According to the Copenhagen Post, a seventeen-year-old girl in a coastal city in Denmark was recently assaulted by a man who attempted to remove her clothing. The man may have been an asylum seeker, but that’s not clear. In any case, she used pepper spray to stop the attack.
Here in America, the right thinking among us would tell her, “You go, girl,” but in Denmark, it seems that thwarting the intentions of a potential rapist makes you a criminal. At least, using pepper spray to do so is a criminal offense, since even possessing such defensive tools is illegal.
Lest we feel the urge to sneer about defenseless Europeans, let’s recall that until recently, Massachusetts required a license to buy and carry pepper spray. Easthampton, MA Chief of Police Bruce McMahon commented on the change in the law, saying “I think it’s good. People should be able to carry pepper spray to defend themselves.” You think? Purchase can still only be done legally at licensed firearms dealers in that state, and other jurisdictions have similar restrictions—in the District of Columbia, for example, owners of pepper spray are required to register with law enforcement.
Contrary to the opinion of some, pepper spray isn’t “safe.” It’s considered a non-lethal weapon, but the oleoresin capsicum spray can cause breathing difficulties and temporary blindness, among other symptoms. Of course, if it were safe, what would be the point, since people carry defensive tools to stop violent attacks on themselves, not as food additives.
The real question here is the attitude toward self-defense that we hold, either individually or as a society. The argument offered by supporters of more control on our options is that the police exist to keep us safe. There is some merit to this notion. We pay a group of (theoretically) professionals to seek out criminals and to bring them to the judgement of the courts. This leaves the rest of us free to engage in whatever other jobs we have chosen for ourselves. How effective as a deterrent to crime this happens to be is a complex question, but perhaps we can accept as a given that having a cop on the beat makes for a safer community.
But law enforcement can’t be everywhere. The total number of serving officers in the United States is around one million—that’s one cop for every 320 of us. More importantly, we wouldn’t want the police to be hanging around watching our every move. That’s called a police state.
And it’s a reasonable thing to point out that each of us has a duty to attend to our own lives first and foremost. Societies that forbid the possession—in public or at home—of effective tools for self-defense by law-abiding people make personal responsibility a fine theory with no practical application. Politicians may lament sexual assaults and other violent crimes, but doing so lacks credibility if they reject the right to keep and bear arms. It’s on us to remind them of this regularly—until such time as we can choose their replacements.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.