With spring weather ahead, more people will be hitting the trails to enjoy leisurely hikes and strolls. This is sparking questions if it's legal to carry pepper spray for self defense.

It's understandable why more people may feel the need to purchase mace. No one wants to be caught defenseless by a criminal or wild animal.

While pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, New York is among the few to have certain restrictions placed on it.

What Are New York's Laws on Pepper Spray?

Photo Credit -- skhoward/ThinkStock

Pepper spray can protect someone in a threatening situation, such as being charged at by an aggressive animal.

Mace recently helped save a man who was being stabbed on the subway, and women in NYC say they are stocking up on it amid a surge of violent incidents.

Despite rising unease and a need to protect oneself, New York is among a handful of states that have certain restrictions on pepper spray.

While it is legal to purchase, not everyone can buy it. Residents must be over the age of 18 to buy pepper spray, however they can only purchase a maximum of 2 canisters.

Additionally, pepper spray can only be purchased in person within the state boundary, which is vexing New Yorkers who are petitioning the state to make it more accessible. It is currently illegal to ship pepper spray or gels to New York.

Sabre, which provides high-potency pepper spray for commercial use, outlined other restrictions the Empire State has on mace.

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

All self-defense spray canisters cannot exceed 0.75 oz and can't exceed 0.7% major capsaicinoids. Additionally, pepper spray cannot contain any other substance except oleoresin capsicum as its active ingredient.

Also, pepper spray canisters cannot be camouflaged.

Lastly, pepper spray can only be sold by licensed firearms dealers and licensed pharmacists.

Violating any of these rules can result in misdemeanor or even felony charges.

New Yorkers Want These Restrictions Gone

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

As New Yorkers feel less safe in cities like Utica and Manhattan, a rising number of residents are asking the state to revisit its stance on pepper spray.

SABRE says it has recorded a rise in demand from New York residents and CEO David Nance told the NY Post the reason may be because pepper spray allows victims to maintain a distance from their would-be attacker.

"Pepper spray allows individuals to protect themselves at a safe distance, which means they don’t have to get hands-on with an attacker," said Nance.

Mace also assists with aggressive animals, as anyone with a dog knows how frightening it can be when an off-leash animal charges out of nowhere. Self-defense spray helps deescalate the situation and prevent a bite injury - or worse.

Read More: You May Soon Be Able to Legally Cheat on Your Spouse in NY

Pepper spray actually affects animals, like dogs and coyotes, more severely because it causes excessive irritation to their sensitive noses. Chances are the pain causes them to stop in their tracks, allowing joggers and dog walkers to escape without injury.

While residents are hoping New York loosens its restrictions on mace, chances are individuals who want it hope they never use it. In the end, it's treated like a last resort that could ultimately save someone from serious injury - or worse.

Do you think New York needs to rethink its laws on pepper spray? Sound off in the comments below.

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