A perfectly simple question which -one would think- would have a clear and obvious answer: Are tactical pens legal? However, it does not. There are several reasons for this:
1) The subjectivity of circumstances in which you may find yourself in while carrying a tactical pen.
2) The variance and vagueness of laws in your particular area, be these national laws or state/regional laws.
3) The particular actions you may be engaged in while using your tactical pen.
We are not lawyers, but we have looked into the topic of the legality of tactical pens keenly and are providing our findings here to keep you informed:
Laws for Tactical Pens are Subjective
When answering the question: “Are tactical pens legal?”, there are some issues to consider. Whether or not you are in a strictly legally permissible situation does not mean that you cannot be questioned or even arrested by a law enforcement officer. That officer may be no more clear on the legality of your situation at the given time and -depending on immediate decisions he/she has to make- may choose to consider you in violation of some statute or other and thus decide to bring you in.
The problem is not simply about possession of an item. Also important is the INTENT with which the item is carried. So if an officer determines that you are carrying a concealed weapon with the intent to use it for harm, that immediately complicates things and you can be arrested. This is not merely conjectural. Click here to this Police Discussion Forum page for an example of officers having to debate the legality of tactical pens because of the subjectivity and vagueness of local laws. Although this discussion takes place in the United Kingdom, the relevant ideas are relevant to the United States and other countries as well.
Self Defense Laws in the United States
We will be discussing particular local self defense laws more in the future, but for now, the best advice is that you need to be clear what your local laws say about your rights for self defense. In general, local laws regarding self defense fall into three categories:
Duty to Retreat
States imposing this requirement mandate that an individual must remove himself from a threatening situation in all circumstances in which such removal is possible without creating greater danger for that individual. This was originally the most common code in most states. Although a number of states still hold to this, many others have replaced it with the alternatives below.
Stand Your Ground
This has been controversial for many years, although its adoption has progressed now to over 20 states. Stand Your Ground allows one to use force to defend oneself in a threatening situation without first opting to remove oneself from the situation. But there are gray areas here, since the use of lethal force in these circumstances is not universally permitted.
Castle Doctrine Laws
These laws codify the Stand Your Ground framework for ones personal property, specifically their homes, place of work or their vehicle. It acknowledges unique rights to these places and allows the use of deadly force when one is threatened in such obvious places of their dominion.
Know Your Local Laws
It is absolutely important to know the local statutes not only of your area of residence, but also places where you intend to travel with your tactical pen as a self defense weapon.
Findlaw has an excellent resource for information on this. Click Here to Local State Self Defense Laws at FindLaw.
We have a specific article dedicated to TSA Rules for Tactical Pens.
See our dedicated page on Tactical Pen Self Defense techniques.