Pepper Spray is Legal! – Kind Of.
If you or a loved one is starting college or living on their own for the first time, safety
becomes a concern. Pepper spray is commonly seen in movies and T.V. shows as easy
means of protection, but what is the reality of it?
Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, to a certain extent. First off, you must be 18-
years-old or older in order to purchase and use pepper spray. Second off, there are
limitations as to how strong the spray is or the size of the canister; so, if you are unsure
as to what types are illegal in your state, check with your local police department or
search regulations online.
While it may be legal, pepper spray is prohibited on many college campuses. It
depends on specific University policy as to whether or not you can carry it around
campus. Some consider it a harmful weapon, while others see it as a self-defense
Things to Consider With Pepper Spray on a College Campus:
First, not all students are 18-years-old or older, so some students would not legally be
allowed to carry pepper spray whether the University allows is or not. This may be
considered a disadvantage for those who cannot defend themselves in this way.
Second, pepper spray is a relatively unreliable and short-term solution to the situation.
You cannot use it within a dorm room because you are going to harm yourself as well.
You cannot control the wind or weather, and the spray could just as easily harm you as
well as your assaulter. Fear, adrenaline, or other factors could cause you to drop the
spray before you use it, miss your attacker, or use it incorrectly.
Third, pepper spray is a very aggressive way to address a situation that may be more
intermediate. It should not be used as the first, or only, solution to an uncomfortable or
scary situation. Try to contact help or remove yourself from the situation before you
reach the conclusion that pepper spray is necessary.
Finally, there are many new safety devices, apps, and alerts you can use that might be
more effective. College campuses all over the country have the blue light towers that
contact campus police. Some apps and devices let out a screeching alarm in hopes of
warding off attackers. And, there are apps that are connected to a device, like Revolar,
that will send out your GPS location if you double-tap the watch when you feel as
though you are uncomfortable or in danger.
In a perfect world, none of these devices or solutions would have to exist in the first
place, but, unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. It is always best to have a plan
between you, your parents, your roommates, or local security if you ever happen to be
in a situation where it is necessary.