Pepper Spray Laws – North Carolina

North Carolina is a state with generally amenable laws for pepper and other defensive sprays. It does have a fairly restrictive capacity limitation, but other than that you can carry any kind of spray you want be it made from natural or artificial ingredients.

Additionally, only people who are not convicted felons may possess pepper spray but aside from this regulation pepper spray is readily bought and possessed in the state without much trouble.

Keep reading to get the scoop on North Carolina’s pepper spray laws.

flag of North Carolina

Fast Facts

  • North Carolina permits citizens to carry any type of pepper spray they want. Aerosol OC and CN or CS tear gas is permitted, as are blends.
  • North Carolina does notably have a restriction on capacity for civilian legal pepper spray units. Capacity cannot exceed 150 cc’s.
  • Convicted felons cannot legally be in possession of pepper spray in the state.

Overview

North Carolina would be a great state all the way around when it comes to pepper spray and other defense spray ownership if it wasn’t for that pesky capacity restriction.

Civilians may only possess containers that hold a maximum of 150 cc’s worth of agent. That is not an awful lot, and that means larger canisters designed for dealing with multiple attackers, longer distances or crowd control are off the table.

The good news is that you can own any sort of formulation you want in the state. Classic OC is allowed as are all tear gas formulas, including CN, CS and legit Mace.

If you want to you can get really crazy and purchase units that are a combination or blend of any or all of these existing formulations. At least you’ll be able to pick the chemical agent that is right for your needs in the state of North Carolina.

Additionally, there are no major restrictions on the selling or importation of pepper spray into the state so you’ll be able to pick it up virtually anywhere and even have it sent direct mail order to your house off the internet if you want.

Notably, felons and people convicted of certain violent misdemeanors cannot own or possess pepper spray in the state of North Carolina.

This means if you have had any run-ins with the law in your background it would be in your best interest to verify ahead of time that you are not prohibited from possessing pepper spray in the state.

Illegal possession of pepper spray is a significant violation of state law and so if you do have a checkered past you’ll need to get your civil rights for weapons ownership restored prior to purchasing and carrying.

Conclusion

North Carolina is a fairly permissive state when it comes to pepper spray and defensive spray use and possession by civilians.

Capacity is restricted to no more than 150 cc’s, which is a bit of a bummer if you want to be prepared for crowd control, but you are allowed to have any formulation you want, be it pepper spray or tear gas. It is also worth noting that felons may not possess pepper spray in North Carolina unless they have had their civil rights restored.

Relevant State Statutes

14-401.6. Unlawful to possess, etc., tear gas except for certain purposes.

(a) It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association to possess, use, store, sell, or transport within the State of North Carolina, any form of that type of gas generally known as “tear gas,” or any container or device for holding or releasing that gas; except this section does not apply to the possession, use, storage, sale or transportation of that gas or any container or device for holding or releasing that gas:

(1) By officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States or this State while in the discharge of their official duties and acting under orders requiring them to carry arms or weapons;

(2) By or for any governmental agency for official use of the agency;

(3) By or for county, municipal or State law-enforcement officers in the discharge of their official duties;

(4) By or for security guards registered under Chapter 74C of the General Statutes, company police officers commissioned under Chapter 74E of the General Statutes, or campus police officers commissioned under Chapter 74G of the General Statutes provided they are on duty and have received training according to standards prescribed by the State Bureau of Investigation;

(5) For bona fide scientific, educational, or industrial purposes;

(6) In safes, vaults, and depositories, as a means or protection against robbery;

(7) For use in the home for protection and elsewhere by individuals, who have not been convicted of a felony, for self-defense purposes only, as long as the capacity of any:

a. Tear gas device or container does not exceed 150 cubic centimeters,

b. Tear gas cartridge or shell does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters, and

c. Tear gas device or container does not have the capability of discharging any cartridge, shell, or container larger than 50 cubic centimeters.

(b) Violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(c) Tear gas for the purpose of this section shall mean any solid, liquid or gaseous substance or combinations thereof which will, upon dispersion in the atmosphere, cause tears in the eyes, burning of the skin, coughing, difficulty in breathing or any one or more of these reactions and which will not cause permanent damage to the human body, and the substance and container or device is designed, manufactured, and intended to be used as tear gas.

14-32.4. Assault inflicting serious bodily injury; strangulation; penalties.

(a) Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who assaults another person and inflicts serious bodily injury is guilty of a Class F felony. “Serious bodily injury” is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization.

(b) Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who assaults another person and inflicts physical injury by strangulation is guilty of a Class H felony.

14-33. Misdemeanor assaults, batteries, and affrays, simple and aggravated; punishments.

(a) Any person who commits a simple assault or a simple assault and battery or participates in a simple affray is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(b) Unless his conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, assault and battery, or affray is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if, in the course of the assault, assault and battery, or affray, he:

(1) through (3) Repealed by Session Laws 1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(b);

(4) through (7) Repealed by Session Laws 1991, c. 525, s. 1;

(8) Repealed by Session Laws 1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(b);

(9) Commits an assault and battery against a sports official when the sports official is discharging or attempting to discharge official duties at a sports event, or immediately after the sports event at which the sports official discharged official duties. A “sports official” is a person at a sports event who enforces the rules of the event, such as an umpire or referee, or a person who supervises the participants, such as a coach. A “sports event” includes any interscholastic or intramural athletic activity in a primary, middle, junior high, or high school, college, or university, any organized athletic activity sponsored by a community, business, or nonprofit organization, any athletic activity that is a professional or semiprofessional event, and any other organized athletic activity in the State.

(c) Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, assault and battery, or affray is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor if, in the course of the assault, assault and battery, or affray, he or she:

(1) Inflicts serious injury upon another person or uses a deadly weapon;

(2) Assaults a female, he being a male person at least 18 years of age;

(3) Assaults a child under the age of 12 years;

(4) Assaults an officer or employee of the State or any political subdivision of the State, when the officer or employee is discharging or attempting to discharge his official duties;

(5) Repealed by Session Laws 1999-105, s. 1, effective December 1, 1999; or

(6) Assaults a school employee or school volunteer when the employee or volunteer is discharging or attempting to discharge his or her duties as an employee or volunteer, or assaults a school employee or school volunteer as a result of the discharge or attempt to discharge that individual’s duties as a school employee or school volunteer. For purposes of this subdivision, the following definitions shall apply:

a. “Duties” means:

1. All activities on school property;

2. All activities, wherever occurring, during a school authorized event or the accompanying of students to or from that event; and

3. All activities relating to the operation of school transportation.

b. “Employee” or “volunteer” means:

1. An employee of a local board of education; or a charter school authorized under G.S. 115C-218.5, or a nonpublic school which has filed intent to operate under Part 1 or Part 2 of Article 39 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes;

2. An independent contractor or an employee of an independent contractor of a local board of education, charter school authorized under G.S. 115C-218.5, or a nonpublic school which has filed intent to operate under Part 1 or Part 2 of Article 39 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, if the independent contractor carries out duties customarily performed by employees of the school; and

3. An adult who volunteers his or her services or presence at any school activity and is under the supervision of an individual listed in sub-sub-subdivision 1. or 2. of this sub-subdivision.

(7) Assaults a public transit operator, including a public employee or a private contractor employed as a public transit operator, when the operator is discharging or attempting to discharge his or her duties.

(8) Assaults a company police officer certified pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 74E of the General Statutes or a campus police officer certified pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 74G, Article 1 of Chapter 17C, or Chapter 116 of the General Statutes in the performance of that person’s duties.

14-33.1. Evidence of former threats upon plea of self-defense.

In any case of assault, assault and battery, or affray in which the plea of the defendant is self-defense, evidence of former threats against the defendant by the person alleged to have been assaulted by him, if such threats shall have been communicated to the defendant before the altercation, shall be competent as bearing upon the reasonableness of the claim of apprehension by the defendant of bodily harm, and also as bearing upon the amount of force which reasonably appeared necessary to the defendant, under the circumstances, to repel his assailant.

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