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.