New Hampshire Pepper Spray Laws

A young woman pulls a can of tear gas or bottle of pepper spray out of her purse. Means of self-defense. Selective focus, close-up.
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New Hampshire residents can carry pepper spray for self-defense without a permit or any other restrictions. Despite pepper spray's legality in New Hampshire, there are places where a person cannot take it, such as into federal or government buildings and on planes. Minors and felons cannot legally carry pepper spray in any state.

What Is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray is a lacrimator – it stimulates tear production. It comes in an aerosol can or in a spray bottle. Its main component is oleoresin capsicum, an oil from the Capsicum genus of plants. Capsaicin is a chemical that adds heat to chili peppers, but pepper spray has a higher concentration of capsaicin than do chili peppers.

The pepper spray that law enforcement officers carry has a five to 10 percent capsaicin concentration. The higher its concentration, the longer its effects last.

Pepper Spray Laws

Civilians can buy pepper spray for self-defense purposes. However, some states, like California, have laws restricting its sale. Under New Hampshire state law, pepper spray is legal for its residents to purchase and use.

What Happens When Pepper Spray Hits Someone?

The effects of pepper spray can last from a few minutes to a few hours. It irritates the skin, eyes and mucus membranes. The person sprayed may experience external effects such as:

  • Watery and red eyes, difficulty opening eyes, corneal abrasions and sensitivity to light.
  • Painful skin, with redness, blisters, itching or swelling.

Inhaling pepper spray can cause coughing, throat and nasal irritation, runny nose and difficulty breathing. Those with lung issues such as COPD or asthma can experience more severe breathing effects than those without them.

Use of Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is meant to be used in self-defense when someone is in physical danger from an animal or another person. It offers a nonlethal way for an individual to escape their attacker. Pepper spray has a range of about 10 feet, allowing the user to spray an attacker before they get too close to their potential victim.

Despite its legality in New Hampshire and other states as a defensive weapon, individuals must be at least 18 years old to use it. Minors cannot use pepper spray or possess it for any reason, as it is dangerous to others and themselves. People with felony convictions also cannot possess or use pepper spray. Depending on their past charges, they may face consequences for carrying this self-defense spray, including fines.

Prohibited Places for Carrying Pepper Spray

While New Hampshire residents can carry pepper spray, there are certain places in the state where it is prohibited. Since the events of September 11, 2001, pepper spray and other weapons have been illegal in both state and federal buildings in all 50 states and Washington D.C. Individuals who are caught with pepper spray in these buildings face penalties and fines.

Pepper spray is also prohibited on commercial airlines, as it poses a significant risk and harm to passengers and flight crew if purposely or accidentally sprayed. Individuals caught with pepper spray on a flight face felony changes that carry a fine of $25,000.