Know the Law: Non-Lethal Self-Defense | Pennsylvania (2023)

2022-03-23T00:36:43-05:00September 1st, 2019|Tags: Pennsylvania, Self Defense, Videos|22 Comments

The following is a video transcript.

Always Be Carrying, or “ABC.” That is the motto we live by to ensure that we are safe and our loved ones are safe, but a firearm is not a compliance tool. It is not capable of delivering less than lethal deadly force. Remember, the use of deadly force is only justified when you have a reasonable belief that you’re in imminent fear of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or sexual assault. What happens when you’re in fear, but not the type of fear that would justify the use of deadly force?

Non-lethal weapons and their roles in self-defense

In Pennsylvania, you can use force if you reasonably believe that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting yourself against the use of unlawful force by another. So, that poses the question, what types of non-lethal force can I use to protect myself? Let’s talk about three non-lethal weapons that you can legally carry here in Pennsylvania.

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Essential Updates

#1: OC Spray

First, OC spray or pepper spray. OC spray is legal in Pennsylvania. It is capable of concealment, and you’re not required to have a license to carry a firearm in order to do carry it. OC spray can be in the possession of anyone regardless of age or background. There are only a few places, such as schools and courthouses, where you cannot legally possess OC spray. Most importantly, it gives you a very effective method to stand-off an attacker when the use of force is justified, but deadly force is not.

#2: Tasers and stun guns

Another less-than-lethal weapon that you can legally carry in Pennsylvania is a taser or stun gun. However, you can only carry them when possessed solely for the purpose of self-defense. A stun gun is a device that is designed to temporarily immobilize or incapacitate a person by means of electric pulse or current. Stun guns are lawful to be possessed by a person of any age. However, in the city of Philadelphia, you must be at least 18 years of age to have a stun gun. Further, under Pennsylvania law, if you are a person prohibited from possessing, owning, or transferring a firearm, you are also prohibited from possessing a stun gun, for any reason.

#3: The Best non-lethal weapon

Finally, the best non-deadly weapon you can possess is common sense and situational awareness . In many instances, your best bet may be simply to back away from the situation and get away. No sense in inviting trouble into your life if you don’t have to.

For any questions regarding non-lethal weapons in Pennsylvania, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


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  1. Candace Cunningham11/11/2020 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Are you allowed to own a stun gun or taser if you have a DUI’s that is from 12 years ago?

    • Michael Wayne Richardson06/08/2021 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      It said in the article anywhere in Pennsylvania except for Philadelphia you’re allowed to own a stun gun and taser at any age if it has a pulse electrocution or a current execution and it can only be for self-defense

  2. Tom D.11/22/2020 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    My opinion is that it appears that in PA a felony would disqualify you from possessing a stun gun or a taser. DUI is usually a misdemeanor, if so, you should be able to possess either. Keep in mind that Philadelphia prohibits stun guns and tasers there.

  3. Michael Astacio01/01/2021 at 4:40 am - Reply

    Can I own a byrna hd launcher in PA if I am a non violent felon it is a non lethal self defense weapon

    • Harry04/05/2021 at 12:50 am - Reply

      Yes you can. I have one and took it into to state police here in lancaster. I was handed it back after they did some research and was told i was legally allowed to possess it. Given a little bit of shit pver it because it does look like a real pistol. But to answer your question, YES, as a felon you can own a byrna HD.

      • Sean08/28/2021 at 10:56 pm - Reply

        Thanks for that!! Exactly why I came here 🤣

        • Joe06/10/2022 at 10:29 am - Reply

          Me too lol

    • Harry B.04/05/2021 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Yes i have one. I took it to the state police and verified that after i got mine. And i have 10 plus felonies on my record.

      • Brian05/04/2021 at 3:47 pm - Reply

        What if I’m a non violent felony offender in Pennsylvania. A security detail job for events with risk of people having or carrying guns both illegally and legally. For outside venue and parking clearing only. Can I have ( or carry only on the job or bank and forth from the job) a weapon similar or the actual byrna hd? An i legally allowed? Sad I cannot carry a stun gun it looks like. Thanks.

  4. Sep01/14/2021 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Is it better to be judged by 12 or carried by 6?

  5. alex05/05/2021 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Can I carry pepper spray for self defense as a minor? with legal guardian permission? from Philadelphia

  6. John R.05/13/2021 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Can you carry a pepper ball gun using OC pepper balls in Pennsylvania. I’ve been looking into the laws for a few weeks now and I haven’t seen anything on it

  7. Richard05/16/2021 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    I am a security guard and mostly work in high schools doing sports events. Can I legally carry a pepper spray gun for protection.

    • Michael Bohannon07/31/2021 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      Ask your’s up to them, if you do security on your own, it can be carried..

  8. Evan07/11/2021 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    @ Brian

    I just read 2 comments above (Harry, Harry B) that as a felon you can indeed carry a Byrna HD. However, being a security guard you may need approval from your employer to carry while on duty. I’m a Security Officer myself and due to the client policy for who we work for we are prohibited from carrying any weapon while on site.

  9. Ian08/21/2021 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Can I use steel ammo for self defense purposes only. I have a UMAREX HDR .50 and I don’t want to get in trouble for using steel rounds for self defense but I feel that pepper spray will not stop a defendant if I don’t hit them in the right spots

  10. Kenneth Mabie09/29/2021 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Tasers and Stun Guns ARE NOT LEGAL in PA as per 18PA908 Offensive weapons law

  11. Paul11/05/2021 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Can you carrie a Bynra concealed in Pa

    • mhoule11/07/2021 at 6:45 pm - Reply

      If you’re a member, please call our non-emergency line during business hours at 1-877-448-6839. This is a great question for one of our Independent Program Attorneys.

  12. Lori02/21/2022 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    Are tasers and stun guns legal to carry for the common lawful purpose of self defense in PA as of Feb 2022?

  13. Lori02/21/2022 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Are all rubber bullet weapons legal to carry for common lawful purpose of self defense in PA as of Feb 2022?

  14. Daniel jweid05/01/2022 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    As a nonviolent person with a clean record can u own a Bryna HD gun with out a permit in Pennsylvania

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