Pepper Spray Laws – Virginia

It is a sad state of affairs in Virginia. What was once a solid and dependable state concerning the Second Amendment and self-defense in general has, in the past decade, been infiltrated and laid low by duplicitous leftist sentiment that has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of anti-gun laws on the books.

Fortunately, such hand-wringing nannyism has not yet affected the possession and purchase of pepper sprays and other defensive sprays. In this regard, Virginia is still broadly comparable to other permissive States.

flag of Virginia

Aside from an age restriction and the prohibition of anyone who has a felony record or other revocation of their civil rights from possessing it there are few restrictions on pepper sprays in Virginia. Check out all the details and the pertinent State statutes below.

Fast Facts

  • A person must be 18 years old or older to possess any defensive spray in the state of Virginia.
  • Felons, as well as any other people who have had their civil rights regarding weapons of ownership revoked, may not possess pepper or any other defensive spray in the state.
  • There is no restriction on capacity or quantity regarding pepper spray in Virginia.
  • Both natural and artificial formulations are allowed for defensive sprays, as are blends of various ingredients. OC, CN and CS are all permitted.

Overview

The right to possess and carry various guns in the state of Virginia might be sharply curtailed, but count the small mercies that at least pepper spray isn’t- at least not yet!

Purchase and possession is generally straightforward and unfettered in Virginia, as one must only have a background free of felonies and be at least 18 years old or older to possess and carry defensive spray.

Regarding the formulation of such sprays all standard sprays are allowed, such as OC pepper sprays and CN or CS tear gases. Blends are also okay, so if you want an all-in-one formula you can go for it.

Additionally you may carry any quantity of defensive spray you desire so long as it is only carried for self-defense purposes.

It is worth noting that the illegal use or release of “tear gas, phosgene or any other gas” of any kind in any public or private place that results in bodily injury to any such person affected by said gas is a class 3 felony, or a class 6 felony if done unlawfully, but not maliciously.

You can afford no missteps or accidents with defensive spray in Virginia, and don’t even dream of using it for any sort of prank!

Conclusion

Pepper sprays and other self-defense sprays are broadly unrestricted in Virginia, with the only prohibition on purchase or ownership being that the possessor must be at least 18 years old or older, and have a background free of felonies. All defensive spray formulations are legal so long as they are carried strictly for self-defense.

Understand that any unlawful discharge, whether or not malicious, of pepper spray in a public or private place that results in bodily injury will entail felony charges, so make sure you keep a lid on it until you are sure you need it!

Relevant State Statutes

18.2-308. Carrying concealed weapons; exceptions; penalty

A. If any person carries about his person, hidden from common observation, (i ) any pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material; (ii) any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack; (iii) any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain; (iv) any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart; or (v) any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second violation of this section or a conviction under this section subsequent to any conviction under any substantially similar ordinance of any county, city, or town shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony, and a third or subsequent such violation shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. For the purpose of this section, a weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon’s true nature. It shall be an affirmative defense to a violation of clause (i) regarding a handgun, that a person had been issued, at the time of the offense, a valid concealed handgun permit.

B. This section shall not apply to any person while in his own place of abode or the curtilage thereof.

C. Except as provided in subsection A of § 18.2-308.012, this section shall not apply to:

  1. Any person while in his own place of business;
  2. Any law-enforcement officer, or retired law-enforcement officer pursuant to § 18.2-308.016, wherever such law-enforcement officer may travel in the Commonwealth;
  3. Any person who is at, or going to or from, an established shooting range, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
  4. Any regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization who is at, or going to or from, a bona fide weapons exhibition, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
  5. Any person carrying such weapons between his place of abode and a place of purchase or repair, provided the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
  6. Any person actually engaged in lawful hunting, as authorized by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, under inclement weather conditions necessitating temporary protection of his firearm from those conditions, provided that possession of a handgun while engaged in lawful hunting shall not be construed as hunting with a handgun if the person hunting is carrying a valid concealed handgun permit;
  7. Any attorney for the Commonwealth or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, wherever such attorney may travel in the Commonwealth;
  8. Any person who may lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel;
  9. Any enrolled participant of a firearms training course who is at, or going to or from, a training location, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported; and
  10. Any judge or justice of the Commonwealth, wherever such judge or justice may travel in the Commonwealth.

D. This section shall also not apply to any of the following individuals while in the discharge of their official duties, or while in transit to or from such duties:

  1. Carriers of the United States mail;
  2. Officers or guards of any state correctional institution;
  3. Conservators of the peace, except that a judge or justice of the Commonwealth, an attorney for the Commonwealth, or an assistant attorney for the Commonwealth may carry a concealed handgun pursuant to subdivisions C 7 and 10. However, the following conservators of the peace shall not be permitted to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a permit as provided in this article: (i) notaries public; (ii) registrars; (iii) drivers, operators, or other persons in charge of any motor vehicle carrier of passengers for hire; or (iv) commissioners in chancery;
  4. Noncustodial employees of the Department of Corrections designated to carry weapons by the Director of the Department of Corrections pursuant to § 53.1-29; and
  5. Harbormaster of the City of Hopewell.

18.2-308.1. Possession of firearm, stun weapon, or other weapon on school property prohibited; penalty

A. If any person knowingly possesses any (i) stun weapon as defined in this section; (ii) knife, except a pocket knife having a folding metal blade of less than three inches; or (iii) weapon, including a weapon of like kind, designated in subsection A of § 18.2-308, other than a firearm; upon (a) the property of any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds; (b) that portion of any property open to the public and then exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; or (c) any school bus owned or operated by any such school, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. If any person knowingly possesses any firearm designed or intended to expel a projectile by action of an explosion of a combustible material while such person is upon (i) any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds; (ii) that portion of any property open to the public and then exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; or (iii) any school bus owned or operated by any such school, he is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

C. If any person knowingly possesses any firearm designed or intended to expel a projectile by action of an explosion of a combustible material within a public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school building and intends to use, or attempts to use, such firearm, or displays such weapon in a threatening manner, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony and sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years to be served consecutively with any other sentence.

The exemptions set out in §§ 18.2-308 and 18.2-308.016 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the provisions of this section. The provisions of this section shall not apply to (i) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of the school’s curriculum or activities; (ii) a person possessing a knife customarily used for food preparation or service and using it for such purpose; (iii) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises; (iv) any law-enforcement officer, or retired law-enforcement officer qualified pursuant to subsection C of § 18.2-308.016; (v) any person who possesses a knife or blade which he uses customarily in his trade; (vi) a person who possesses an unloaded firearm that is in a closed container, or a knife having a metal blade, in or upon a motor vehicle, or an unloaded shotgun or rifle in a firearms rack in or upon a motor vehicle; (vii) a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school; (viii) a school security officer authorized to carry a firearm pursuant to § 22.1-280.2:1; or (ix) an armed security officer, licensed pursuant to Article 4 (§ 9.1-138 et seq.) of Chapter 1 of Title 9.1, hired by a private or religious school for the protection of students and employees as authorized by such school. For the purposes of this paragraph, “weapon” includes a knife having a metal blade of three inches or longer and “closed container” includes a locked vehicle trunk.

As used in this section:

“Stun weapon” means any device that emits a momentary or pulsed output, which is electrical, audible, optical or electromagnetic in nature and which is designed to temporarily incapacitate a person.


18.2-312. Illegal use of tear gas, phosgene and other gases

If any person maliciously release or cause or procure to be released in any private home, place of business or place of public gathering any tear gas, mustard gas, phosgene gas or other noxious or nauseating gases or mixtures of chemicals designed to, and capable of, producing vile or injurious or nauseating odors or gases, and bodily injury results to any person from such gas or odor, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 3 felony.

If such act be done unlawfully, but not maliciously, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Nothing herein contained shall prevent the use of tear gas or other gases by police officers or other peace officers in the proper performance of their duties, or by any person or persons in the protection of person, life or property.

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