In New Hampshire, pepper spray can be carried concealed without any restriction or permit. Carrying pepper spray concealed means no one can see it, but it is still accessible to you in a pocket or purse. Even though carrying pepper spray is legal in the state, there are still some places, like federal buildings, where it may be prohibited.
Not All Pepper Spray is the Same
There are three chemicals that are commonly used in pepper spray: orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile (CS), alphachloroacetaphenone (CN) and oleoresin capsicum (OC). CS and CN are the chemicals found in tear gases. People can train to build up a resistance or immunity to these chemicals. OC is an inflammatory, not an irritant, and it is harder to build up an immunity to it. OC is therefore a more effective chemical to use in pepper spray.
Carrying Pepper Spray
Open carry and concealed carry are the two legal categories of carrying weapons, including pepper spray. Open carry requires the weapon be visible to passersby; it must be carried outside the clothing and not in a bag or purse. Concealed carry means the weapon cannot be visible.
Places Where Pepper Spray is Prohibited
The state government may choose to prohibit pepper spray on its property and in government buildings. New Hampshire has no jurisdiction over federal government buildings. Federal buildings may prohibit pepper spray even if state buildings do not.
Preparing to Carry Pepper Spray
Like any weapon, using pepper spray properly requires awareness of how OC works as a chemical and how aerosol sprays work in open air. Practice with the spray until you know how far the spray will reach. Practice reaching for and presenting the spray until you can do it quickly and smoothly, without pointing the spray at yourself. Think about how to best handle an attacker or multiple attackers if you are surrounded or if the wind is blowing, given how the irritant spray can be blown back at you.
Using Pepper Spray if Attacked
Pepper spray is considered a weapon. As such, people cannot use pepper spray to threaten or to respond inappropriately to threats. Pepper spray can kill. It can also escalate a dangerous situation by prompting participants to use more lethal weapons. Using pepper spray inappropriately can get you arrested for assault and battery with a weapon. Avoid dangerous situations even when carrying pepper spray.
Janine Wonnacott has an MA in psychology from Catholic U. She earned a BA in psychology and a minor in economics from Georgetown U. She has published in Military History, Games, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington Families. She lives in Virginia.