Why Is Pepper Spray Legal in Every State, Including the District of Columbia?
Compared to the rest of the world, America has relatively robust legal allowances for self-defense. Pepper spray is generally seen by many as something that does not cause lasting injury to those who are exposed to it, though as certain scholarly articles have pointed out, the rate of injury from pepper spray is not zero. It is generally agreed, however, that pepper spray offers a means for people to defend themselves against crime that is much less likely to cause permanent injury than something that fires a projectile or relies on a cutting or impact surface.
This perception of the relative safety of pepper spray appears to have led to an almost universal acceptance in the United States that pepper spray is a zero-consequence option for people looking to protect themselves. Even places that are traditionally seen as having relatively draconian carry laws, such asCalifornia, New York, and Washington, D.C., make allowances for people to have pepper spray on their person in public in case they are targeted for crime.
Should You Carry Pepper Spray for Self-Defense?
Making the decision to carry pepper spray should only be reached after very careful consideration. Some people who are interested in firearms for self-defense, or who already carry a concealed gun in public, view pepper spray as a silver bullet that will help solve all the issues that a firearm cannot. A good analogy to consider is one of electrical current. It is generally understood that alternating current (AC) electricity is more dangerous than direct current (DC) electricity due to several factors. However, both forms of current can cause major issues, up to and including death. Both firearms and any of the sprays available on the market, whether it’s a specific brand like Mace® pepper spray or one of the generic sprays available, can also cause serious problems for someone if used inappropriately.
This gets us to the main point that people need to consider: While it is true that the answer to the question of “is pepper spray legal” is generally yes, that doesn’t mean pepper spray comes without a level of risk that must be mitigated. Many people understand the potential negative outcomes that can result from misusing a firearm. Very few people pay attention to the ways that pepper sprays can land someone in trouble with thelaw.
Because pepper spray is so socially acceptable, people can sometimes forget to treat pepper spray with the respect it deserves. Living in a pepper spray state with few legal restrictions regarding sprays doesn’t mean that pepper spray will be legal everywhere you go in the state. Many schools, courthouses, and even the TSA ban the possession of pepper spray in certain areas. If you decide to incorporate pepper spray into your daily life, it is still incredibly important to remember that it’s not legal in all places.
Another thing to keep in mind before thinking of any of the sprays available as some sort of “fix” for any encounter with a criminal you might find yourself in: There is a section of the criminal element who has been exposed to pepper spray multiple times. While multiple exposures to pepper spray might not result in a change regarding the physical effects, repeated exposure can certainly lessen the psychological effect of pepper spray on a person. While pepper spray can be effective, it’s important to remember that the people most likely to commit a crime against us are also the people most likely to have already had an experience with pepper spray.
The availability of a wide range of tools for personal protection is a good thing. Just make sure that before you decide to incorporate any weapon into your daily life, you educate yourself regarding the laws pertaining to that tool. Pepper spray is not something you can throw into your pocket and just forget about until the day you need it. Also, depending on your jurisdiction, there may be some not-so-obvious ways that you can land yourself in trouble with pepper spray. As always, contact your U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for any questions you have regarding weapon laws in your jurisdiction.
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