Pennsylvania Expandable Baton Laws

by Andy
(Harrisburg, PA)

In Pennsylvania some police consider expandable batons illegal. I have 2 friends that had charges filed against them by local police saying they are on the list of prohibited offensive weapons. After looking at the PA prohibited offensive weapons laws I found that there is no direct mention of batons, but blackjacks are listed. I also spoke with my local police and they were unsure as to the legality of carrying the expandable batons. They suggest that I speak with the district attorney to find out if they are truly illegal. I posted the PA Offensive Weapon Laws
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Below.


§ 908. Prohibited offensive weapons.
(a) Offense defined.--A person commits a misdemeanor of the
first degree if, except as authorized by law, he makes repairs,
sells, or otherwise deals in, uses, or possesses any offensive
weapon.
(b) Exceptions.--
(1) It is a defense under this section for the defendant
to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he possessed or
dealt with the weapon solely as a curio or in a dramatic
performance, or that, with the exception of a bomb, grenade
or incendiary device, he complied with the National Firearms
Act (26 U.S.C. § 5801 et seq.), or that he possessed it
briefly in consequence of having found it or taken it from an
aggressor, or under circumstances similarly negativing any
intent or likelihood that the weapon would be used
unlawfully.
(2) This section does not apply to police forensic
firearms experts or police forensic firearms laboratories.
Also exempt from this section are forensic firearms experts
or forensic firearms laboratories operating in the ordinary
course of business and engaged in lawful operation who notify
in writing, on an annual basis, the chief or head of any
police force or police department of a city, and, elsewhere,
the sheriff of a county in which they are located, of the
possession, type and use of offensive weapons.
(3) This section shall not apply to any person who
makes, repairs, sells or otherwise deals in, uses or
possesses any firearm for purposes not prohibited by the laws
of this Commonwealth.
(c) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection:
"Firearm." Any weapon which is designed to or may readily be
converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive
or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.
"Offensive weapons." Any bomb, grenade, machine gun, sawed-
off shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, firearm specially
made or specially adapted for concealment or silent discharge,
any blackjack, sandbag, metal knuckles, dagger, knife, razor or
cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an
automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or
otherwise, any stun gun, stun baton, taser or other electronic
or electric weapon or other implement for the infliction of
serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.
(d) Exemptions.--The use and possession of blackjacks by the
following persons in the course of their duties are exempt from
this section:
(1) Police officers, as defined by and who meet the
requirements of the act of June 18, 1974 (P.L.359, No.120),
referred to as the Municipal Police Education and Training
Law.
(2) Police officers of first class cities who have
successfully completed training which is substantially
equivalent to the program under the Municipal Police
Education and Training Law.
(3) Pennsylvania State Police officers.
(4) Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the various counties
who have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal
Police Education and Training Law.
(5) Police officers employed by the Commonwealth who
have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal
Police Education and Training Law.
(6) Deputy sheriffs with adequate training as determined
by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
(7) Liquor Control Board agents who have satisfactorily
met the requirements of the Municipal Police Education and
Training Law.
(Dec. 20, 1983, P.L.291, No.78, eff. imd.; July 6, 1984,
P.L.647, No.134, eff. 90 days; July 11, 1985, P.L.235, No.58,
eff. 60 days; Oct. 4, 1994, P.L.571, No.84, eff. 60 days; Nov.
6, 2002, P.L.1096, No.132, eff. 60 days)

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If I understand this correctly it is stating that it is only illegal to carry these devices if you intend to use them in an offensive form. If you carry them for self defense with no intention to use them than they would be considered legal. Pennsylvania laws on self defense devices seems to be very confusing and getting in trouble seems to depend on officers interpretation of the law.

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Dec 28, 2010
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The Pennsylvania Expandable Baton Law is a Bad Law
by: Anonymous

As a person who has never broken the law, I feel that a person should be able to carry a weapon like the expandable baton in Pennsylvania to help protect themselves. It seems to be that law enforcement is more afraid of being hurt than worrying about the good people being hurt. We as Americans have every right to protect ourselves by whatever means, period.

Hello,
Thanks for the comment. I agree that one should be able to carry an expandable baton in Pennsylvania and everywhere, but like so many other items that are categorized as weapons they can get you in more trouble than they are worth. I keep one in my car and in my home, but never carry it on me when I am out of those two locations. I do carry a Taser which is legal in Pennsylvania and can be very effective for self defense.

Andy

Feb 01, 2011
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Expandable Baton Laws In Pennsylvania.
by: Anonymous

I have been carrying a baton now for a little over a year and a half. As a person living in a big city and who walks everywhere self defense plays a big role in my life, and i have only ever taken it out twice with the intention of using it. 90% of the time just the sight of the baton stops the attacker which makes it aces in my book. I havent been stopped by the police on it yet. I do often worry about it. The way I see it is I would rather be tried by twelve then carried out by six. No stupid law is worth my well being and safety.

Feb 24, 2011
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Legality
by: Radar

I sent an email to the Attorney General's office over a year ago and they said they know of no such restrictions for batons being banned in Pennsylvania.

Despite this one company with which I'm still furious with is BudK, who refuses to ship batons to Pennsylvania as they state due to information they receive from every state's Attorney General the baton is illegial for PA.

I called them on that a week ago, even sending them the email from the Attorney General's office that I had received. In addition to that, I've send them links to companies like Smokey Mountain Knife Works and Sportsman's Guide that will sell batons to Pennsylvania but restrict their sell to other states due to legality. I have yet to hear back from them since. Any resolution to this problem, I'd be more than happy to hear.

Dec 01, 2012
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Let's get somethings straight
by: Anonymous

If you want something "non-lethal" for self defense get some OC (pepper) spray or a civilian model Tazer.

If you are not worried about the possibility and responsibility of having to use lethal force then take a training course (not required but highly recommended) and get a carry permit and a handgun.

The reason that batons are considered prohibitive weapons (same category as black-jacks and brass knuckles) is because they can be highly concealable, make no noise, and have a great potential for causing serious bodily injury and or death. In law enforcement use expandable batons are classified as a less-lethal option, NOT a non-lethal force option. There is a reason that law enforcement officers or anyone that carries an expandable baton in the line of performing there work duties must go thru a training and certification process to carry one and must periodically (every couple of years) get re-certified. This is so they are trained how to effectively use the baton without seriously injuring of killing someone.

In response to the poster who left the following comment.

"As a person who has never broken the law, I feel that a person should be able to carry a weapon like the expandable baton in Pennsylvania to help protect themselves. It seems to be that law enforcement is more afraid of being hurt than worrying about the good people being hurt. We as Americans have every right to protect ourselves by whatever means, period."

Thank you for being a good citizen and not breaking laws. However you need to remember there are many people out there who have and do break laws and by giving those individuals the ability to "legally" carry around an item like a baton you have just given them another way to intimidate, hurt, or kill someone.

to be continued...

Dec 01, 2012
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set straight (continued)
by: Anonymous

...continued

In regards to your final statement every American should then also have the right to own, posses, and carry around: sawed-off shotguns, Fully automatic sub-machine guns, rifles, machine-guns, grenades, grenade launchers, rocket propelled grenades, bazookas, rocket launchers, flame-throwers, incendiary devices, C-4, other types of explosives, and any other types of implements of destruction. Well guess what its a two way street if you can get, posses, and carry them; then so can the people who don't have good and honest intentions.

Also when you say "It seems to be that law enforcement is more afraid of being hurt than worrying about the good people being hurt."
Damn right Law Enforcement Officers are afraid of being hurt but the risk of being hurt or killed is a risk they take everyday to protect YOU! There have been 112 LEO deaths nation wide in 2012 so far, 174 in 2011, 173 in 2010, 139 in 2009, 152 in 2008, 201 in 2007. That is 951 men and women in the last 5 years that will NEVER see their families again because they died protecting YOU and all the other "good people from being hurt." So next time; before you start making conjectures about what it seems like Law Enforcement Officers are afraid of or worry about remember that 951 men and women who laid down there lives for you because they were worried about you.

Nov 13, 2013
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Let get it straight with a dose of reality
by: Anonymous

Beginning with the fact that I have the utmost respect for those who choose the path of a law enforcement officer, I must vehemently disagree with the post above. The tragedy of the loss of 940 some lives of LEO's over the past half decade is FAR outweighed by the more than 67,500 civilians who were murdered during the same period. The number murdered by non-weaponed assailants alone (hands, fists, feet, etc) numbers 2,953 or more than 3 times the total number of LEO's by all means combined.

Now had some of those nearly 3000 victims been allowed to carry some form of 'less lethal' personal protection, say a weapon that cannot 'accidentially' discharge, or overshoot it's intended target and thus poses no risk to innocent bystanders, perhaps they would still be here.

I seriously doubt that police officers are at risk from someone who brandishes a baton at them. Any citizen so doing would simply be shot, and deservedly so (hopefully with a tazer, but as circumstances might dictate)

The notion that making such weapons, (as well as any other) legal would make them available to the criminals as well is patently absurd too. We all know the criminals already carry them. They are used to commit the roughly 12,000 murders a year of non LEO's. The street thugs we are talking about defending ourselves from here don't have concealed carry permits. Their guns aren't registered. The knives, blackjacks, batons, bats, they carry aren't allowed by the law.. and yet they have them.

The only ones effectively disarmed by the law are the law abiding, making them yet easier targets. I have no desire to make a police officer's job more difficult, but I have less desire to put my life at risk to make his simpler.

I'm sorry that it wouldn't be the case that anyone carrying a weapons could automatically be classified as a criminal. I'm sorry that police would actually have to let some people they know are likely bad people go because they have a weapon, but haven't actually committed a crime against anyone yet. That sucks. Too bad.

Making your job easier isn't my job. And putting my life at higher risk both by not allowing me to defend myself and by letting criminals know I am unarmed is not the way to keep LEO deaths to a nice 1.3% of all murders in the country.

The law is wrong. It's morally wrong (it violates my rights). It's legally wrong (it violates the 2nd ammendment), It's counterproductive (it creates more crime rather than reduces it), It is offensive to any rationally thinking agent.

Nov 22, 2013
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Let's get the facts straight...
by: Anonymous

Cops don't protect people 98% of the time in an attack. You just show up after the fact to cleanup. As I see it, law abiding citizens without criminal records should be allowed to carry a baton, a gun, or whatever to protect themselves against the criminals out there. Laws will never keep weapons out of the hands of criminals so that argument is dead, drop it. If you are a cop and feel that good citizens should not be allowed to protect themselves with a weapon then you should not be allowed to protect yourself with one either. Just because you are a cop doesn't mean your life is worth more than mine. Don't even try to argue that either.

Shannon

Feb 28, 2015
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Why I carry - Expandable Baton
by: G

I carry an asp concealed when walking my dog for the sole purpose of fending off an off-lead aggressive animal, usually another dog. Just about every week you read of some unsuspecting poor sole who with good intentions is walking his dog on a leash and an unrestrained dog attacks with death or serious injury the result. I know many who carry a sturdy stick but a holstered asp keeps one hand free until it is needed.

Legal? To my knowledge it is not specifically outlawed. Is a heavy wrench in my pocket illegal?

Never stopped (knock on wood). My defense would be that I was asp certified before retiring as a LEO and that the carry purpose is to protect my dog and myself if attacked. I carry no money when walking my dog and perhaps the dog is a robbery deterrent but if robbery or knockout game is my concern I'll carry my legally owned firearm for which I have a concealed firearms permit.

Would welcome any new info on this, as of 2015.

Sep 24, 2015
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Law is unfair!
by: Don Knecht

Why can I carry a registered pistol to actually take a life, but am not permitted to carry a stun baton to ward of mean dogs in my area. I don't want to kill anyone's dog, but on the same token I don't I don't want to be chewed up by a pit bull or a rottweiler. Let's be real, where do my rights set in? Would you rather we kill our neighbors pets, or just slow them down. You tell me! Don Knecht.

Oct 14, 2015
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Local discretion it seems.
by: Anonymous

Since I know the Director of Public Safety in my township as well as the Chief of our small town department I asked them their opinion on this.
I will preface this with the knowledge that both these law enforcement officials know I was LEO at one point in my life and fully trained on the use of these as well as many other means of self defense/CBQ. I state this as it may have slanted their answer to my case specifically, but it did not seem to in my view.
I happened to be meeting with these two chief officers for some emergency management planning and posed the question to them as part of the discussion. I asked if there was a specific law that forbid the carry of an expandable baton by a civilian for purely defensive purposes.
Both told me at nearly the same time that there was no law on the books in PA that they were aware of that would stop you from defending yourself with an expandable baton.
The township director also stated that he has a standing order with all township departments that if the person also possess a LTCF (License To Carry Firearms) they should not be questioned about the baton or detained for having an expandable baton as they are carrying it for the same reason a police officer does as an escalation of force if needed to meet the threat.
Our small community chief is also a retired PSP Trooper and stated that as far he knows this is a very similar way the PSP operates.
Both did however; make the distinction that if you commit a crime with it in your possession, or you use it as an offensive weapon (You instigate the incident with your baton) it would be a Class 1 Felony Assault/Battery case and you would fry for it.
This seems to be the consensus of many of my personal friends that also LEO's in the Western part of PA. I am not a lawyer, so I would say check with your local township and/or police department to get their perspective on it.

Dec 30, 2015
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Criminals Don't Care
by: Anonymous

You can pass all the laws you want but a criminal don't give a flying rip about them...thats why they are criminals. Laws only restrict those who obey them.

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