Short of getting a license to carry a concealed firearm, there are several very viable weapons that New Yorkers are allowed to carry in public for the purpose of self defense.

In fact, there is a misconception surrounding most of the following weapons. Many people think of them as illegal, and result in an arrest simply for having them in your possession. But, as explained below, each of the following can be used to protect you from a violent or deadly attack, and are perfectly legal to carry in most circumstances in New York State.

Taser/Stun Gun

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Taser gun - via Getty Images

There maybe some confusion regarding possession of stun guns and tasers, however, a court ruling on the matter should address any cloudiness regarding their legality when carried for self defense. Various media reports say the law banning civilian tasers and stun guns is still on the books, however, a federal judge ruled in 2019 that the law is unconstitutional.

As reported by the NY Post following the judges ruling:

 Weapons experts, lawyers, even some politicians in New York believe it’s now perfectly legal to own and use one — as long as it’s in self defense.


Mace/Pepper Spray

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Both Pepper Spray and Mace are legal to carry for the purpose of self defense in New York. However, there are some peculiar caveats, especially with Pepper Spray.

  • You must be at least 18 years old to purchase Pepper Spray. Not to carry it, but to buy it
  • When purchasing, the buyer must sign a form stating they are of legal age, and that they do not have any assaults or felonies convictions on their criminal record.
  • It is only legal to carry in a small, pocket sized container and (this part gets odd, but don't worry, the manufacturer has already done this part for you) the container itself must say something along the lines of: for self defense purposes only.

Additionally, as is the case with many items on the list, while the item may be legal to own and carry, you can't necessarily possess it everywhere. Example: on a plane. In fact, according to Legal Beagle:

If a person gets caught with pepper spray on a plane, it is a felony charge that carries a fine of up to $25,000.


(Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

A law making the possession of nunchucks illegal in New York had been in place since the mid-70's. However, the law was struck down by a U.S. District Judge in 2018 following a martial-art-enthusiasts near four-decades long legal fight. The judge ruled the nunchuck ban was a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

As reported by the Washington Post:

...U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen struck down New York’s nunchuck ban as unconstitutional, finding that nunchucks are protected under the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Chen concluded that nunchucks are commonly used by law-abiding citizens — for example, by karate enthusiasts or for self-defense — so therefore banning them outright runs afoul of the Second Amendment...


Key Knife, Credit Card Knife, or other small knife

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The little blades are often very sharp and can certainly be used to fend off an attacker. Each is legal to possess in New York, as long as they are being carried in their intended fashion: either tucked under a key or folded up in your wallet.

Keep in mind, if the knife's blade is concealed (not being publicly displayed) and the blade is less than four inches in length, simply possessing it is not a crime. Of course, if the weapon is used to menace or threaten someone, you can bet you'll be arrested for criminal possession of a weapon.



The HyperWhistle is a brand name that touts itself as the loudest whistle ever recorded. Registering an output over 140db, this device won't help you fend off or injure your attacker(s), but its ear piercing sound does allow you to alert others and is essentially used as a call for help.

Whether a HyperWhistle or a similar, competing brand, these whistles are completely legal to carry, even on an airplane.

5 Potent Weapons You Can Legally Carry for Self Defense in New York

Short of being licensed to carry a concealed firearm, there are several very viable and possibly deadly weapons that New Yorkers are allowed to carry in public for the purpose of self defense. 
In fact, there is a misconception surrounding most of the following weapons.

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