The pepper spray bill.


There’s a bill in the house that would allow any adult to buy pepper spray without the need for a license. It has received favorable approval from many but is now languishing in the Ways & Means committee and, from what I’ve heard, is being tied to another bill.

Given how quickly the legislature moved on the “up skirting” bill, why is this one taking so long?

Also, note that I purposefully put this in the “fundamental rights” forum.


20 replies on “The pepper spray bill.”

  1. Will,

    I don’t disagree about the upskirting issue and yes, I’m referring to H2145. On the other hand, I believe the pepper spray bill has gone through the legislature 3 times now. As I said, MA is the *only* state in the country that requires a license to own pepper spray. Don’t women like Amy Lord deserve a tool to help defend themselves?

    It seems that only in Massachusetts would this be up for much debate. I certainly hope the Ways and Means committee isn’t dragging this down because they’ll miss the $25 license fee.

  2. I’m sure it’s not the money. If there is a reluctance in the House, I’d guess it’s more likely about having too much pepper spray flying around. We haven’t discussed it in the Senate.

  3. I’ve never it heard it said that MA has a reputation for being soft on domestic violence. We do have a reputation for strong controls on personal weapons. Those are two different issues. More access to weapons can cut either way on domestic violence.

  4. Will,

    Perhaps I should have said that MA has a reputation for being soft on criminals.

    In any event, it seems that H2145 has passed the legislature. I’m not sure when it will come up for a vote in the senate, but can you tell us how you’re inclined to vote on it?


  5. I haven’t heard a full discussion, but I’m pretty sure I’m OK with it. I do think pepper spray is most likely to be used as a defensive weapon and I’d like vulnerable people to have access to it.

  6. How did we ever get to the point of requiring a FID for pepper spray in the first place. Just recently we had a person subdue a sicko who was going to shoot up a university in Seattle, Sucessful because he did it with pepper spray. If that occurred in Mass it could of ended diffently. Mass does not get it’s reputation for being a “Nanny State” for nothing. That person (out there) is called a hero. In Mass he would be arrested.

    Maybe we need to have a new comittee to review alot more state laws and the history and circumstances of enactment to see they are still relevant or counterproductive to today.

  7. After training martial arts and self defense for many decades, I still often suggest that people who feel the need of it to get pepper spray. Notably, I never needed pepper spray or martial arts to defend myself.
    If I am not misinformed (and I might very well be), there are over 3000 weapons licenses in Belmont alone (population about some 40,000). Pepper spray (which is different from Maze, which is much more potent) is a defense weapon that is NOT lethal, can hardly be used offensively, and can save lives. I find it sickening that obtaining pepper spray for any individual over the age of, say, 14 or 16 years old, should be any problem at all while the NRA keeps knocking on everyone’s door to make guns available for any knucklehead under the sun.

  8. Thomas, you’re off by an order of magnitude.

    Also, I don’t think the NRA is knocking on anyone’s door in MA.

    EDIT: Actually, I apologize. Not off by an order of magnitude but it says 300 in that year. Given the escalation in LTC applications across the state and that they’re renewed every 6 years, I’ll bet the number in Belmont is a max of 300*6 so 1800.

  9. Will,

    I understand the pepper spray amendment was deleted from the budget bill. Can you tell me why?

  10. That appears to be correct, and is, indeed, disappointing.

    In the conference process, especially on a large bill with many moving pieces like this, the conferees have huge practical discretion over any provision where there are differences between the branches.

    It’s pretty hard to get underneath all the decisions that get made, but as a general rule, the budget conferees are skeptical of measures that define public policy on issues that do not directly impact the budget. They are working hard to negotiate a balanced budget and don’t have the bandwidth to evaluate collateral public policy measures. The pepper spray changes definitely fall in this category.

    I’ll certainly support the change in the future.

  11. Thanks for the explanation Will.

    That said, the boiled down situation seems to be this. A legislative change that was overwhelmingly supported by both the house and senate, through some bizarre mechanics of how the legislative process works, will not become law. Mind you, the legislative change would have made something legal that is already legal in every other state. So, in summary, change that’s supported by everyone is contained in bill where it doesn’t really belong and gets thrown away.

    This isn’t helping my cynicism towards politics in MA.

  12. FYI, this did stay in the bill on the floor and the Senate President’s press release does summarize it correctly:

    The bill removes pepper spray and mace from the Firearms Identification Card requirements for those ages 18 or older, but still requires persons between the ages of 15 and 18 to obtain a firearms identification card, with the permission of a parent or guardian, to possess pepper spray.

    However, pepper spray will continue to be sold only through licensed firearms dealers.

  13. That’s very good to hear. Thanks Will.

    BTW, I was sorry to see that your amendment didn’t get approved. I think that was definitely something worthwhile and I hope you keep pushing for it.

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