Hilltop Views

Use of pepper spray needs more regulation

Many countries require permits to purchase and use pepper spray.

Many countries require permits to purchase and use pepper spray.


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 Pepper spray, a weapon frequently used by police of ficers as a means of crowd control and self-defense, has been making headlines.

On Nov. 18, students pro testing at University of Cali fornia at Davis were repri manded by campus police after protesters refused to comply with orders to evacu ate. The scene was caught on camera by several students who quickly uploaded the videos to YouTube. Footage shows officers pacing back and forth around the stu dents, spraying them with pepper spray at close range.

Most pepper spray manu facturers recommend using the spray at six to eight feet, an instruction obviously ignored as officers sprayed students with large canisters from approximately a foot or less away.

In many of the YouTube videos, students are seen sit ting down with locked arms, as officers walked around them, spraying as they went along. The UC Davis crowd did not appear to be hos tile, with students huddling against each other to avoid being sprayed. The situation did not seem to call for the usage of pepper spray, which is generally justified for self-defense or as a way of subdu ing a violent crowd.

More recently on Black Fri day last week, overzealous shoppers at a Los Angeles- area Wal-Mart were attacked by a woman who had brought a can of pepper spray with her on the busiest shopping day of the year.

The woman was allegedly trying to be first in line to get a discounted Xbox game console.

According to Reuters, the woman sprayed into the crowd, injuring about 20 people. She then purchased an Xbox and left.

Pepper spray’s main ingredi ent is capsaicin, which causes inflammation in the eyes and temporary blindness. High volumes of capsaicin con sumption could cause painful burning sensations through out the digestive system.

In many other countries, pepper spray is considered to be a serious weapon. This is not the case in the United States.

Though many states do place certain restrictions on who can and cannot purchase pepper spray, it seems that anyone over the age of 18 can buy a canister and go wild with it. We as Americans have a right to bear arms, but if there’s strict regulations on guns, there should be strict regulations on pepper spray as well.

While the public can easily obtain this harmful weapon, police across the country are finding themselves to be much more spray-happy than ever before.

There’s no doubt that pep per spray, when used prop erly, can be an effective pro tective device, but when used on peaceful protesters or unsuspecting shoppers, pep per spray becomes a tool of chaos.

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Use of pepper spray needs more regulation