Sunday, August 17, 2003

Why Not Non-Lethal Weapons

In Feeling salty over pepper spray Joel Beck discovers well-meaning tyranny in Massachusetts. Here's the first mistake:
It's been that way since 1998, when state legislators passed the Gun Control Act, otherwise known as Chapter 180, and made it impossible for anyone in Massachusetts to own a weapon without first being approved for a Firearms Identification Card. Living in a post-Columbine world where serious questions are continually raised about gun ownership, legislators wasted no time in passing Chapter 180.

Still, there are those who feel the law is imperfect - for starters, the fact it required anyone who wanted to buy pepper spray for protection to acquire an FID card. And cough up the $25 fee that went with it.
Then came the fiscal crunch:
Earlier this year, with the state in financial turmoil and Gov. Mitt Romney using all kinds of stopgap solutions to try to solve the budget crunch, the FID card registration fee quadrupled to $100. The move not only made it that much harder for anyone in Massachusetts to buy pepper spray, it also fueled a growing sentiment among Bay Staters and North Shore residents that people looking only to protect themselves are instead being penalized.
Now factor in the backlog:
They are people like Richard Griffith, who recently encouraged his fiance to consider carrying pepper spray, only to discover that it could take up to 140 days for her to receive her FID Card, not to mention the hassle of being fingerprinted and undergoing a thorough background examination.
Result: Want some pepper spray to defend yourself against a rapist in your neighborhood? Sorry, there's a five month wait. Has there been a series of muggings in your parking garage? Think a stun gun might deter them? Nope, gotta wait five months. My advice: Move to Vermont. You can get a handgun and carry in any way you want, no license required. On the other hand, crime is so low you won't need one.

The appropriate scene in the Massachesetts legislature in 1998 is described here. Taking non-lethal weapons away from good citizens is tyrannical folly which should result in impeachment. Frankly I would encourage criminals to use non-lethal weapons. Would you rather be pepper-sprayed during your mugging or just shot? Someone please explain the reasoning behind this law, because from my viewpoint it is completely unjustifiable.

I have heard that these are good laws because of cases where citizens sprayed first and asked questions later. Gee, I don't remember any cases like that in the news. So I looked up "misuse of pepper-spray" on Google. The first five articles were on police misuse. The next was a Berkley PDF on how to use pepper-spray properly. There were more pages on police misuse, on pepper-spray return policy misuse, on the law regarding pepper spray, one where the school district just to the south of mine now prohibits possession of pepper-spray (I'm channeling Chomps, the World's Angriest Dog right now) and so on. Not one of the first forty articles was about a citizen misusing pepper-spray. I did better with "pepper-spray assault", where I found four crimes hidden among the first forty links. One was an assault with pepper spray and a tire iron in Minnesota. The second was an assault by an abortion advocate on a pro-life pregnancy counselor in Toronto, Canada. Oddly, Canada prohibits carrying pepper sprary, except for use against bears. Do these laws ever work? The third and fourth assaults were in Oregon. I also found this case where an assailant was fought off twice using pepper spray. "Pepper spray incident" found more crimes and "pepper spray" all alone found others. These were all criminals misusing pepper spray. Every one of the people was willing to break the law. How will a law against possession of non-lethal weapons prevent these crimes? I didn't find one incident where a person had been mistakenly sprayed by a citizen attempting to use pepper spray in self defense.

On the other hand, you can pick up the newspaper any day and find assaults, muggings and rapes where the victims could have defended themselves with a non-lethal weapon. In the United States in the year 2000 there were 15,517 murders, 90,186 rapes, 407,842 robberies and 910,744 assaults with a total of 1,424,289 violent crimes. So the Massachusetts legislature (and the Blue Valley School District) decided they would prevent a miniscule number of incidents where an armed citizen was irresponsible and enable innumerable crimes to be commited against the defenseless populace. Also please explain why we want to penalize criminals for carrying a non-lethal weapon instead of carrying a lethal one? One last quote from the article:
"We're not talking about a minor number of women who are being assaulted here each year," he adds. "We're talking about a substantial number of women who are being victimized. I don't think the Massachusetts legislature has been very responsive and I think they need to be."
Via The Smallest Minority and Keep And Bear Arms.