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Protecting yourself with pepper spray is illegal and that's not changing

The minister says protecting citizens is the job of the gardai.

Image: Shutterstock/Matthias G. Ziegler

YOU’D NEED A firearms licence to own pepper spray but you’re not allowed to get one, and there are no plans to change that.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed last week that there are no plans to allow members of the public use pepper spray for personal protection.

Pepper spray is banned under the 1925 Firearms Act which prohibits the manufacture, possession or sale of “weapons discharging noxious liquids”.

Conviction for carrying pepper spray is considered a misdemeanour offence and could lead to five years in prison but a fine is the much more likely sentence.

Labour TD Derek Nolan asked the Justice Minister in the Dáil last week were there any plans to change the law to allow members of the public the use of pepper spray for civil protection.

But the Justice Minister shot down the suggestion, referring to 2009 garda guidelines which states that people cannot be granted a firearms licence for personal protection.

“The protection of life and property is a function of the Garda Síochána and civilians are only entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property,” the minister said. “The combined effect of this means that there is no justification for seeking to possess a firearm for purposes of personal protection or protection of property.

“As personal protection is the only reason for a person to acquire pepper spray, it follows that a firearm certificate is unlikely to be granted for pepper spray.”

“I do not envisage amending the legislation to permit the use of pepper spray for civil protection,” she added.

What do you think, Should pepper spray be allowed for self-defence?


Poll Results:

Yes (10162)
No (1483)


Read: Anger outside Coolock Garda Station after water charge protesters are arrested >

Read: Man charged after kicking in door and attacking McDonald’s staff with pepper spray >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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