U.S. Batons Laws

The following is a comprehensive compilation of the laws on civilian carry of batons, also called nightsticks or billy clubs, in each state of the US. The baton is a roughly cylindrical club weapon used predominately by law enforcement, corrections and security personnel as a less-than-lethal measure. This includes three major variants:
  • Straight stick - The oldest and simplest form, this is simply a stick 1-3 feet long, usually made of one material and having a grip at one or both ends. Some are formed to have a tapering shape so that more weight is at the striking end.
  • Side-handled - A design based approximately on the Japanese tonfa, this is a cylinder with a second handle perpendicular to the main shaft located above the grip. Sometimes called a "PR-24," though this is a commercial model name that simply fell into popular use.
  • Expandable - Also called a telescopic baton, this type consists of 2 or 3 shafts that slide into one another to reduce its size when not in use. Mechanisms vary; some lock open with friction, some use a ball-bearing system, and some are spring-loaded. Sometimes called an ASP, but this is actually the name of a company that makes a popular product line.

    Legend for this List

    • Legal - Carry is permitted either explicitly or any restriction is completely absent.
    • Illegal - Explicitly prohibited.
    • Vague - Law contains ambiguous language and no case law or Attorney General decision exists. See Comment.
    • With CHP - If having Concealed Handgun Permit affects legality (actual name of a firearm carry permit varies by state)
    • Other Permit - If a permit or certification other than a CHP can be obtained to carry.

    NOTE: This list covers carry by people who are neither law enforcement nor corrections officers, in public places away from one's home, and does not cover carry on school property, government property, airports, or military installations. This list also does not cover local laws at the county or city level.

    StateOpen CarryConcealed CarryWith CHPOther PermitComment
    AlaskaLegalLegal (21+ years old)N/AN/A
    ArizonaLegalLegal (21+ years old)N/AN/A
    ArkansasVagueVagueYesYesTechnically only illegal "with a purpose to employ as a weapon against a person"
    ConnecticutIllegalIllegalNoNoOn duty security guards may carry a baton.
    District of ColumbiaLegalVagueNoNoIllegal to conceal "any deadly or dangerous weapon." Similar cases suggest general hostility to carry.
    HawaiiIllegalIllegalNoNoFish bats don't count, unless carried as a weapon
    IdahoLegalVagueYesNoIllegal to conceal any "deadly weapon," but doesn't apply outside a city if 18+ years old or on private property with owner's permission.
    IllinoisVagueVagueNo?Illegal to carry a billy "with intent to use the same unlawfully against another" or in a government building
    IowaLegalVagueYesNoIllegal to conceal any "dangerous weapon," which is very broadly applicable
    KansasLegalIllegalNoNoIllegal to conceal a "billy."
    LouisianaLegalVagueNoNoIllegal to conceal any "instrumentality customarily used or intended for probable use as a dangerous weapon"
    MarylandLegalVagueYesNoCould be a "dangerous or deadly weapon," but isn't named explicitly. Law has self-defense provision. Similar cases suggest state must prove criminal intent.
    MassachusettsLegalLegalN/AN/AOnly prohibited when arrested on a warrant or during a breach of peace
    MichiganVagueVagueNoNoIllegal to carry with intent to use unlawfully against another "any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument"
    MinnesotaVagueVagueNoNoIllegal to possess any "dangerous article or substance for the purpose of being used unlawfully as a weapon against another"
    MissouriLegalVagueYesNoIllegal to conceal "any other weapon readily capable of lethal use"
    NebraskaLegalVagueNoNoIllegal to conceal "any other deadly weapon," but burden lies with the state. Law has self-defense provision.
    NevadaIllegalIllegalNoYesCan obtain written permission from the county sheriff
    New HampshireLegalLegalN/AN/A
    New JerseyIllegalIllegalNoYesGuards with CHP and training certification are permitted to carry
    New MexicoVagueVagueYesNoIllegal to carry "any other type of deadly weapon"
    New YorkIllegalIllegalNoNo
    North CarolinaLegalVagueNoNo
    North DakotaLegalIllegalYesNo
    OklahomaIllegalIllegalNoNoNo exception noted for private security
    PennsylvaniaVagueVagueNoNoIllegal to possess "other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose." Case law indicates self-defense is not a "common lawful purpose."
    Rhode IslandIllegalIllegalNoNoNo exception noted for private security
    South CarolinaLegalVagueNoNoIllegal to conceal "a deadly weapon usually used for the infliction of personal injury"
    South DakotaLegalLegalN/AN/A
    TexasIllegalIllegalNoYesSome exceptions for trained or certified security officers
    VirginiaLegalVagueSpring-loaded baton is illegal, but could possibly be extended to any "weapon of like kind"
    WashingtonLegalVagueNoNoIllegal to conceal "other dangerous weapon"
    West VirginiaLegalLegalN/AN/A
    WyomingLegalVagueYesNoIllegal to conceal a "deadly weapon"

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