Some would argue that pepper spray has replaced the Taser as law enforcement's crowd control weapon of choice. After all, it's played a prominent role in Occupy Wall Street protests across the country.
But it seems that pepper spray has also caught on amongst the masses. A Black Friday shopper in Southern California sprayed fellow Walmart deal hunters. On Tuesday, a 14-year-old high school student in Harlem sprayed her classmates, sending 9 of them to the hospital. And in Kentucky, a pepper sprayed stray dog made a family sick.
You likely have little desire to end up on the above list. The best way to do that is to learn about your state's pepper spray laws.
Those laws vary, but pepper spray is generally legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, most jurisdictions have restrictions.
For example, pepper spray laws in New York and California restrict possession to those aged 18 and older. The state of New Jersey gets a little more specific, only authorizing pepper spray devices that release and contain "not more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance."
And Michigan? It's really picky, limiting pepper spray to a 10% concentration of capsicum.
It's thus best not to buy pepper spray online. Purchasing it from a local vendor will help ensure that it meets your state's limitations.
It's also important to remember that pepper spray can only be used for self defense. To use it otherwise is battery and/or assault. Persons who violate pepper spray laws are often fined, placed on probation, or ordered to a short stint in jail.
So pay attention to your state's pepper spray laws. Pepper spray is a weapon, not a toy.
- Walmart pepper spraying may have been self-defense (Associated Press)
- 'Superhero' Phoenix Jones Arrested for Assault (FindLaw Blotter)
- UC Davis Pepper Spray Cop an Internet Sensation (FindLaw's Legally Weird)