Pepper Spray Laws – New York

New York is one of the most draconian states when it comes to self-defense laws for its citizens, and this reputation is certainly well-earned when you take a gander at the state’s statutes governing pepper spray ownership.

In the state of New York it is illegal to have pepper spray shipped in from out of state, from another county or even from another city. All pepper spray must be purchased from an authorized dealer within the state.

flag of New York state

You must be over the age of 18 to legally possess pepper spray in the state, all canisters must be pocket sized, and you must also prove that you are of legal age and also free of any felony conviction.

Additionally, only two pepper spray canisters may be purchased by one person at a time. If there is a silver lining at least New York makes no distinction between various types of chemicals be they man-made or natural when it comes to self-defense sprays.

So you at least have your choice of agent depending on your application and preferences.

Like all New York laws the statute covering pepper spray and the exemptions for use are quite lengthy and fairly intricate, so we have provided you with the most important ones below. It is still in your best interest to review the exact text of the state statute at the end of this article.

Fast Facts

  • You cannot ship defense sprays into or around New York; they must be purchased directly from an authorized dealer.
  • A purchaser may only buy two pepper sprays at one time.
  • Proof of age and a background free from felonies or misdemeanor assault charges is required.
  • Prohibited persons may not purchase or possess defense sprays in New York.
  • New York allows all defense spray formulations so long as it is not intended to cause permanent injury; CN, CS and OC are all okay.


New York per their custom doubles down on all regulations that might dissuade the citizens from taking responsibility for their own lives and their own safety.

Regarding pepper spray, it is illegal to ship pepper spray into New York or around New York, meaning that you cannot send it to someone through the mail, purchase it from a dealer elsewhere in the state or order it off the internet.

You must purchase your pepper spray in-person from an authorized dealer, and are limited to two pocket-sized canisters at a time.

To complete the purchase you need to prove that you are 18 years old or older (sorry minors) and also provide proof that your background is free of felonies and any misdemeanor assault charges, or sign a sworn affidavit that you have neither in your background.

The dealer will keep this on record and make it available for police inspection. Also note that any pepper spray you buy must have printed upon it a New York-specific paragraph detailing that the spray is intended for self-defense, that it is illegal to use it in any criminal manner, the contents are dangerous and so on.

Truly if it wasn’t for overwhelmingly powerful and invasive governments we would all probably just be standing around in the rain catching pneumonia. Lastly, as you probably expected, felons and other prohibited persons may not purchase or possess pepper spray in the state of New York.

If there is anything good you can say about New York’s pepper spray laws it is that they make no distinction and provide no restrictions on the type of agent that you may carry, so you can choose from CN or CS tear gas or traditional OC pepper spray.

You can even carry a blend of such chemicals if you prefer. The only restriction is that any self-defense spray carries and discharges a chemical or blend of chemicals that is not designed to produce permanent injury or incapacitation.


New York has some tiresome regulations regarding the acquisition and purchasing of pepper spray in the state, namely that you cannot have it shipped to you from anywhere else in the state or from out of state and are thus forced to purchase it directly from an authorized dealer at the point of sale.

You can only carry and possess pocket-sized canisters, bought two at a time, but mercifully you can use any kind of agent that you prefer, tear gas or OC.

Relevant State Statutes

265.20 Exemptions.

a. * Paragraph (h) of subdivision twenty-two of section 265.00 and
sections 265.01, 265.01-a, subdivision one of section 265.01-b,
265.01-c, 265.02, 265.03, 265.04, 265.05, 265.10, 265.11, 265.12,
265.13, 265.15, 265.36, 265.37 and 270.05 shall not apply to:

1. * Possession of any of the weapons, instruments, appliances or
substances specified in sections 265.01, 265.01-c, 265.02, 265.03,
265.04, 265.05 and 270.05 by the following:

(a) Persons in the military service of the state of New York when duly
authorized by regulations issued by the adjutant general to possess the

(b) Police officers as defined in subdivision thirty-four of section
1.20 of the criminal procedure law.

(c) Peace officers as defined by section 2.10 of the criminal
procedure law.

(d) Persons in the military or other service of the United States, in
pursuit of official duty or when duly authorized by federal law,
regulation or order to possess the same.


14. Possession in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph of
a self-defense spray device as defined herein for the protection of a
person or property and use of such self-defense spray device under
circumstances which would justify the use of physical force pursuant to
article thirty-five of this chapter.

(a) As used in this section “self-defense spray device” shall mean a
pocket sized spray device which contains and releases a chemical or
organic substance which is intended to produce temporary physical
discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed
in the air or any like device containing tear gas, pepper or similar
disabling agent.

(b) The exemption under this paragraph shall not apply to a person

(i) is less than eighteen years of age; or (ii) has been previously convicted in this state of a felony or any assault; or

(iii) has been convicted of a crime outside the state of New York
which if committed in New York would constitute a felony or any assault

(c) The department of health, with the cooperation of the division of
criminal justice services and the superintendent of state police, shall
develop standards and promulgate regulations regarding the type of
self-defense spray device which may lawfully be purchased, possessed and
used pursuant to this paragraph. The regulations shall include a
requirement that every self-defense spray device which may be lawfully
purchased, possessed or used pursuant to this paragraph have a label
which states: “WARNING: The use of this substance or device for any
purpose other than self-defense is a criminal offense under the law. The
contents are dangerous – use with care. This device shall not be sold by
anyone other than a licensed or authorized dealer. Possession of this
device by any person under the age of eighteen or by anyone who has been
convicted of a felony or assault is illegal. Violators may be prosecuted
under the law.”

15. Possession and sale of a self-defense spray device as defined in
paragraph fourteen of this subdivision by a dealer in firearms licensed
pursuant to section 400.00 of this chapter, a pharmacist licensed
pursuant to article one hundred thirty-seven of the education law or by
such other vendor as may be authorized and approved by the
superintendent of state police.

(a) Every self-defense spray device shall be accompanied by an insert
or inserts which include directions for use, first aid information,
safety and storage information and which shall also contain a toll free
telephone number for the purpose of allowing any purchaser to call and
receive additional information regarding the availability of local
courses in self-defense training and safety in the use of a self-defense
spray device.

(b) Before delivering a self-defense spray device to any person, the
licensed or authorized dealer shall require proof of age and a sworn
statement on a form approved by the superintendent of state police that
such person has not been convicted of a felony or any crime involving an
assault. Such forms shall be forwarded to the division of state police
at such intervals as directed by the superintendent of state police.
Absent any such direction the forms shall be maintained on the premises
of the vendor and shall be open at all reasonable hours for inspection
by any peace officer or police officer, acting pursuant to his or her
special duties. No more than two self-defense spray devices may be sold
at any one time to a single purchaser.

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