The Legality of Self-Defense Weapons in Spain. The Definitive Post.

January 27, 2012
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We’ve been asked many times about self-defense measures, the legality of sprays and so on, so we thought we’d write an article about it.

(Many thanks to Tiffany Carter for helping us work through the Spanish-language legalese; her translation skills were invaluable.)

Please note, this is our interpretation of Spanish law and our understanding after having spoken to someone authoritative in Spanish law, however the following should not be considered definitive legal advice, and while some of the robbers in Barcelona deserve a good smacking, we don’t officially condone the use of violence.

With that out of the way, let’s start:

Items (or imitations of them) that are illegal to make, import, circulate, advertise, sell, possess or use are:

  • All sorts of firearms, such as those… adapted without proper authorization; hidden within walking sticks; that are made to look like other objects; semi-automatic weapons, etc.
  • Swords, daggers and switch knives (unless you’re part of special authorized entities, which we take to mean reenactment groups, for example).
  • Air or compressed gas guns, with or without daggers attached.
  • “Electrical weapons” (such as tasers), or electrical truncheons (apparently they’re legal in Andorra though).
  • Tonfas, or similar devices made of rubber.
  • Dum-dum bullets, hollow-pointed bullets, and missiles. (The latter would be particularly impressive on Las Ramblas of a Saturday night!)
  • Lead or steel truncheons/billy clubs, flails and maces (double ball flail, double ball mace, slungshot, et al.); brass knuckles with or without spikes; sophisticated slingshots and blowguns; nunchaku (nunchucks) and shuriken (throwing stars), together with any other instruments that may inflict serious physical injury upon the victim.

On to sprays. Read the following sentence fully. Sprays are illegal, as are all devices that fire gases or aerosols, together with any devices that include a mechanism capable of projecting narcotics, toxins or corrosives; however personal defense sprays are allowed if they are of a type permitted by the Spanish ministry of health and carried by someone over the age of 18 (who must be able to prove their age using an identity card, passport or residence permit). The law goes on to state that these self-defense sprays are of the type most typically found in “armerias” (specialist shops).

Let’s simplify that statement: Defensive sprays are allowed provided they are owned by those over 18 years of age and are one of the types authorized. In practice, the ones that are sold in “armerias” are all legal.

Defensive sprays tend to cause involuntary eye closure, abundant tears, dilation of the pupils and itching of the eyes and mouth.

It is of course legal to carry a firearm in Spain if the owner has a license, but the weapon must be concealed and made safe (unloaded).

Here’s an important point and one you ought to be aware of. Regarding the right to self-defense in Spain using a weapon: even if the weapon is legal, for example a gun held by a person in possession of a license, or a personal defense spray, the use of the weapon can be illegal if it’s not proportional to the menace the user seeks to avoid.

There are some instances where weapons mentioned as illegal above can be kept legally in museum collections, or as part of home ornamental collections.

If anyone wants to investigate the specifics (though you’ll need a firm grasp of the Spanish language), please read here.

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23 Responses to The Legality of Self-Defense Weapons in Spain. The Definitive Post.

  1. Neil Dawes on January 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Interesting post, thanks. Any chance of posting a few real life examples of people being sued / penalized / tried in courts for self defence or apprehending a mugger in Spain (or preferably, Barcelona?

    Many times I’ve seen a mugger / robber running away from their victims with loot in hand and every time I debate with myself whether I should tackle them or not. I’d have no problems “having a go” if I knew that the law and courts would be on my side if I somehow accidentally caused some harm to the perpetrator(s) whilst tackling them.

  2. […] have diligently posted about the relevant sections of Spanish law as it applies to potential victims and their rights and laws they need to be aware […]

  3. ThePaganSun on April 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Ummm…I heard that firearms are all illegal (unless you’re an official or something) but rather hunting guns are not provided you have a license. : /

  4. Gerald Deavers on September 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Hi, I read in Euro Weekly News Costa Blanca about two incidents, one a man of 26 was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman, and her husband was also arrested for beating the aggressor unconscious; the other was where a Chinese merchant was arrested when he attacked with a stick two men robbing his wife, unclear if it was just a stick or a more dangerous weapon. I guess the moral here is to know when to stop your response to an attack.

  5. Santiago on June 29, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Great topic as I’m headed there in July and am planning on carrying a small single sided fold up pocket knife. I doubt I will need to use it but if cornered by a robber with a weapon I will not hesitate, especially if my family is present. From what I’ve heard it appears that no matter what if you get into a dispute you will be arrested regardless of weapon. I’m in the agreement that it appears you should use just enough force to get your possessions back and that’s it if you’re robbed. In the case of the man’s wife being assaulted, I would have been arrested too :)

    I am particularly concerned about young female kidnappings for sex trafficking. Is that a common thing to worry about with my daughter?

  6. jose on July 29, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Hi,

    I know Spain has different applicable laws to certain situations dependent on location. Ie whether such matters take place in public or in the privacy of ones own home – possession of drugs for example.

    Any thoughts on how the law would apply if attacked on private property / whilst in ones own home?

    • Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Not exactly, in Spain if you break the law, it is the same wether you are at home or in a public place.
      The issue with drugs is that the law even without allowing possesion will not charge you for very small amounts because comsumption is not penalized. Therefore if you are caught at home with just a bit of cocaine, you might say that you were about to take it and get away with it.
      But if you are found at home or wherever, with several small doses of any drug, you will be charged with trafficking.

  7. Diversion safes on August 7, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Appreciating the dedication you put into your site and detailed information you provide.
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  8. nurvx2 on January 11, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Do you know if Blank Firing Firearms (guns that only fire blanks) is legal in spain?

  9. nurvx2 on January 11, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Because I want to get one, but since gas pistols are illegal I was wondering..

  10. info@animalcharter.com on March 10, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Spanish Justice and legal enforcement in Spain is subjective as anyone who has had the misfortune to get involved in a just cause knows all about. It depends on who is interpreting and whether the enforcement agent or Magistrate likes you or not. It also depends on the quality of the lawyers many of whom go whichever way suits them and their job best.
    The best way to approach the matter is to read the law yourself or get a friend who likes doing these things to do it for you. If it is not ambiguous like most of these things are, you then have a line of approach. I have read verdicts and examined cases meticulously and seen how incredible many of these are. There is a tendency to think in preconceived terms and then try and fit everything to suit that preconception – again it depends on the quality of the people administering justice or law. My advice is as above but additionally don´t get involved in anything, however right you may be, that puts you in the dock. Ask around and you will be surprised to find out what has happened to whom. It is not surprising that even your lawyer will tell you that the jails are full of innocent people in the main.

    • Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      True, but tell me where in the world the law is not subjetive.
      Here in the US is the same.
      There is a big difference depending on who you are. A lot of people are over the law.
      You can see a recent example with certain well known person that actually is the democratic POTUS candidate …

  11. Jack K Warner on December 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    My question, the same like ”Do you know if Blank Firing Firearms (guns that only fire blanks) is legal in Spain?”
    This kind of handgun-only fire blanks-can in fact be brought free in Spain-but where may I find the legal matter to
    use this kind for protection- I do have a automatic pistol loaded with blanks. I know I have the right to keep it in may
    place of residence, but may I protect my self….where are the legal rights…..

    • Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Blank firing guns are legal to own at your home or place of residence in Spain. Illegal to carry them un the street. You better do not kill anybody in Spain and claim self defense. It does not matter wether you kill an intruder in your home or a mugger in the street.
      Under Spanish law self defense is considered an “affirmative defense” to 1st. degree murder, and that is exactly what you will be charged for : 1st. Degree murder. That means 25 years in jail, but you might get out on parole after serving 1/3 of them.
      In order to get away with that, and avoid jail time, self defense must comply with the following requirements :

      1 ) Lack of previous provocation : you must be absolutely innocent and have not provoked in any way the other guy that you are defending from, that means that you have not triggered the agression in any manner. Even calling him some nice word previously would be considered provocation.

      2 ) Actuality : you can only defend yourself while you are being attacked, once the guy is fleeing, you are not defending yourself.

      3 ) Equality of force : You must defend yourself with the same degree of force that is being applied to you or, whenever possible, even less. This means : pistol against pistol, knife or cub against knife … if they attack you with a knife and you use a firearm … you will be put in jail.

      4 ) Real danger of life : Only if the aggresion posses a real danger for your life you can self defend. Protection of property does not justify by itself the action of self defense.
      What’s more : Spanish law only authorizes the police to act in the defense or third parties …. you can only defend yourself, not your wife or your child.
      Ashaming … isn’t it ?.
      If you manage to comply with all those 4 requirements, you will get away with it in Spain.

  12. Lucy R on January 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Hi. would any one happen to know if the personal defence stain sprays are illegal in spain? they are not pepper spray and more release a ink (like banks with the ink dye) which just dye the skin of a would be attacker?

    • Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      No personal defense stain spray has yet been approved by spanish ministry of health. Only approved sprays can be bought and carried.

  13. terry on March 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Am planning a trip to Barcelona and would like to take my daily concealed carry weapon for personal protection of course. Is it possible for an American to get a permit for concealed carry in Barcelona? I understand the repercussions of use of said weapon but I would prefer to be a live prisoner as opposed to a dead tourist. And NO ONE would get away with assaulting my Wife, sexualy or otherwise, jail or not.

    • Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      No way, unless you are a LEO in official duty, or a diplomatic representative.
      If you want to risk 5 years in jail you will be better off going to Andorra, buying a .44 muzzleloading revolver, ( no license or registration needed to buy that there ), and packing that around.
      However I strongly advise not to do it, because if you are caught, US law will consider a felony commited overseas the same as one commited here …. that means that you loose your CCW along with all your gun rights.
      Spain is a lot safer than the US. The bigger problem could be the pickpockets in the public transportation, so just get a taxi.
      You are very unlikely to face an assault with a gun, even with a knife … and in that case, pepper sprays are legal in Spain.

    • Brad on November 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      No way. Completely illigal in spain.

  14. 0000000 on August 17, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Speak to the American Embassy about carrying defense and Barcelona is terrible for muggings and I do mean terrible, they’re living on their wits, be careful it can be a bit like the wild west at night, also they tend to work in gangs like surrounding you when crossing the road or following you for a while until you’re more vulnerable. sometimes you will see two guys wandering around looking about and you just know they’re looking at bags and wallets and phones they don’t even hide it. Ive watched them. Problem is the Spanish police have to be right there to catch them. Take a fake wallet with a ten dollar bill in it and a pizza card or something. leave your other money else where. Also clue up your family about evenings and about getting followed, all I ever hear is “Who wants to walk around on edge like that all the time, I had a mate just like that, right up until he got mugged back in the hotel lobby by two guys who’d followed him home from a restaurant, (Not even a bar) and in the hotel lobby!!! naaaah, youre right to think that way, it tends to be in the centre of town and some outskirts its not that bad elsewhere.

  15. Rafael on September 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Hello, I have decided to clarify some points as some of the things being said are not exactly true, and it seems that no one can throw real light into the issue.
    First of all : I live in Colorado, I have a CCW, and I pack heat daily. My EDC also includes a fox labs pepper spray so I am quite concerned about self defense.
    Aside from that, Spain is my home Country. I was born there, raised there, and lived there for 45 years, until I decided I was up for a change and pursued more liberty.
    This said, I owned several firearms in Spain, all of them legally, and yes, you can own a lot of goodies there, in fact I owned rifles, ( yes, semiautos too and “assault type too ), shotguns, handguns, bows, crossbows, airguns, swords, knifes and more.
    The main issue in Spain is not owning is carrying it in the street.
    Let’s start with the basics :
    All guns are licensed and registered with the police, ( Guardia Civil ), every gun is issued a document called “guía de pertenencia”, ( owner’s certificate ), that must go with the gun at all times.
    Every time you carry a gun you must have with you your license and “guía de pertenencia”. The “guía de pertenencia” is specific to that particular gun, the license covers the type of the gun. You must obtain a license for every type of gun that you want to own. License types are :
    – Type A : Military and Police only, allows the ownership of a handgun of any caliber and allows carrying it fully loaded and ready to go in the street.
    – Type B : is like a CCW in the US, but unless you are a Politician, a Celebrity, a gun dealer, or have a really good friend where you should have it … forget about it. It would be easier from you to get it in New York City that in Spain. That said, such license allows their holder the same rights as a type A.
    – Type S : only for security personell, allows them to carry their duty weapons, ( usually a 4″ .38 revolver or a 9 mm semiauto ), but only while on duty. After work guns must be left in security safes at their workplace.
    – Type F : Sporting. Allows possesion, but not street carry of 1, 6 or 10 handguns depending of your shooters category. You must belong to a shooting club, ( around $600/year ), and participate in matches. The score that you achieve in those matches will determine your category and thus the number of handguns that you can own.
    A 3rd category will be the one that scores less than 450 points over 500 possible, a second category would score up to 480 and a first one from 481 to 500.
    Scores achieved must be done at least once a year in an official match.
    Handguns can only be carried back and forth from the range, unloaded, in a case, and separated from their ammo.
    – Rifle license : given to almost anybody who can show a good reason, ( posession of a hunting license is enough ). Allows you as many rifles as you want. However, you must have an approved model safe to keep them.
    You may have as many rifles and safes as you can afford. Handguns must also be kept on a safe, obviously only approved safe models are authorized.
    Rifles can only be carried back and forth from the field or the shooting range unloaded, in a locked case, and with the smmo apart.
    Shooting rifles in the field when it is not big game hunting season is prohibited.
    -Shotgun License : everything I have said for the rifles applies also to shotguns, except that they are limited in number to a maximun of 6, ( nobody knows why but that is the way it is ), and no safe is necessary.
    – Muzzleloaders : a especific license for muzzleloaders is needed to purchase, posess and use them. You can own as many as you want, handguns, rifles or shotguns, of any caliber without restrictions. Street carry is prohibited. Target shooting in approved ranges is permitted. Hunting with muzzleloaders is also permited, but not with handguns . Handgun hunting in Spain with ANY TYPE of handgun is prohibited.
    – Airguns : No license needed to buy or own if they are less than 24 Joules in power. Otherwise they would be considered shotguns and licensed as such.
    No caliber restriction as long as they do not exceed those 24 joules.
    Airguns under 24 joules can be freely possesed at your home. Street carry forbidden. If you want to use them outside your home you need a license from the City you live in, ( just a matter of paying the fee ).
    Airguns cannot be used in the field, only in an approved target range. Hunting with airguns is prohibited.
    – 22 rimfire rifles : fall under the shotgun license, you can have up to a maximum of 6. That means 6 shotguns + 6 22 rifles.
    Hunting with .22 rimfire is prohibited. You can only use them for target shooting and only in approved shooting ranges.
    -Crossbows : The same as 22 rimfire rifles, shotgun license, but no limit. You may have as many as you want. Hunting with crossbows is permitted.
    – Bows : no license required, you must be over 18 and be affiliated to the bow shooting federation to purchase one but not to possess one. Funny thing thou. Bow hunting is permitted.
    – Knifes, swords, blow guns, cubs, nunchakus, brass knukles, italian stilettos and things of the like : permitted. No license necessary to buy or own, but only in your home. No street carry.
    Martial arts weapons are permitted to carry locked in a case to and from the gym where you practice.
    -Carrying a small folding pocket knife in the street : generally allowed if the blade is under 3″. However depends on the criteria of the cop that catches you to determine wether he thinks is legal or not. Anyway if he thinks he is not legal, he will only take it, and sometimes give you a small fine. You won’t be jailed for that.
    – Pepper sprays : legal to buy, posess and carry in the street. But ONLY those sold in Spain, ( quite a weak formula ), you can buy them at any gun shop or well stocked sports shop. You can refill the spanish canister with some decent stuff and no one would know …
    Blank guns : front firing blank guns are LEGAL in Spain. No license or registration is needed for persons over 18. Street carry of a blank gun is prohibited. They will consider it just the same as carrying a real firearm : 5 years in jail.
    Blank firing guns can fire tear gas cartridges, ( I can assure those are pretty effective and I wonder why we cannot have them here in the US ). Tear gas cartridges for blank guns are illegal in Spain, and thus impossible to find in legal commerce. However, if you visit Andorra, ( a small independent Country just north of Spain, between Spain and France ), you can buy as many as you want. They are legal there.
    Andorra has also some interesting gun laws : no license required to buy or carry in the street blank or gas firing guns,( they are the same, just depends on the ammo you load on them ), all sorts of really strong, ( more than in the US ), OC and CS sprays are legal to own and carry, muzzleloading pistols and rifles need no license or registration to be bought … rimfire or centerfire rifles and shotguns can also be bought with no license by anyone, … no background checks. Only “real”, ( not blank firing )centerfire pistols need a license in Andorra.
    Definitely, Andorra is worth visiting … and they have great ski resorts too !!!.

    Hope this has been of some help.

  16. Denny h on October 12, 2016 at 12:29 am

    is a mini police baton legal to carry in Spain?

  17. Denny H on October 12, 2016 at 12:30 am

    is mini police baton legal in spain ?

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