Washington D.C., or the District of Columbia, used to be the country’s murder capital back in the 90s.
Crime rates have fallen since, but it’s still wise to invest in personal protection if you live here.
That said, you might be wondering, is pepper spray legal in DC?
Defensive sprays are known to be effective against attackers.
Moreover, unlike destructive devices like guns, they won’t cause permanent bodily harm.
The question is whether the pepper spray law allows civilian possession of a self-defense spray.
Here’s the lowdown on what you can and can’t do with pepper spray in DC.
Is Pepper Spray Legal in DC?
Washington DC is notorious for its strict laws against powerful weapons like firearms, at least when compared to other states.
That is why its relatively permissive stance on defensive sprays comes as a surprise.
Outside of a few restrictions, people in DC are free to carry legal spray in certain places.
What is more, pretty much all defensive spray formulas are allowed. It includes tear gas, CN, and CS mixes.
Even blends and combination sprays constitute an allowed self-defense spray.
As long as it does not cause a high degree of injury or lasting harm, you’re allowed to use it.
It is a concession that citizens in most other states do not enjoy.
On top of all these, there are no capacity limitations when it comes to civilian possession of legit pepper spray.
If you’re in DC, you can carry any quantity of any type of defense spray.
A Few Reminders
So far, so good, at least for the many users of pepper spray. Now, what is the catch?
One of the first things you must remember is that an aerosol container must propel the spray.
While this covers virtually any type of safety spray, the statute’s particulars allow only fine mist sprays.
Technically speaking, this should rule out foams and gels.
Even a chemical spray that emits a solid stream is a bit questionable.
Also, there are certain places throughout the district where you can’t carry it.
Other than these, the guidelines limiting access to pepper spray are straightforward.
Only those 18 years old or older are allowed to buy one, which is a given for all states.
However, anyone between the age of 14 and 17 can carry one if they have the permission of a parent or guardian.
Note that ownership of a canister of spray is not official until you register it with the local or metropolitan police department.
The state imposes this rule to discourage the misuse of this product, which can be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.
So after your purchase or successful shipping of pepper spray, ensure that you have it registered immediately.
As you can see, DC is a pretty good place for users of civilian self-defense sprays.
It is far from repressive, but it has enough laws to prevent pepper spray from becoming a free-for-all tool.
What Are the Effects of a Blast of Pepper Spray?
The pepper spray laws in DC are very encouraging if you are a big fan of personal protection.
That said, it is not a signal for you to take things lightly or adopt a cavalier attitude.
Pepper sprays can still be considered a dangerous weapon, even if it does not cause permanent bodily injury.
Understanding how it affects the human body is crucial, so you develop a deeper appreciation and respect for its use.
First, pepper spray ejects into the air as aerosol or very fine particles.
Its main ingredient is capsaicin, which is the substance that makes pepper plants like jalapeños hot.
Have you ever cut some peppers, forgotten about it, then managed to touch your eyes and face?
If so, you have a good idea of what it feels like to be sprayed with this product.
The difference is that pepper sprays have a much higher concentration of this active ingredient.
Imagine the burning sensation in the eyes, skin, mucous membranes, and everything else.
Now multiply it several times.
That should be enough to stop anyone who unlawfully assaults you.
Your attackers’ eyes will water and become very painful and difficult to open.
It can obstruct their vision significantly, giving you the chance to run away and call the attention of nearby police officers.
Most of the time, the effects of a pepper spray blast are temporary, lasting several minutes to hours.
However, there are a few cases where the spray left corneal abrasions and skin blisters.
If the target has asthma or other lung problems, they can experience difficulty breathing.
In other words, under the right (or wrong) conditions, pepper spray can cause death, although the chances are meager.
What to Do If You Accidentally Get Pepper Spray in Your Eyes
While pepper sprays look like simple devices, there is a right way of using them.
Make sure you know yours intimately to the point that handling it is instinctive.
That said, if you accidentally sprayed yourself, here’s what you should do.
Leave the Area Immediately
The first thing that you need to do is try to leave the area.
Remember that pepper sprays in DC eject fine particles in the air, so staying in place might expose you more to the irritant.
Wash Your Face
Once you have vacated the scene, look for a place where you can rinse your face.
Use cold water if possible to alleviate the effects of capsaicin.
If you have contacts, remove them so the tears in your eyes can flow more freely.
However, be careful not to rub your eyes as this will only spread the active ingredient to other areas.
At this point, you have done what you can to address the situation.
All you can do is stay calm and wait out the symptoms.
Given enough time, the pain will subside on its own.
Washington D.C. is relatively liberal when it comes to pepper spray usage.
So the answer to the question, “Is pepper spray legal in DC?” is a resounding yes.
Still, it has laws in place to ensure the safety of the user and the public.
Make sure you follow them to deploy your pepper spray effectively when needed.