Pepper spray is a useful addition to anyone’s self-defense armory, and a highly convenient, less-lethal tool that is effective, safe and requires a little training to effectively employ.
Every state in the Union allows its citizens to carry pepper spray in one form or another, but it is still classified as a weapon, which means you’ll have to become intimately acquainted with your home state’s laws if you are going to carry pepper spray.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin is a state with some of the more restrictive laws on the books regarding the carrier pepper spray, including its composition, size and even the format of the container.
While this kind of nanny state behavior is never okay, it is surmountable, and so long as you pay a little bit of attention you should not run afoul of the law in Wisconsin.
In the rest of this article we will be providing you with the most important things you need to know as well as the exact text of the state statutes so you can study up for yourself.
- Wisconsin only allows legitimate pepper spray to be carried by civilians; OC sprays only, not CN or CS tear gas, or any OC plus tear gas blends.
- The legal amount of pepper spray a civilian may carry on or about their person for self-defense is 2 oz. or less.
- No pepper spray container may be disguised as something other than what it is; your pepper spray container cannot look like a lipstick tube, pen, or anything else. This might be problematic if considering a keychain-carried “kubotan” type dispenser or even a modern “pistol” format dispenser.
- Felons may not own any pepper spray without an official pardon.
Wisconsin laws pertaining to pepper spray are a little bit stricter than most other states. Especially noteworthy is that pepper spray must be exactly what it says on the tin in this case: just pepper!
Proper pepper spray is better labeled O.C. spray, standing for oleoresin capsicum, comprised of the active ingredients that make hot peppers, well, hot.
It’s illegal for civilians to possess “defense sprays” that are any other kind of chemical compound, including mace, tear gas, or any combination thereof, including pepper spray-tear gas blends.
Also, Wisconsin regulates the concentration of OC sprays for civilian use to 10% OC content or less.
Also noteworthy is that Wisconsin restricts civilian-specific carry of pepper spray to units containing 2 oz. or less of the solution. You won’t be able to legally own and employ larger containers such as police format “riot” cans or even bear spray for defense against two-legged assailants in the state of Wisconsin.
Anyone who is 18 years or older can purchase and own pepper spray in the state, though people under the age of 18 may still be given pepper spray by their parents or adult guardian.
One law that might get people into trouble with regards to certain popular self-defense spray devices is Wisconsin’s prohibition on civilian carry of pepper spray devices that are, quote, “disguised”.
Specifically any kind of pepper spray unit that looks like something else, be it a can of hairspray, a pen, a lipstick or anything else is expressly forbidden.
While devices of this nature are uncommon in our day this does raise eyebrows regarding the legality of popular pepper spray devices such as ASPs Key Defender series, which take the form of a small kubotan-like rod that is carried on the keychain.
Certain pepper spray devices, like the Kimber Pepper Blaster, are shaped like pistols or some other innocuous devices that is decidedly not shaped like a pepper spray canister that one typically expects.
The legality of these devices is in question in the state of Wisconsin due to their shape and nothing else.
Lastly, those with a felony criminal record may not own or carry any defensive spray or other container that holds O.C. or any similar chemical unless they are expressly pardoned.
Pepper spray is definitely legal for civilian use in the state of Wisconsin but you’ll have to be careful when purchasing it, especially if ordering off the internet. Wisconsin restricts civilian-legal pepper spray containers to 2 oz. or less of the active ingredient and also forbids anything except pure O.C. agent.
You must further be cautious that the pepper spray you select is not considered to be disguised as anything other than what it is. This is fairly odious compared to many states, but even so will not present too many problems to a cautious buyer.
Relevant State Statutes
941.26 Machine guns and other weapons; use in certain cases; penalty.
(1c) In this section:
(a) “CS gel” means nonatomizing, gel-form chlorobenzalmalononitrile.
(b) Except as provided in sub. (4), no person may sell, possess, use or transport any tear gas bomb, hand grenade, projectile or shell or any other container of any kind or character into which tear gas or any similar substance is used or placed for use to cause bodily discomfort, panic, or damage to property.
(a) Any person violating sub. (1g) (a) is guilty of a Class H felony.
(a) Subsections (1g) to (3) do not apply to any device or container that contains a combination of oleoresin of capsicum or CS gel and inert ingredients but does not contain any other gas or substance that will cause bodily discomfort.
(b) Whoever intentionally uses a device or container described under par. (a) to cause bodily harm or bodily discomfort to another is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) Paragraph (b) does not apply to any of the following:
1. Any person acting in self-defense or defense of another, as allowed under s. 939.48.
1. Any person who sells or distributes a device or container described under par. (a) to a person who has not attained 18 years of age is subject to a Class C forfeiture.
1m. Subdivision 1. does not apply to an actor who is a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a person who has not attained 18 years of age if the actor gives the person the device or container.
2. A person who proves all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence has a defense to prosecution under subd. 1.:
a. That the purchaser or distributee falsely represented that he or she had attained the age of 18 and presented an identification card.
b. That the appearance of the purchaser or distributee was such that an ordinary and prudent person would believe that the purchaser or distributee had attained the age of 18.
c. That the sale was made in good faith, in reasonable reliance on the identification card and appearance of the purchaser or distributee and in the belief that the purchaser or distributee had attained the age of 18.
1. Except as provided in subd. 2., any person who has not attained the age of 18 years and who possesses a device or container described under par. (a) is subject to a Class E forfeiture.
2. Subdivision 1. does not apply if the person’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian purchased the device or container for him or her or gave the device or container to him or her.
(L) Any person who has been convicted of a felony in this state or has been convicted of a crime elsewhere that would be a felony if committed in this state who possesses a device or container described under par. (a) is subject to a Class A misdemeanor. This paragraph does not apply if the person has received a pardon for the felony or crime.