While defense keychains are growing in popularity especially among women, there is little and often confusing information about the legality of these defense tools on the internet. Many small businesses have opened to specialize in selling these items, but most do not disclose the risks associated with carrying or even owning some of these defense keychains. Since they are easy to purchase online someone you know likely owns one of these defense keychains and may be at risk. Though, it’s not possible for vendors to be aware of every local law and state law surrounding these defense devices; it would be ethical to encourage consumers to do their own research or contact their local law enforcement before purchasing. Luckily, you have D.I.Y. Defense to help you make an informed decision; though we still encourage you to contact your local police force if you have any questions.
Why would a defense keychain be illegal?
The only way a defense keychain is considered illegal, is if it can be considered a deadly weapon. The definition of deadly weapon varies from state to state. For example, some states consider brass knuckles a deadly weapon while others may consider a stun gun a deadly weapon. In some states you may be allowed to carry these weapons if you obtain a special permit.
Which defense keychains might be considered illegal?
Defense keychains that may be illegal, age restricted, have regulations, or require certain permits are Kitty Knuckles, Kubatons, Stun Guns, and Pepper Spray. Take a look at each defense tool and how it is used.
- Kitty Knuckles- Made of resin or alloy metal these seemingly-cute cat head shaped keychains are a great defense tool designed to slip over the knuckles with the cat ears pointing outwards. In the event of an attack, a person you use it to defend themselves by striking the attacker. While it can certainly save your life it should be a last resort as the cute little kitty can be deadly. In many states this defense tool meets the definition of brass knuckles making it either illegal or regulated in many states.
- Kubatons- Made of metal these sticks are the perfect size to fit in your palm, most featuring grooves for the fingers for a comfortable fit, with a sharp pointed side that that protrudes from the fist. In the event of an attack, it would be used to strike or stab an assailant. Many claim that it can be used to break a car window, but it would take a lot to make that happen so a car window breaker is recommended.
- Pepper Spray- Typically in an aerosol or spray form, pepper spray is a nonlethal defense tool that makes it difficult for an attacker to see. One component of the spray is chili pepper which causes burning and the eyes to water. As the least likely to cause serious injury, this defense keychain comes highly recommended and should be used as a first line of defense.
- Stun Guns-The electrical devices are often square in shape with a button on the side and a contact point on the end that conducts electricity, though there are some that are disguised to look like flashlights, keys, pens and various objects. In the event of an attack, this would be used to stun an attacker by electrically shocking them. While most of the time this is not deadly, it could be in certain scenarios such as if the attacker has a preexisting heart condition.
Where are defense keychains illegal?
In general, Defense Keychains that include kitty knuckles, kubatons, pepper spray, pocketknives, or stun guns are not allowed in government buildings, airports, on school property, or in concerts or sporting arenas. Here’s a list of what we found about the legality of each of these items in each state.
There's not much to find about the legality of this kitty knuckles specifically, but because the core concern is its similarity to brass knuckles, we looked at each state's laws for those. It is important to know that brass knuckles are illegal in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Colombia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington.
You can carry them in the following states with a permit Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. For these states, we recommend contacting your local law enforcement to ask specifically about the legality of kitty knuckles.
They are legal in Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
See Brass Knuckles Legality by State 2023 - Wisevoter for more information.
Because we obviously need to know if kitty knuckles are legal in our area, we contacted the Lynchburg police department in Virginia to see what they knew about the kitty knuckles. According to the officer we spoke to, kitty knuckles are not illegal and are not being considered brass knuckles; therefore, they do not require a permit. Yay! If there is ever a concern, we suggest you also reach out to local law enforcement as well as. It's the easiest and most reliable way to get accurate information.
In most places, kubatons are legal provided they are being used for a practical purpose rather than as a weapon. Though there are states like California where they are considered illegal at this time. While the law is quite vague when it comes to this defense tool it really comes down to the state’s definition of deadly weapon, and whether a concealed carry permit is required to carry a deadly weapon. If you have any questions, please contact your local law enforcement agency.
Good news! Pepper spray is legal in every state, but has restrictions in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin. Some states limit the amount of pepper spray a person can have and others only allow the use of pepper spray for defense purposes. And, according to WiseVoter.com, it is illegal to purchase pepper spray online in Massachusetts and New York.
For more information checkout Pepper Spray Laws by State 2023 - Wisevoter
Legal in almost all states stun guns make a great self-defense tool, but there are two exceptions. Hawaii and Rhode Island do not allow the ownership of stun guns.
For more information go to Stun Gun Laws by State: What You Need to Know – GuardDogSecurity (guarddog-security.com)
What are the legal alternatives?
There are few legal alternatives for self-defense keychains in terms of self-defense weapons, but you can choose a keychain from D.I.Y. Defense based on the laws in your area. Another gadget worth getting is a personal safety alarm, which is a small alarm keychain that emits a 125+ decibel sound when the safety plug is removed. Think of it as a car alarm, but for a person. We believe pepper spray and a personal alarm make a great first line of defense because they avoid the attack without having to physically engage assailant. Getting physical should be a last resort, it's always better to avoid the situation when possible.
What you do with this information is up to you, but we thought you should know. Afterall, no one wants themselves or their 16-year-old accidently expelled from school or worse, arrested. Laws are constantly changing and there is no way we can keep up, but we will try. Please check the publishing date to ensure that information is current and as always, we encourage you to contact your local police department if you have any doubts or questions.