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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are the restrictions for pepper spray? Obviously you can't go around spraying everyone you see, so how far does a situation need to escalate before pepper spray can be used?
 

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Essentially, the restrictions on usage of pepper spray are the same as for any other weapon. As a concealed weapons holder the laws, times and reasons for usage were explained in your training class. The laws on weapons usage are also included in Utah Gun Law by Mitch Vilos. More or less, it comes down to if you feel you or others, including spouse and family, are in danger and you use the weapon to eliminate the threat. Each individual is responsible for deciding whether usage is, or is not appropriate in the circumstances they find themselves in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cinhil said:
Essentially, the restrictions on usage of pepper spray are the same as for any other weapon. As a concealed weapons holder the laws, times and reasons for usage were explained in your training class.
I can assure you my class did not go over this. We only focused on firearms (not even knives). I don't agree with your statement that the use of pepper spray is the same as any other weapon. I'm sure I'm more easily justified in spraying someone with pepper spray than drawing down/shooting them.

Cinhil said:
The laws on weapons usage are also included in Utah Gun Law by Mitch Vilos.
I don't see anything in there on pepper spray. Maybe I missed it. What page(s) are you referring to?

Cinhil said:
More or less, it comes down to if you feel you or others, including spouse and family, are in danger and you use the weapon to eliminate the threat. Each individual is responsible for deciding whether usage is, or is not appropriate in the circumstances they find themselves in.
I want to see some type of definitions of the use so I'm not flying blind.
 

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xRapidDavex said:
Cinhil said:
Essentially, the restrictions on usage of pepper spray are the same as for any other weapon. As a concealed weapons holder the laws, times and reasons for usage were explained in your training class.
I can assure you my class did not go over this. We only focused on firearms (not even knives). I don't agree with your statement that the use of pepper spray is the same as any other weapon. I'm sure I'm more easily justified in spraying someone with pepper spray than drawing down/shooting them.
Somewhat.

Application of ANY force falls into the category of assault unless it is in defense of imminent injury of self or others, or to stop an in-progress felony. So the justification rules are very close to the same.

However, the law does draw a distinction between lethal and non-lethal force. In order to be justified in use of lethal force, you have to have a reasonable fear of serious injury or death, or be stopping a forcible felony.

BTW, knives are lethal weapons and lethal force is lethal force. Gun, knife, baseball bat, automobile, rolling pin... all the same.

Other issues to consider are the legal consequences if you're found to be unjustified from a criminal perspective, as well as the potential for civil litigation. You minimize both risks by using as little force as possible. So even if you're legally justified in using lethal force, if pepper spray will do the job it's a good idea to use it. Even if the worst happens and the BG dies (OC spray can kill if the target has respiratory problems) and the jury doesn't buy your justification for use of force, at least you have a strong argument that you didn't intend to kill, since OC is supposed to be non-lethal.

Of course, legal risk has to be balanced against physical risk. The first goal is to survive the encounter.

Note: IANAL, and you REALLY, REALLY should read the law yourself. It's not that hard to understand.
 

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It should also be reminded that we are talking from a Utah perspective; other states laws may vary regarding Pepper Spray but I don't really know which states or what differences. What I do know is that some countries actually consider Pepper Spray a chemical warfare agent and prohibit it's use by anyone including military. That doesn't generally apply to any of us but I know other states view pepper spray a little less kindly than you would think... I remember reading, for example, that some jurisdictions actually require registration for you to carry around mace; stupid, I know.
 

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bane said:
That doesn't generally apply to any of us but I know other states view pepper spray a little less kindly than you would think
Also, you cannot take it on an airplane.

For those of us that travel, that means that although we can take our gun to many states, we cannot take our pepper spray.
 

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swillden said:
bane said:
That doesn't generally apply to any of us but I know other states view pepper spray a little less kindly than you would think
Also, you cannot take it on an airplane.

For those of us that travel, that means that although we can take our gun to many states, we cannot take our pepper spray.
I believe you are mistaken; it is my understanding that you can pack it into your checked luggage, just like you do with a gun. I'll look for official documentation and update here if I find it.

EDIT: Yep, here it is: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ ... ems.shtm#8

TSA said:
Mace/Pepper Spray - One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. For more information visit www.faa.gov., click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly.
Carry-On: No
Checked: Yes
I was pretty sure this was right b/c my wife packs hers into her checked baggage every time she flies for business to ID.
 

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To reply here is what the Utah Code says:

76-10-501 (5b)
(5) (a) "Dangerous weapon" means any item that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. The following factors shall be used in determining whether a knife, or any other item, object, or thing not commonly known as a dangerous weapon is a dangerous weapon:
(i) the character of the instrument, object, or thing;
(ii) the character of the wound produced, if any;
(iii) the manner in which the instrument, object, or thing was used; and
(iv) the other lawful purposes for which the instrument, object, or thing may be used.
(b) "Dangerous weapon" does not include any explosive, chemical, or incendiary device as defined by Section 76-10-306.

Other than this it is legal in all 50 states to use Pepper Spray/Chemical Sprays for self defense purposes. The laws for each state vary according to that states definition of lawful use.
Utah has no specific statute against its use but does allow it to be used. Per our instructions in obtaining a ccw (at least in my class 10 years ago) sprays were considered to be another weapon, just as a knife or other object which could be used in self defense situations. As with guns we were informed to be responsible with our use of force in self defense situations and that proper force ought to be applied under any given situation according to what that situation may be. Pepper Sprays or Mace are alternative lees lethal (or according to statute above - not considered lethal) means of defense by Utah Statute.

I am surprised that your ccw instructor did not go over these issues with your class.
 

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bane said:
TSA said:
Mace/Pepper Spray - One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. For more information visit http://www.faa.gov., click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly.
Carry-On: No
Checked: Yes
Wow. Until now, I was sure that you could not take pepper spray on a plane at all.
 

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I pack my OC spray with my ammo when traveling. However keep in mind that there are some States where you can CCW a firearm but not pepper spray. The big one that comes to mind is MI which is a we honor all resident State but my Fox Labs is too potent to carry in MI.
 

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Here's a funny tidbit related to flying with pepper spray. My wife and I flew from SLC -> Atlanta -> Denmark a couple years ago. We took our baby and a running stroller. What we didn't know was my wife accidentally left her Fox pepper spray in the stroller pocket. She normally kept it there for protection when running outside.

We took the stroller all the way to the gate of every plane (i.e. didn't check it with luggage). We got through SLC security without any problems, then through Atlanta security without problems, but Denmark police found it immediately upon arrival. They were really nice and only confiscated it (and let us on our way), even though pepper spray is illegal in the entire country. It sure made me think twice about how well TSA is protecting our borders... :dunno:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
swillden said:
Note: IANAL, and you REALLY, REALLY should read the law yourself. It's not that hard to understand.
That's what I want to do but I don't know where to start. I'm only 22 guys, I don't know a lot of laws. Just point me in the right direction to make sure I cover all my bases and I will read them myself.
 

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xRapidDavex said:
swillden said:
Note: IANAL, and you REALLY, REALLY should read the law yourself. It's not that hard to understand.
That's what I want to do but I don't know where to start. I'm only 22 guys, I don't know a lot of laws. Just point me in the right direction to make sure I cover all my bases and I will read them myself.
Personally, I would start with Mitch Vilos's book... a sort of "primer" to get you used to reading the legalese (along with his explanations so that you don't get too lost).

After/alongside that, try this thread of links to gun laws that apply to us here in Utah (maintained, thankfully, by Jeff): viewtopic.php?f=11&t=99

In that thread, start by focusing on the ones titled "U.C.A." and which the following brief-descriptions sound like they might apply to you. After you get a handle of those you can go back and read any others that sound interesting or which MIGHT apply to you in the future. After that, you can usually do pretty good searching the legislature's laws using their search engine; but I wouldn't do that until you've read the bulk of the stuff I've already mentioned -- the searches are really only adequate if you have a fairly good base of understanding to start from.

Another good idea is to search the forum for references to the laws AS YOU READ THEM. There are many grey-areas or areas-of-confusion in the laws, and excellent threads exist here that go a long way towards clearing things up in your head. But that is also why the recommendation for Mitch's book: his helps paint a pretty clear picture also. You don't have to read the book cover-to-cover; start with the chapters covering basic guns laws and work from there -- for example, I have never gone back and re-read any of the sections on hunting (because I'm not a hunter).
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Bane,

Doesn't Mitch's book really just cover deadly weapons - more specifically guns and knives?
 

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xRapidDavex said:
Bane,

Doesn't Mitch's book really just cover deadly weapons - more specifically guns and knives?
Yep; sorry, I thought you were talking about weapons laws in GENERAL. If your knowledge of weapons laws in general is already pretty firm, I'd just go the legislature's web page and use their law-search utility and search for terms that apply to what you want to know specifically. Post threads about any confusing parts and we can discuss those parts and see if someone knows them well enough to explain any discrepancies you find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
bane said:
xRapidDavex said:
Bane,

Doesn't Mitch's book really just cover deadly weapons - more specifically guns and knives?
Yep; sorry, I thought you were talking about weapons laws in GENERAL. If your knowledge of weapons laws in general is already pretty firm, I'd just go the legislature's web page and use their law-search utility and search for terms that apply to what you want to know specifically. Post threads about any confusing parts and we can discuss those parts and see if someone knows them well enough to explain any discrepancies you find.
And I will find restrictions on pepper spray there? Do you know what the 'technical classification' is for pepper spray? I would imagine it falls under a non-lethal somethin' or other.
 

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bane said:
I believe you are mistaken; it is my understanding that you can pack it into your checked luggage, just like you do with a gun.
Thanks for the correction! I know I looked this up a year or so ago...

I think I know how/why I got this confused, though. Even though DOT and the TSA allow it, many airlines do not. In particular I fly Delta most of the time, and their policy is:

Gunpowder, i.e., Pyrodex, black powder, mace, pepper spray, and tear gas are not allowed.
However, if it's just airline policy, and not the law, then the worst thing that will happen is the airline throws away your pepper spray. What's likely to happen is absolutely nothing. The airline doesn't search your bags, the TSA does. TSA employees are concerned about enforcing TSA regulations, not airline policies.

I will take my pepper spray next time I go somewhere that allows it. Unfortunately, the next trip coming up is to France, which insists that I be completely disarmed and helpless. Even taking any sort of decent knife could land me in trouble. :disgusted:
 

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xRapidDavex said:
swillden said:
Note: IANAL, and you REALLY, REALLY should read the law yourself. It's not that hard to understand.
That's what I want to do but I don't know where to start. I'm only 22 guys, I don't know a lot of laws. Just point me in the right direction to make sure I cover all my bases and I will read them myself.
Since it's mostly state laws that matter, start there.

http://le.utah.gov/~code/code.htm

There's a lot there, though. You don't want to read it all (I certainly haven't). One good place to start is with the criminal code, which is Title 76. That's still a large chunk but, more manageable.

Inside of title 76, I'd start with chapter 2 "Principles of Criminal Responsibility". Just read down through the section titles and see what looks interesting/useful. One section that you'll want to read is the one entitled "Force in defense of person -- Forcible felony defined". The one just above that "Justification as a defense -- When allowed", is also pretty interesting. "Force in defense of habitation" and "Force in defense of property" are good to understand as well.

Before looking at a given section, it's a good idea to scan up the list and look for a "definitions" section with the same first number. By that I mean if you're looking at section 206 and there's a section 201 called "Definitions", then the definitions in 201 are probably relevant to 206.

Note that I think it's a good idea to start looking at the law from the top down, to get a sense of how it all fits together, rather than just using the links to specific parts. Don't be afraid to just browse around in it for a while.

When you read the laws, the first thing you notice is that they're a little hard to understand. People mistakenly call this "legalese", as though it's somehow different from English. It's not. The law is just written to be as precise as possible (sometimes it's still not precise enough!) so you get long, complex sentences that are harder to understand than your typical novel. You'll have to pay closer attention to punctuation that you're used to. Commas, colons, semi-colons and periods are IMPORTANT -- But it is still JUST ENGLISH! Lawyers do have a lot of technical terms that they use, but those words are rarely found in the law itself. The principle of the "Rule of Law" is defeated if only lawyers can read it.

So just read slowly, and if you can't understand, start breaking the text down into pieces that you do understand, and then build up from there. If you have questions, post here. There aren't a lot of lawyers here, but there are a lot of people who have been trying to read the law for a few years.

Another thing you'll notice is that the law often doesn't answer your specific question directly. That's because there are too many possible specific questions. Instead, the idea is:

  1. Whatever is not declared illegal is legal.[/*]
  2. A more specific law overrides a less-specific one.[/*]
  3. Where laws would conflict, the law often states whether this part or that one wins.[/*]
  4. Where laws conflict and don't state which part wins, judges look for an interpretation that doesn't completely ignore one part or the other.[/*]
So beyond just reading, you also have to apply logic to figure out how the different laws interact. This is where the difference between you and a lawyer starts to become really obvious -- it's hard for you to know whether or not you've found all of the laws that apply. Especially when you consider municipal, county, state and federal laws, plus ordinances, regulations and administrative rules at each of those levels. On top of that, the fuzzier areas are often resolved by looking at "precedent", meaning what other judges decided in sufficiently-similar cases.

The entirety of the law is huge, and complex. But the areas you're asking questions about are fairly small and simple, and it's absolutely within your ability to understand, with a little focused effort.

Have fun :)
 

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swillden said:
The entirety of the law is huge, and complex.
:agree:
I've often thought that a lot of this nation's problems would be automatically resolved -IF-:
1) The legislative-body preparing to enact a new law were REQUIRED to first read the law OUT-LOUD (and without distracted participants) and IN FULL just prior to the final vote.

2) The legislative-body responsible for a particular law were required to AGAIN perform the reading (not a re-vote, just a re-read) every-so-often, say every 4 years.

I can tell you one thing: the tax code would go bye-bye REAL QUICK! :evil:
 

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I once read a science fiction story (decades ago -- I have no idea who wrote it or what it was called) about a society in which the final signing of a new law into effect included the ritual death of the legislator who proposed it and, if I recall correctly, some sort of punishment for all of the legislators who voted for it.

That'd fix the proliferation of lousy laws for sure :twisted:
 
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