Tear Gas / Pepper Spray

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Tear Gas / Pepper Spray

Generally pepper spray and tear gas are classified together. Only aerosol sprays are permitted, and at most 2.5 fluid ounces of spray are permitted in one container. The law is silent on how many containers one may carry.

21 and over may buy, possess, and use tear gas weapons in a non-criminal manner. No training is required by law.

Prior felony or assault convictions, or addiction to drugs, disqualifies a person from buying a tear gas weapon.

Definition

Penal Code 17240

(a) As used in this part, “tear gas” applies to and includes any liquid,
gaseous or solid substance intended to produce temporary physical
discomfort or permanent injury through being vaporized or otherwise
dispersed in the air.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), “tear gas” does not apply to, and
does not include, any substance registered as an economic poison as
provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 12751) of Division 7 of
the Food and Agricultural Code, provided that the substance is not
intended to be used to produce discomfort or injury to human beings.

'Tear Gas' therefore includes both CS gas, the usual component of tear gas, and capsaicin (pepper) irritants.

Penal Code

Penal Code 22810 is the primary section.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person may purchase,
possess, or use tear gas or any tear gas weapon for the projection or
release of tear gas if the tear gas or tear gas weapon is used solely
for self-defense purposes, subject to the following requirements:

(a) No person convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault
under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any
other state, government, or country, or convicted of misuse of tear gas
under subdivision (g), shall purchase, possess, or use tear gas or any
tear gas weapon.

(b) No person addicted to any narcotic drug shall purchase, possess, or
use tear gas or any tear gas weapon.

(c) No person shall sell or furnish any tear gas or tear gas weapon to
a minor.

(d) No minor shall purchase, possess, or use tear gas or any tear gas
weapon.

No projectiles (e.g. 'pepper balls') or non-aerosols are permitted. No more than 2.5 ounces of spray liquid are permitted in a container.

(e) (1) No person shall purchase, possess, or use any tear gas weapon
that expels a projectile, or 
that expels the tear gas by any method other than an aerosol spray, or
that contains more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray.

Special labeling is required

(2) Every tear gas container and tear gas weapon that may be lawfully 
purchased, possessed, and used pursuant to this section shall have a
label that states: “WARNING: The use of this substance or device for  
any purpose other than self-defense is a crime under the law. The
contents are dangerous — use with care.”

Non-acceptable devices and products

For one commercial example, the Kimber PepperBlaster II (2015 version) is eliminated because it specifies it uses a "non-aerosol pyrotechnic delivery system".

Other kinds of aerosol poisons and products - insect sprays, household cleaners and the like - are also illegal in this usage. Not only will those not be properly labeled, and likely to contain much more than the 2.5 ounce limit, but additional problems regarding misuse of the product(s) may occur, including charges of battery.

Federal law 'use according to label instructions'

Federal law - 40 CFR 170.9, in relevant part, states

§ 170.9 Violations of this part.
(a) Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7
U.S.C. 136 et seq.) (FIFRA) section 12(a)(2)(G) it is unlawful for any
person “to use any registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with
its labeling.” When this part is referenced on a label, users must
comply with all of its requirements except those that are inconsistent
with product-specific instructions on the labeling. 

7 USC 136(j)(a)(2) provides

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person—
...
(G) to use any registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling; 

The civil (not criminal) penalty specified in 7 USC 136l(a)(2) is

(a) Civil penalties 
...
(2) Private applicator
Any private applicator or other person not included in paragraph (1)
who violates any provision of this subchapter subsequent to receiving a
written warning from the Administrator or following a citation for a
prior violation, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator
of not more than $1,000 for each offense, except that any applicator
not included under paragraph (1) of this subsection who holds or
applies registered pesticides, or uses dilutions of registered
pesticides, only to provide a service of controlling pests without
delivering any unapplied pesticide to any person so served, and who
violates any provision of this subchapter may be assessed a civil
penalty by the Administrator of not more than $500 for the first
offense nor more than $1,000 for each subsequent offense.