Legal and Ethical Considerations when using Less-Lethal Weapons


Please be advised that Byrna and its staff members are not legal experts and this opinion should not be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein is intended to be a general overview of the subject and is based on the opinions of professionals in the field of self-defence.

It is essential to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in self-defence laws for personalized legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Therefore, it is critical to seek current and accurate legal guidance from a qualified professional.



  1. When considering the use of less-lethal products, such as Byrna for self-defence, it is essential to be aware of both the legal and ethical considerations surrounding their use.

  2. From a legal standpoint, the use of less-lethal weapons must comply with local laws. It is crucial to understand the legal parameters governing the possession, carry, and deployment of such devices, including any licensing requirements and restrictions.

  3. Byrna products are not classified as firearms and therefore you don’t need a license or permit to own.

  4. Using less-lethal products must always be proportionate to the perceived threat.

  5. Individuals should be aware of the potential legal consequences if their actions are deemed excessive or unjustified in by using force.

When is the use of force justified?

  • The use of force is only justified when there is an immediate and imminent threat to your life or the life of another person.

Example when force can be applied:
An individual is walking in a park when a stranger suddenly attacks them with
the intent to harm. In self-defense, the individual uses physical force, such as
striking the attacker or using personal defense tools to protect themselves from
harm and escape the dangerous situation.

Example when force can not be applied:
An individual jumps the fence to make use of a shortcut with no malicious

  • it should be a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

What other options do I have?

  • Verbal De-Escalation: In many situations, communication can diffuse tension and prevent a physical confrontation. Use verbal techniques to calm the situation, express your boundaries, and attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully.

  • Personal Alarm: Carrying a personal alarm or whistle can be an effective way to attract attention and deter an attacker. Activating a loud alarm can alert others to your distress and may cause the aggressor to flee.

  • Escape: If possible, remove yourself from the threatening situation. Create distance between yourself and the aggressor and seek a safe location. Running away can be an effective means of self-preservation.

What possible factors will the court focus on when force was used?

  • The need for the application of force.

  • The relationship of that was needed and the amount of force that was used.

  • The extent of the injury inflicted.

  • Whether the force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain and restore discipline or maliciously/sadistically for the purpose of causing harm.


On the ethical front, responsible use of less-lethal products demands a commitment to non-violence and a genuine intent to protect oneself or others without causing unnecessary harm.

It is vital to use these tools as a last resort, whenever possible, and to prioritize de-escalation and conflict resolution techniques when confronted with potential threats.

Ethical self-defence involves a respect for human life and a conscientious effort to minimize harm while ensuring personal safety.

Additionally, people should be prepared to face the emotional and psychological consequences in self-defence, as causing serious bodily harm or death can be a deeply traumatic experience.