is still a crime, and you’ll still be judged harshly if you do use it in self-defense; that’s because you’re in New York, not America, silly!

Stun guns are legal, but there are things you should know before buying one

Are Stun Guns Legal in New York?

Yes, but only very recently. Stun guns and other electric self-defense devices were illegal in New York until 2019.

They are only legal now, and even that is tenuous, because a federal court struck down New York’s laws that made civilian possession illegal.

However, the federal court did not stop New York State from passing other restrictions on non-lethal electric weapons and other electric self-defense devices.

But now, stun guns are legal throughout the state, though not necessarily in New York City and other localities, for a time.

Note that this issue is evolving quickly and other laws are all but certain to be forthcoming, so stay on top of them if you want to consider one of these weapons for self-defense.

Are Tasers Legal in New York?

Yes. Tasers, also referred to commonly as dart-firing stun guns, are likewise legal in New York since 2019.

And once again, keep an eye on the laws because there will likely be more restrictions coming down the pipe in New York.

Are Batons Legal in New York?

Collapsible batons are legal to own in New York, but only in your home. They aren’t legal to carry openly or concealed anywhere in public. See 265.01.

Are Brass Knuckles Legal in New York?

No! Brass knuckles are expressly illegal in New York. For the record, knuckle dusters made out of any material, not just brass or other metals, are illegal here. Once again, refer to 265.01.

Self Defense Weapons That Are Legal To Carry in NYC

What Self-Defense Weapons Are Legal in New York City?

New York City is the litigious crown jewel when it comes to the restriction of weapons and citizens’ rights to self-defense in the state of New York.

Practically speaking, the only thing your average citizen will be able to carry in New York is pepper spray or potentially a stun gun or taser.

Knives are absolutely a no-go since you’ll be gambling with your life if you’re caught carrying one. Pistols are theoretically allowable assuming you can obtain the nearly unattainable New York City concealed carry permit.

Even then, you’ll be forced to put up with serious restrictions regarding model, features and capacity, and heaven help you if you actually had to use the thing to shoot some crazy lunatic that attacked you on the street.

Caution: There is No Statewide Preemption in New York State!

One final reminder: concerning all of the weapons on this list there is no statewide preemption in New York. That means that local county and municipal laws can and generally will be significantly more restrictive than the state laws.

As mentioned, New York City is the poster child for this but also Buffalo and Albany are right behind it.

Do not let your guard down, and make sure you thoroughly research all relevant laws where you live, work, or travel before you commit to carrying any self-defense implement of any kind in New York State!

1 thought on “What Self-Defense Weapons Are Legal In New York?”


    knives under 4″ blades are supposed to be legal in NY. a small pocket knife is ok to carry on long island. and governor Cuomo did make gravity knives legal as well. NYC is well, a totally different thing. they seem to make up their own laws even if the state makes something legal. and I think we should fight to make expandable batons legal throughout the state. Nunckucks are now legal in NYS as well. seems stupid that expandable batons are not.

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