State Baton 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.

The following items are distinct from batons and will NOT be covered in this list to avoid confusion:

  • Blackjack - Also called a slapjack, sap, or cosh, blackjacks are short, mostly rigid club weapons consisting of a heavy metal weight enclosed in a covering, usually leather but sometimes other materials such as cloth, woven rope or plastic.
  • Slungshot - A broad term for a heavy weighted object at the end of a flexible chain, rope, cloth or leather pouch. While similar to blackjacks in basic principle, the shaft is flexible enough for the item to be rolled up and stored. Sometimes called a "sand club" or "sand bag" in legal contexts. Not to be confused with a slingshot, which is a projectile weapon using rubber bands.
  • Knuckles - Sometimes called knucks, these consist of a rigid item with holes for the fingers that, when held with a closed fist, present a hardened or even spiked surface across the knuckles to cause more damage with punches.
  • Nunchaku - also called numchucks, nunchaku are a martial arts weapon consisting of two cylinders joined by a rope, strap or chain.
  • Yawara/Kubotan/Pocket-stick - Short cylinder held in the fist that is used for hammer-fist strikes and pressure points.

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.

State Open Carry Concealed Carry With CHP Other Permit Comment
Alabama Legal Legal N/A N/A
Alaska Legal Legal (21+ years old) N/A N/A
Arizona Legal Legal (21+ years old) N/A N/A
Arkansas Vague Vague Yes Yes Technically only illegal "with a purpose to employ as a weapon against a person"
California Illegal Illegal No Yes
Colorado Legal Legal N/A N/A
Connecticut Illegal Illegal No No On duty security guards may carry a baton.
Delaware Legal Illegal Yes No
District of Columbia Legal Vague No No Illegal to conceal "any deadly or dangerous weapon." Similar cases suggest general hostility to carry.
Florida Legal Illegal Yes No
Georgia Legal Legal N/A N/A
Hawaii Illegal Illegal No No Fish bats don't count, unless carried as a weapon
Idaho Legal Vague Yes No Illegal to conceal any "deadly weapon," but doesn't apply outside a city if 18+ years old or on private property with owner's permission.
Illinois Vague Vague No ? Illegal to carry a billy "with intent to use the same unlawfully against another" or in a government building
Indiana Legal Legal N/A N/A
Iowa Legal Vague Yes No Illegal to conceal any "dangerous weapon," which is very broadly applicable
Kansas Legal Illegal No No Illegal to conceal a "billy."
Kentucky Legal Illegal Yes No
Louisiana Legal Vague No No Illegal to conceal any "instrumentality customarily used or intended for probable use as a dangerous weapon"
Maine Legal Vague No No
Maryland Legal Vague Yes No Could be a "dangerous or deadly weapon," but isn't named explicitly. Law has self-defense provision. Similar cases suggest state must prove criminal intent.
Massachusetts Legal Legal N/A N/A Only prohibited when arrested on a warrant or during a breach of peace
Michigan Vague Vague No No Illegal to carry with intent to use unlawfully against another "any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument"
Minnesota Vague Vague No No Illegal to possess any "dangerous article or substance for the purpose of being used unlawfully as a weapon against another"
Mississippi Legal Legal N/A N/A
Missouri Legal Vague Yes No Illegal to conceal "any other weapon readily capable of lethal use"
Montana Legal Illegal Yes No
Nebraska Legal Vague No No Illegal to conceal "any other deadly weapon," but burden lies with the state. Law has self-defense provision.
Nevada Illegal Illegal No Yes Can obtain written permission from the county sheriff
New Hampshire Legal Legal N/A N/A
New Jersey Illegal Illegal No Yes Guards with CHP and training certification are permitted to carry
New Mexico Vague Vague Yes No Illegal to carry "any other type of deadly weapon"
New York Illegal Illegal No No
North Carolina Legal Vague No No
North Dakota Legal Illegal Yes No
Ohio Legal Vague No No
Oklahoma Illegal Illegal No No No exception noted for private security
Oregon Legal Legal N/A N/A
Pennsylvania Vague Vague No No Illegal 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 Island Illegal Illegal No No No exception noted for private security
South Carolina Legal Vague No No Illegal to conceal "a deadly weapon usually used for the infliction of personal injury"
South Dakota Legal Legal N/A N/A
Tennessee Illegal Illegal No Yes
Texas Illegal Illegal No Yes Some exceptions for trained or certified security officers
Utah Legal Legal N/A N/A
Vermont Legal Legal N/A N/A
Virginia Legal Vague Spring-loaded baton is illegal, but could possibly be extended to any "weapon of like kind"
Washington Legal Vague No No Illegal to conceal "other dangerous weapon"
West Virginia Legal Legal N/A N/A
Wisconsin Legal Illegal Yes No
Wyoming Legal Vague Yes No Illegal to conceal a "deadly weapon"
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