Is pepper spray legal in Massachusetts?

In this brief article, we’ll address the search query: “Is pepper spray legal in Massachusetts?” Also, we’ll explore what pepper spray is, what pepper spray is used for, what places in the US it is legal, and what are its contraindications. 

Is pepper spray legal in Massachusetts? 

Yes, pepper spray is legal in the state of Massachusetts, so long as the bearing citizen is over 18 years of age, and under the same state’s law is not listed as a person who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing self-defense pepper spray. 

People under the age of 18 may be allowed to bear pepper spray, contingent on the obtainment of an FID card (Firearms Identification card). 

Individuals who may not purchase or bear self-defense spray include:

  • those who have been convicted or adjudicated as youth offenders within the state of Massachusetts,
  • those who in other states or federal jurisdictions have been convicted or adjudicated as youth offenders,
  • those who have been committed to any institutions or healthcare facilities for mental illness,
  • those who had the time of application (of psychological testing and determination of recovery) are younger than 15 years of age,
  • those who are not lawfully residing within the state of Massachusetts
  • those with issued warrants for their suspension or arrest. 

Carrying pepper spray on your person without being authorized to, can entail a fine of no more than 300 dollars, or even a sentence in a correctional facility, of no more than 2 years. 

We encourage our readers who reside or plan to visit Massachusetts to take all the appropriate measures with their self-defense items, and to consult local law enforcement outlets on statutes and current laws within the jurisdiction.

What is pepper spray? 

Pepper spray is an aerosol that is formulated with oils that are extracted (though sometimes they’re synthesized) from peppers. Also known as mace, capsicum spray, OC spray, or oleoresin spray, it is an irritant used to incapacitate attackers. 

Chemically, Pepper spray is made from extracted capsaicin and it is formulated with emulsifying agents such as propylene glycol, that allow it to be suspended in water, pressurized, and made into a spray. 

Oftentimes, there are no guidelines that determine what the exact concentration of capsaicin in pepper spray should be, therefore, different iterations made by different manufacturers can have varying concentrations.

However, the United States federal government has determined that those indicated for bear attacks must contain at least one percent and not more than 2% of an active ingredient. 

What is pepper spray used for? 

Pepper spray can be used by the police, and by individuals engaging in self-defense. It can inflict a burning sensation in the eyes, airways, skin, and mucous membranes, and it is strictly indicated for usage on people and/or animals who pose an immediate threat to the safety of others. 

Originally, pepper spray was formulated as it means to fend off wild animals such as cougars, bears, bobcats, dogs, and other animals that may present threats to a person’s wellbeing. 

However, it was soon developed for use as a means to control riots, and it was adapted to riot control guidelines. Currently, it is indicated as a tool that should be used when protesters are violent and there is an immediate threat to the safety of both law enforcement and others.

Where is pepper spray legal in the US? 

Currently, pepper spray can be legally acquired and carried in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. 

However, each state has its own legislation regarding who may purchase it legally, what the fines are for carrying it without being legally allowed to do so, and what are the penalties for selling pepper spray to people who are not legally deemed able to carry pepper spray. 

Each state also has its own regulations regarding the concentration of active ingredients and uses that are strictly forbidden.

Notably, when traveling with pepper spray, it is strictly forbidden to carry pepper spray in a carry-on bag on a commercial airline or to have pepper spray on your person beyond the point of metal detectors in an airport. 

Pepper spray can be traveled with, though it must be packed within checked baggage.

We encourage readers to consult the legislation of each individual state, especially the one they reside in, and the ones they plan to visit, to remain within the bounds of the law. 

What are the contraindications for using pepper spray? 

Pepper spray is strictly contraindicated as a means to inflict damage on a person that is not violent, or is operating within the law. 

This means that a police officer cannot mace an individual who is compliant or otherwise not a threat to anyone’s safety.

Also, civilians may not use pepper spray as a means to deter the well-being of others who do not pose an immediate threat to their safety. 

Failing to adhere to these conditions may result in charges of assault being filed against the perpetrator. 

Being maced may require a period of resting to fully recover, and in more serious conditions, medical intervention to treat acute symptoms such as elevated heart rates and anxiety symptoms. 

We encourage our readers to always prioritize both their health and that of others, and only use pepper spray if it is absolutely necessary to preserve their well-being, along with that of others around them.


In this brief article, we’ve addressed the search query: “Is pepper spray legal in Massachusetts?” Also, we’ve explored what pepper spray is, what pepper spray is used for, what places in the US it is legal, and what are its contraindications. 


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