While it’s true that pepper spray, also called OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, is an incredibly popular self-defense tool, it’s not the one-size-fits-all answer that many see it as. Police officers, security guards, and private citizens interested in self-defense have all utilized pepper spray effectively inside of self-defense incidents to prevent falling victim to violent crime. In fact, pepper spray is so popular and socially accepted that in most states you can find pepper spray in the checkout line of your local hardware or big box store, right alongside the other products they sell. But there’s an important question to ask: Does the popularity of pepper spray lead to people ignoring the potential issues that could come from having it or using it?
Being able to legally obtain pepper spray isn’t always as uncomplicated as grabbing whichever self-defense chemical spray or tear gas weapon you prefer in the checkout line at your local store. Even something as simple as adding pepper spray to your shopping cart at an online business specializing in defense sprays and paying for the shipping to your property could land you in trouble with the police and possibly see you convicted of a crime, depending on the pepper spray laws of your jurisdiction.’
Just because many police, security professionals, and private citizens choose to have pepper spray doesn’t mean there aren’t things that need to be considered before incorporating pepper spray into your self-defense plans. It’s important to understand that while in the eyes of the law a less-lethal tool like pepper spray might not be seen as capable of causing great bodily harm, it’s almost certain to be seen as something that causes bodily harm. This means that you cannot simply pepper-spray a criminal or someone you suspect is about to commit a crime without meeting the legal criteria for using force.
It is unlikely that someone could plug “laws, pepper spray” into their search engine of choice and find everything they need to know regarding when deploying pepper spray would be appropriate or, more importantly, legal.