Lawmaker: Pepper Spray Should Be Available Over-the-Counter

In the wake of Amy Lord’s murder, the conversation about the permit process is back.

As the community tries to make sense of the murder of 24-year-old Amy Lord, some state lawmakers are pushing for more protections for constituents, and want to ease-up on the process for obtaining mace and pepper spray.

State Representative Kimberly Ferguson, R-Holden, wants to make over-the-counter mace more readily available for women in Massachusetts, she said, by doing away with the lengthy permitting process that can stall people from purchasing the self-defense product. “The issue is, we are one of the only states in this country that forces people to go through a [rigorous process] to get a card to carry pepper spray,” said Ferguson. “Obviously, I feel that it is time to lift that restriction.”

On Monday, one day before Lord was laid to rest in her hometown of Wilbraham, hundreds of residents in the South Boston community attended a neighborhood meeting to speak with police officials, and find out more about the case.

Ferguson said the incident has left many residents on edge, and she has been fielding continuous calls from constituents about changing the way the law is written so that pepper spray and mace are easily attainable. “I have had many women—especially recently—call me, and say they want to protect themselves but they can’t go out and buy this pepper spray. And they can’t,” she said.

Currently, a person has to obtain a Firearm Identification Card, or FID, from a local law enforcement agency, in order to possess mace or pepper spray because of the state law. Each application for a FID card costs $25, and is renewable on an annual basis. Applicants for the restricted FIDs are exempt from the education requirement that people seeking gun ownership have to take.

But Ferguson said getting the limited license, while meant to be speedy, can take up to months in some cases, cutting off access to the product. “You have to go to a police station, go through an interview process, and it can take anywhere up to 40 days—I have had people tell me it can even take at least four months,” she said. “People should be allowed to purchase it.”

To fix that, she has offered up a resolution, which reads:

Notwithstanding and special law or regulation to the contrary it shall be lawful for residents or non-residents aged 18 years of age or older to purchase, possess, carry, transport Defensive Sprays

Although police promised they would speed up the permitting process at local stations following Lord’s death, Ferguson’s proposed legislation would eliminate that process altogether, and allow anyone over the age of 18 to buy the product at big box stores, or anywhere else that can legally supply mace, she said.

Ferguson said she hasn’t received any negative comments about her proposal to lift the current regulations, and her legislation has quickly moved through the appropriate committees on Beacon Hill. “It has had some good bipartisan support. People tend to agree this is something we should be able to buy over counter.”

But not everyone thinks having such easy access to mace and pepper spray is a good plan.

Ashley Moquin, who works in Boston, said the proper paperwork should still have to be filled out instead of buying pepper spray over the counter without a license. “I looked at the form to apply for the restricted FID card, and it’s very straightforward. If officials processed the paperwork the same day, allowing someone to get the right to carry mace, I think that would be more acceptable,” she said. “They could carry a temporary ID or something of the sort. This [would] ensure the proper safety measures are taken before putting an irritant in someone’s hands that otherwise shouldn’t have it.”

Moquin said she will be taking night classes in Boston starting in the fall, and while she wants to have a precautionary tool by her side for emergency situations as she walks to her car or around the city, she doesn’t think the entire license procedure should be eliminated. “The increase in interest to carry mace is obviously a reactionary measure … but it shouldn’t be held to a more loose standard. An alternative to making it easier to obtain [would be to] decrease, or remove, the fee for the license,” she said.

  • JPReturns

    The murder of Amy Lord has become a political cause in Massachusetts. Over the years, the banking industry has gone to great lengths to keep the extent of these kinds of murders out of the public eye in order to protect their business model. To do so, they had to block the police from tracking the problem. (They did this by preventing the passage of a specific crime statute for forced withdrawals. Without a statute, there’s no index number for the police to use.) This in turn made it easier for these killers to avoid arrest so they could continue killing more and more people. Thanks to improvements in crime tracking software, it’s now cheap and easy to expose the problem. For more information on this see:

  • jimbo jones

    This would be one possible positive outcome from this horrific tragedy. One should not have to go through the same intense process to get pepper spray as one does to get a concealed carry permit. My wife and daughters should be able to carry mace without the six months wait it takes to get a firearm. Pepper spray is non-lethal, easy to use and can offer a few precious moments that one needs to get on their feet and running away.

  • FrancisMcManus

    Mace is a non-lethal but panic inducing weapon. A modicum of regulation is warranted.

    Expedite the registration process and make sure people who are register for it get a guide that spells out the law and safety consideration. Publish the guide on the internet for everyone to see.

    Imagine if someone decided to discharge mace or pepper spray in a densely packed vehicle like an MBTA green line car at rush hour. What a mess.

    I don’t think police should be using it to decapitate citizens either.

    • guyjones

      Typical asinine liberal reasoning. Do you really think that a criminal who intends to use pepper spray in an illegal manner will simply waltz into a police station of his own volition and file the necessary paperwork to register his spray? No, of course not; criminals, by their very nature, do not obey societal niceties and statutes. Instead, the criminal will buy his pepper spray from out of state.

      All that this registration requirement accomplishes is hindering law-abiding citizens who with to be able to defend themselves from criminal attacks.

      The fallacious logic and naivete displayed by liberals never cease to amaze!

  • Wendy

    I am in agreement I feel that the paper work is necessary so people are educated as to its safe use however, we should not have to be held to the same criteria as if we were applying to carry a firearm. I have been a victim of both rape, robbery, and most recently 2 separate dog attacks. I feel that if I was carrying pepperspray the outcome of these situations would have been less violent I would of had a chance to well. I think that these laws need to be reviewed and make pepper-spray easier for women to obtain for use in emergency situations such as those I spoke of above.

    • guyjones

      Great; let’s make it easier for women to obtain pepper spray, but, not men, because, of course, men are NEVER crime victims! I mean, no man has ever been the victim of an assault, or a mugging, or a robbery! Those crimes ONLY happen to women!

      What you are advocating in favor of would be blatant sex-based discrimination. You feminists are so myopic and are such incredible, self-centered hypocrites.

  • DrColostomy

    What a JOKE you libtard Massholes are. 47 states allow the unregulated use of pepper spray. You dikheads would regulate toilet paper if you could. Hope you douchebags get raped while waiting for a “license” to protect yourselves…or maybe, as libtard females are so DOGASSED UGLY, you have nothing to worry about!