Pepper Spray Laws – Illinois

https://www.survivalsullivan.com/illinois-pepper-spray-laws/

In what will probably be a surprise to some of our readers who are serious students of self-defense, Illinois, a state that is rightly infamous for its dim view of citizens’ rights to self-defense and absolutely oppressive firearms laws, is in fact very liberal when it comes to ownership and carry of pepper spray and other defensive sprays.

Illinois places no restrictions on the formulation of defensive sprays and nominally no restriction on quantity, though the exact wording of the state statute might mean that extra large canisters suitable for dispersing riots or area control might not be kosher for civilians.

flag of Illinois

Other than that, the only other restrictions are for underage persons and anyone with a felony criminal background.

Fast Facts

  • All kinds of defensive spray are legal in Illinois for civilian possession. Pepper sprays and both common tear gas formulations are allowed, as are blends of the two.
  • Though a citizen may nominally be in possession of any size dispenser, the exact wording of the statute that makes defensive sprays permissible mentions that it must be solely for personal defense. This might cast doubt on the legality of extra large cans typically used by law enforcement.
  • One must be 18 years of age or older to possess pepper spray in the state of Illinois.
  • Anyone with a felony record or a misdemeanor record that results in the loss of weapons and other civil rights may not possess pepper spray in Illinois.

Overview

Mercifully, there are very few restrictions concerning pepper spray in the state of Illinois, though it must be noted that there are several municipal laws in the larger cities, particularly Chicago, that impose additional restrictions beyond the standard set by state law. We will touch briefly on those shortly.

First, Illinois has no restrictions whatsoever concerning the type of defensive spray that a citizen carries so long as it is non-lethal and intended for self-defense.

OC, CN and CS sprays are all okay as are foams and gels. You may also carry a defensive spray formulation that is a blend of various chemicals also.

Perhaps the only question mark regarding defensive sprays in Illinois is the size or quantity that citizens are able to carry.

The exact text of the paragraph concerning defensive sprays in the relevant state statute reads that a person may not “carry on or about their person or in any vehicle a tear gas gun projector, bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance other than an object containing a non-lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older”.

This, of course, begs the question of whether or not large, so called “riot” cans of pepper spray or tear gas are legal for possession and use in Illinois, as these are of a type typically intended for law enforcement action, although they are functionally identical to smaller self-defense units.

Caution is advised before taking possession of any such container of pepper spray or tear gas.

Aside from this, the only other restrictions are age-related, being that no person under the age of 18 may possess pepper spray, and background-related as no felon may possess or use pepper spray or any other defensive spray.

It is also worth mentioning that larger cities in Illinois and in particular, as mentioned, Chicago are significantly more restrictive than the state law.

Chicago has a municipal law stating that one may never discharge any defensive spray inside a place of public occupation containing 20 or more people. Therefore it stands to reason that you may not utilize an otherwise legal pepper spray to defend yourself if you are in any sort of crowded venue.

Conclusion

Though Illinois laws concerning firearms and knives are plainly draconian, we can at least be thankful that the same cannot be said for their pepper spray laws which are mostly permissive.

Citizens can carry any kind of formulation that they wish and any kind or size of canister so long as it is intended for self-defense purposes.

Note that many of the larger cities have more restrictive laws than the state does and you will need to be aware of them prior to carrying there.

Relevant State Statutes

(720 ILCS 5/4-4)

Sec. 4-4. Intent.

A person intends, or acts intentionally or with intent, to accomplish a result or engage in conduct described by the statute defining the offense, when his conscious objective or purpose is to accomplish that result or engage in that conduct.


(720 ILCS 5/4-5)

Sec. 4-5. Knowledge. A person knows, or acts knowingly or with knowledge of:
(a) The nature or attendant circumstances of his or

her conduct, described by the statute defining the offense, when he or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct is of that nature or that those circumstances exist. Knowledge of a material fact includes awareness of the substantial probability that the fact exists.

(b) The result of his or her conduct, described by

the statute defining the offense, when he or she is consciously aware that that result is practically certain to be caused by his conduct.

Conduct performed knowingly or with knowledge is performed wilfully, within the meaning of a statute using the term “willfully”, unless the statute clearly requires another meaning.
When the law provides that acting knowingly suffices to establish an element of an offense, that element also is established if a person acts intentionally.


(720 ILCS 5/4-6)

Sec. 4-6. Recklessness. A person is reckless or acts recklessly when that person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, described by the statute defining the offense, and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation. An act performed recklessly is performed wantonly, within the meaning of a statute using the term “wantonly”, unless the statute clearly requires another meaning.


(720 ILCS 5/4-7)

Sec. 4-7. Negligence. A person is negligent, or acts negligently, when that person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or a result will follow, described by the statute defining the offense, and that failure constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.


(720 ILCS 5/7-1)

Sec. 7-1. Use of force in defense of person.

(a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.

(b) In no case shall any act involving the use of force justified under this Section give rise to any claim or liability brought by or on behalf of any person acting within the definition of “aggressor” set forth in Section 7-4 of this Article, or the estate, spouse, or other family member of such a person, against the person or estate of the person using such justified force, unless the use of force involves willful or wanton misconduct.


(720 ILCS 5/7-3)

Sec. 7-3. Use of force in defense of other property.

(a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with either real property (other than a dwelling) or personal property, lawfully in his possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his immediate family or household or of a person whose property he has a legal duty to protect. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

(b) In no case shall any act involving the use of force justified under this Section give rise to any claim or liability brought by or on behalf of any person acting within the definition of “aggressor” set forth in Section 7-4 of this Article, or the estate, spouse, or other family member of such a person, against the person or estate of the person using such justified force, unless the use of force involves willful or wanton misconduct.


(720 ILCS 5/24-1)

Sec. 24-1. Unlawful use of weapons.

(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:

(1) Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or

carries any bludgeon, black-jack, slung-shot, sand-club, sand-bag, metal knuckles or other knuckle weapon regardless of its composition, throwing star, or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or a ballistic knife, which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile by means of a coil spring, elastic material or compressed gas; or

(2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same

unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; or

(3) Carries on or about his person or in any vehicle,

a tear gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance, other than an object containing a non-lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older; or

(4) Carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed

on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode, legal dwelling, or fixed place of business, or on the land or in the legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection (a) (4) does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:


(b) Sentence. A person convicted of a violation of subsection 24-1(a)(1) through (5), subsection 24-1(a)(10), subsection 24-1(a)(11), or subsection 24-1(a)(13) commits a Class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of a violation of subsection 24-1(a)(8) or 24-1(a)(9) commits a Class 4 felony; a person convicted of a violation of subsection 24-1(a)(6) or 24-1(a)(7)(ii) or (iii) commits a Class 3 felony. A person convicted of a violation of subsection 24-1(a)(7)(i) commits a Class 2 felony and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years, unless the weapon is possessed in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle as defined in Section 1-146 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or on the person, while the weapon is loaded, in which case it shall be a Class X felony. A person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subsection 24-1(a)(4), 24-1(a)(8), 24-1(a)(9), or 24-1(a)(10) commits a Class 3 felony. A person convicted of a violation of subsection 24-1(a)(2.5) commits a Class 2 felony. The possession of each weapon in violation of this Section constitutes a single and separate violation.

(c) Violations in specific places.

(1) A person who violates subsection 24-1(a)(6) or

24-1(a)(7) in any school, regardless of the time of day or the time of year, in residential property owned, operated or managed by a public housing agency or leased by a public housing agency as part of a scattered site or mixed-income development, in a public park, in a courthouse, on the real property comprising any school, regardless of the time of day or the time of year, on residential property owned, operated or managed by a public housing agency or leased by a public housing agency as part of a scattered site or mixed-income development, on the real property comprising any public park, on the real property comprising any courthouse, in any conveyance owned, leased or contracted by a school to transport students to or from school or a school related activity, in any conveyance owned, leased, or contracted by a public transportation agency, or on any public way within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising any school, public park, courthouse, public transportation facility, or residential property owned, operated, or managed by a public housing agency or leased by a public housing agency as part of a scattered site or mixed-income development commits a Class 2 felony and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years.


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