Metropolitan Police Department

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Mace, Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays

It is legal for a person over the age of 18 to possess self-defense sprays in the District of Columbia, such as mace or pepper spray.

However, under D.C. Official Code § 7-2502.12, the only legal types of self-defense sprays are “a mixture of a lacrimator including chloroacetophenone, alphacloracetophenone, phenylchloromethylketone, orthochlorobenazalm-alononitrile or oleoresin capsicum.” Additionally, the self-defense spray must be propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with clearly written instructions for use, and dated with its anticipated useful life.

If a person purchases a self-defense spray from a person or business located in the District, the seller will provide a registration form to be completed by the purchaser. The seller is then required to forward this registration form to the MPD Firearms Registration Section.

A person may use a self-defense spray only as reasonable force to defend themselves or their property and only if the self-defense spray meets the requirements above.

For further information, please visit the MPD Firearms Registration Section, 300 Indiana Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20001 or contact them at (202) 727-4275.