Let's take a quick look at what is pepper spray aka OC gas or capsicum spray, its uses, effects and pepper spray laws in United States, Canada and other countries. Whether you buy a big pepper spray bottle for your home or a compact pepper spray which is size of a key chain or lipstick, this purchase is about safety of you and your family.
Whether or not pepper sprays should be used or carried by the general population, is a separate debate. But if you feel that a small container tucked away in your handbag or in your pocket gives you peace of mind while you roam the street, go for an evening jog in the park or in your daily commute, a Pepper Spray is must have self defence tool.
What is pepper spray?
Pepper spray is a non-lethal spray used by civilians and government agencies mainly for self defence or correctional purposes. Also known as OC gas or capsicum spray, pepper spray causes an instant inflammatory effect on the eyes. This irritation causes temporary blindness to the victim. As the name suggests, pepper spray is made by extracting capsaicin from peppers including capsicum and even chilies. In simple words, it's like spraying a highly concentrated extract of capsicum or chili powder straight into your eyes.
Uses of pepper spray
Pepper spray is used as a non-lethal defence tool used by civilians, police forces and state police departments, correction agencies, federal agencies, US Marshals and many other agencies. Some of the government agencies that use pepper spray are the US Department of Defence, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Customs, US Marshals, Customs and Border Protection, US Federal Bureau of Prisons, many State Police Departments and Correctional agencies.
As one would imagine, the use of pepper spray by civilians if strictly for self defence only and is controlled and governed by local state laws.
In the United States, most states allow the purchase of pepper spray and the use of pepper spray must be backed up by justification and reasonable cause.
The use or purchase of pepper spray is illegal in Canada. However it is legal to carry canisters of such sprays which has the label dog sprays or bear sprays.
In Germany, only reasonable and justified use of pepper spray is allowed.
Pepper spray is not considered as a weapon in Russia. Anyone over the age of 18 can carry or use pepper spray.
The laws of Sweden demand a license if you want to carry a pepper spray.
In Belgium and Denmark, the use and possession of pepper spray is restricted to police personnel only.
Pepper sprays – Who buys them?
People who live in dangerous neighborhoods or suburbs that are prone to violence
People who may have received threats
Expats living in unfamiliar territories
Parents who buy pepper sprays for their children who are going away to college
Women, for safety concerns
People who have to walk through dimly lit streets or stations on a daily basis
Men, for safety concerns
Civilians in general who may be worried about the safety of their loved ones
Overall, there is no stereotyping when it comes to separating people who use pepper spray and people who don't. Pepper sprays are generally carried for peace of mind and more often than not, are not used until they simply expire. For all you know, the woman beside you on the bus may have a tiny pepper spray container in her handbag.
Violence, crime and danger come unannounced so a pepper spray may turn out to be your only friend in times of need and distress. Pepper spray is a realistic non-lethal defence tool that may come in handy to anyone, anytime and anywhere.
Effects of pepper spray
Pepper spray causes instant inflammatory effects on the eyes which causes temporary blindness. The person on whom it is sprayed on will have immediate irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Temporary blindness may also be accompanied by sneezing, a strong burning sensation, coughing and breathing problems. The effect of a pepper spray can last from 20 minutes to a few hours depending on the strength of the pepper spray and also how it has been sprayed. Although the long term effects of repeated use of pepper spray are not quite clear, the effects of a single blast of pepper spray usually do not cause any permanent damage.