Legalise pepper spray for self-defence; this is the case – Nathen Allen

IF you want to defend women, you should start by allowing them to defend themselves.

Is it time to legalise pepper spray?
Is it time to legalise pepper spray?

In this regard, Sir Keir Starmer’s upcoming Bill for the protection of women and girls falls short.

The Bill would make it an offence to harass women on the street, would increase the sentences for rapists and stalkers and introduce “whole life” jail terms for those guilty of abduction and murder of a stranger.

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While harsher punishments for such atrocities are certainly welcome, they still won’t protect women.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Offenders never believe they’ll be caught. Harsher punishments aren’t really a deterrent.

There is, however, a simpler, stronger, more effective and more immediate solution that would actually allow women to protect themselves: legalising pepper spray.

Currently, Desmethyl Dihydrocapsaicin, or pepper spray as it is known to most of us, is classified under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968.

That means it falls under the same category as the rocket launcher.

Should pepper spray be leglaised to help protect women's safety?

Even those who have never worn camouflage trousers nor played Grand Theft Auto can see that these two weapons are incomparable.

It’s a non-lethal defence pepper spray, which should make it appealing to legislators. Britain would not be an outsider in Europe for legalising pepper spray.

France, Italy, Spain, Russia and others all allow this form of self defence. We should, too.

On March 25, the Government received a Parliamentary petition calling for the legalisation of non-lethal self-defence weapons.

Its response was simply inadequate – a regurgitation of previous political empty promises. In the end, the Government said these sprays were too dangerous in the wrong hands.

Yet criminals are already using weapons and violence to get what they want.

The tragic irony is that if they started using pepper spray instead of knives, 
acid or even guns, then deadly violence might actually decrease in our cities.

Regardless of whether criminals used it or not, it would finally give honest men and women the fighting chance they deserve.

It would help women especially, arming them with the ability to fight off stronger and larger male aggressors.

Media reports suggest that in the wake of protests from the Reclaim the Streets Movement, women are being encouraged to take self-defence lessons, but for those women who can afford neither the time nor the money, pepper spray offers a cheap and accessible defence weapon.

Talk of educating men or initiating long-term reforms to eradicate the underlying causes of serious violence overlooks 150 millennia of human history and the fundamental fact that if someone chooses to attack, all the classrooms in the world cannot stop them in that moment.

Trying to prevent crime is a noble and just cause and I hope our government is able to achieve these necessary long-term reforms, which should have been done decades ago.

But these are long-term solutions to a clear and present immediate danger.

The people of this country need an immediate means of protecting themselves when the worst occurs.

There is no honour in sticking your head in the sand and pretending that if we all educate ourselves hard enough somehow the worst aspects of human nature will disappear.

The worst can and will happen. And when it does, all the government spending in the world won’t matter a mite.

If the Government and the Opposition are serious about wanting to protect women, they should prioritise immediate solutions, not just long-term reforms for a distant and indeterminate future.

Pepper spray provides an opportunity for a last-ditch defence when all else fails.

Why are we withholding this from women?

Nathen Allen from Leeds, is a Young Voices UK contributor and the chairman of the London Universities Conservatives.

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