I was speaking to a buddy in the Big Apple and he was curious which self-defense weapons he could legally carry in New York. I told him I’d do some research and get back to him. It turns out that New York has some pretty strict rules on what law abiding citizens can use to defend themselves. They say these rules are to protect the public because we all know that making something contraband stops criminals from getting their hands on it.
List of Legal Weapons in NYC
- Guns (thank you founding fathers)
- Pepper spray
- Some knives
- Tactical Pens
Guns in New York
The only reason that firearms are legal in New York is the second amendment and The State does all it can to restrict gun ownership. Despite this, the state of New York still has some of the highest murder rates in the nation.
A rifle is legal to possess without a permit but a pistol requires a license. In order to get a concealed carry license, you must prove there is a ‘special need for protection’.
A major piece of legislation governing guns in New York is the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 or NYSafe Act.
Under this act any semi-automatic rifle (with a detachable magazine) or shotgun (non-pump) with just one of these features are banned: 1) pistol grip; 2) bayonet lug; 3) telescoping or folding stock; 4) flash suppressor; 5) threaded barrel; or 6) grenade launcher. The SAFE Act expanded the ban to add the following features: 7) muzzle brake (Dec 2014 Federal court All references to muzzle “break” be stricken); 8) muzzle compensator; 9) thumbhole stock, and 10) foregrip. All semi-automatic versions of assault-style rifles and shotguns purchased prior to January 15, 2013, are grandfathered but must be registered within one year of the SAFE Act passage.
Permits issued in New York are valid statewide, except in NYC, unless validated by the NYC police commissioner. An NYC concealed carry license is valid throughout the state. NY Penal Code 400
Pepper Spray is ‘Legal’ in New York
Yes, it is legal as long as it is pocket size. The catch is that you must buy it from a firearms dealer or pharmacy, and fill a legal form before doing so. Out-of-state sellers cannot ship pepper spray to customers in New York State. And the spray can only be used for self-defense, not any type of offense or recreation.
However, there are two simple loopholes. First, New Yorkers can buy pepper spray meant for animal control, e.g. for bears and dogs. Bear spray is presumably available in New York camping stores. As a result, you can also get animal pepper spray shipped to New York. Second, it’s no secret that many New Yorkers either buy their pepper spray in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut or get it shipped to an acquaintance there. It’s perfectly legal to do so, and once the spray is given to you, it’s perfectly legal to carry in New York. You can get really good bear spray from amazon.com.
“FROM New York State Penal Law Exemption of Weapons Law §265. Sale of “self-defense spray device” Section §265.20
14.Possession in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph of a self-defense spray device as defined herein for the protection of a person or property and use of such self-defense spray device under circumstances which would justify the use of physical force pursuant to article thirty-five of this chapter.
(a) As used in this section “self-defense spray device” shall mean a pocket sized spray device which contains and releases a chemical or organic substance which is intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or disability through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air or any like device containing pepper or similar disabling agent.
(b) The exemption under this paragraph shall not apply to a person who:
(i) is less than eighteen years of age; or
(ii) has been previously convicted in this state of a felony or any assault; or
(iii) has been convicted of a crime outside the state of New York which if committed in New York would constitute a felony or any assault crime.”
Tasers are Illegal in New York
15-c. “Electronic stun gun” means any device designed primarily as a weapon, the purpose of which is to stun, cause mental disorientation, knock out or paralyze a person by passing a high voltage electrical shock to such person.
New York State allows you to own a knife, however, in New York CITY you may not possess any knife in which the blade released with the flick of a wrist or ‘gravity. These are known as ‘gravity knives’. There was an attempt to legalize these knives but it was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In general, the State is more lenient than NYC when it comes to any sort of weapon possession. Often these laws are used as additional charges that can be plea bargained away.
A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when: (1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or “Kung Fu star”; or (2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or
In §265.00 the legislature defines these weapons:
4. ”Switchblade knife” means any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife. 5. ”Gravity knife” means any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.
Tactical Pens are Legal in New York
If you are looking for a self-defense blade then I recommend a tactical pen. Since the blade cannot be exposed with the flick of the wrist it doesn’t fall under the ‘gravity knife prohibition. A good tactical pen should also be a multi-use tool since that way you’re more likely to have it with you when you need it. Here is a coupon to get a $55 tactical pen for free you just have to pay for shipping. I own one myself and you won’t get a better deal anywhere else.
Yes, A Whistle is an EDC Tool!
People are often shocked when I suggest to them to carry a whistle with them as a self-defense tool. However, if you think about it, a whistle is a great everyday carry (EDC) weapon.
- It’s innocuous
- A whistle is lightweight
- It’s cheap!
- It’s scary
A good whistle can make a noise of over 300 decibels. That’s almost as loud as a jackhammer. Trust me, you wouldn’t want a whistle like this blown in your ear. In addition, it creates an element of surprise. I watched a video on the TODAY Show where a convicted mugger said a potential victim blew a whistle at him. This surprised him and made him run away. I made sure my mother, grandmother, and sister all have a whistle.