MLAs fight over self-defence

| 11/10/2011

(CNS): Although both government and opposition members are in agreement that the use of pepper spray as a form of self-defence for law abiding adults should be legalized, both sides of the Legislative Assembly managed to turn the issue into a political fight on Monday when the MLAs returned to the House. A private members motion filed by the opposition leader asking government to change the necessary laws to allow people to use self-defence chemical sprays for personal protection without requiring a licence saw the two sides divide when government filed an amendment to the opposition motion to insert a requirement for a licence.

While both sides agreed on the principle, the PPM and UDP members still managed to clash over how the proposal should move forward. Backbench government member for George Town Ellio Solomon accused Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin of being “irresponsible and reckless” with what he said was a poorly worded motion that could make things worse by putting pepper spray into the hands of criminals. After Solomon tabled the amendment to require people be “licenced” to use the sprays, he said they were too dangerous and could not be used unchecked. Government supported the principle but wanted restrictions, the UDP backbencher said as he accused the opposition leader of “wanting five-year olds” to be able to purchase the pepper spray.

McLaughlin pointed out that the opposition was not advocating that there be no restrictions at all on the sale or importation of the sprays but explained that he was trying to avoid the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that a licensing system on the users could create. The opposition leader said by government insisting that users had to have a licence they would water down the spirit of the motion, which was designed to find a straight forward way to allow women in particular a simple accessible means of self defence against the rising crime. The PPM leader said his motion had been reasonable but as the government had the numbers they would be able to change it as they wished.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin accused his predecessor of political theatrics and said all government was doing was adding “belt and braces” to the amendment, which Anglin said had not been properly thought through. He accused the opposition leader of trying to suggest that there was a “plethora of women out there” that were under attack, but he said things were not that bad. He warned that if criminals were able to get their hands on pepper spray they would not hesitate to use it.

A recent court case revealed that criminals already seem to have access to the spray as a teenager pleaded guilty to using pepper spray during a failed armed robbery at Grand Harbour in May.

As the younger politicians indulged in a point scoring exercise about the motion, the opposition’s two veteran politicians both attempted to steer the debate back to a sensible compromise.

The second elected member for Bodden Town, Anthony Eden, who seconded the original motion suggested that the politicians could, if they all supported the principle, find some way to cut through the nonsense and agree on what restrictions should be in place short of licensing users. The former opposition leader, Kurt Tibbetts, echoed his sentiments when he suggested that there could be a middle ground between government’s position that the original motion was too open ended and the opposition stance that the government’s amendment was too restricted, before the House was adjourned until Wednesday morning.

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  1. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    The parties argue over licensing pepper spray for women to protect themselves while any criminal can get a 9mm or mac10 and the island cannot stop the influx of illegal arms. Argue about how to get Cayman gun free and let people protect themselves.

    Lachlan MacTavish

  2. Anonymous says:

    A few points:

    – Why do we automatically assume that pepper spray will be abused? 

    – Yes, there sould be an age limit of 18 to purchase.

    – No, we do not need to license pepper spray. It's not a deadly weapon. It burns the eyes. it does not put a hole in someones head. Maybe now we will be able to catch some of these perps. It's going to be hard to hide red burn eyes.

    – Restricting the sell only to women is unfortunantely useless. These "gansters" if you can even call them that (children trying to act like men with a gun in their sagging pants) will send their girlfriends to buy it if they really want it that bad. I'm sure they prefer their big boy guns and wouldn'tlook as cool with a 3in. bottle of big boy pepper spray.

    – Alternative solution, carry wasp spray. It sprays up to 15 ft! 

    – It is absurd that women are not aloud to carry any form of protection. Cayman is not a crime free quite little island anymore and unfortunantely we have to change with the times and adapt. 

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Section 78(1) of the Penal Code reads: “In sections 79 to 83 – “offensive weapon” means any object made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him”  To make a long story short, carrying “wasp spray” for personal protection is unlawful, because you have "adapted" it. 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        I'm no legal beagle, but I think you are confusing the word adapted with adopted. If you sharpen the edges of a "wasp spray" then you have "adapted" it. If you take it for some use other than killing wasps then you have merely "adopted" it for that purpose.

  3. T.L. Haranguer says:

    No. This is a bad idea, and it will be poorly done.

    • notagain:::8 says:

      I wish you allwould listen to your selves, no this is not a good idea, but gt a bottle of scotch bonnet, etc. I lived over seas also and I were privelledged to carry my pepper spray. I had to fill out forms at the sporting good store  of my identity and so forth, but I was allowed to carry it, I never had to use it BUT I had the comfort of knowing that I had a choice.

      This is whats wrong with cayman, no foresight and alot of fear mongering.  Let the citizens have a choice.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don't see the need for this pepper spray, surely a jar of scotch bonnet sauce is adequate protection.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Personally, if I had to choose I'd prefer criminals walking around with cans of pepper spray and deal with the temporary effects; rather than the guns they are currently over-powering us all with and its permanent effect of DEATH!   The pros outweigh the cons here, isn't it obvious??  

    After all, the need for a gun license has made the use of firearms obsolete (insert sarcastic smiley here).  

    My vote:  Require a license for use, provide training, document every canister released with recorded serial numbers, and please lets not try to "get-rich-quick" with ridiculous licensing fees and make the cost feasible for all classes of society.

  6. The Prophet says:

    I think that for a person to have a pepper Spray, they should have to obtain a licence.  My reasons are that this can fall into the hands of anyone, even children, even persons can buy it and take it overseas where it is illegal.  Children will end up with them in schools, on the buss and teens will be taking them to night clubs and allover the place.  Yes a licence should be approved.   Persons must be able to proove why it is necessary to have this.

    I do nope the government does not allow this to be sold without a licence.  Besides that I think it should be sold only from the police department just like getting a drivers licence.  You have to take your passport and fill out a form before you can purchase.  It is very wise, and if we do not do it then we will suffer the consequences.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Some Bloggers seem to be missing the point. The sprays need to be licensed to stop idiots & even more thugs & youngsters carrying them, & indescriminate use of them. If such things are freely available here they will be used far too often in the wrong circumstances by idiots. It will also become a legal weapon for criminals to carry & use. Having them here will not stop any of the gun crime or robberies that are happening & will increase the risk of violence escalating in each case. They should only be carried by RCIPS & trained security guards. If the public don't like that, turn the thugs in or deal with them.

  8. Grow up says:

    This is not friggin rocket science, a licence for vendors (similar to those issued for tobacco) and a minimum legal age to purchase is sufficent.

    Me, I carry a bottle of 357 Mad Dog Ghost Pepper sauce, no licence required and comes in handy when out to dinner too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My advice to anyone intending to own and use pepper spray, or any other non-lethal or lethal tool for self-defense is to access a good TRAINING PROVIDER and complete a certified course of instruction in its properties, uses and potential to cause harm to the owner/user.

    Such courses should include instruction in the legal parameters, and pressure-based, scenario-based training where the user is taught to apply skillful usage under simulated attacks.

    Untrained, attempted use of most self-defense tools, especially pepper spray, will more than likely result in the defender injuring themselves with their own weapons/tools under a real attack, rather than doing any harm to their attacker…or having their weapon/tool taken away and use against them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Law abiding citizens?? So what are regulations on purchasing this? What if someone who is considered a law abiding citizen purchased for the resale at a higher price to trouble makers? This is a bad idea and if passed you will see its bites us in the ass within the first week of being legal.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am fed up. The Premier and his bunch refuse to do anything to bring in laws that are tough on violent criminals and now they oppose the people defending themselves. Shows you who they support.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Some facts on Pepper Spray courtesy off Wiki:

    Pepper spray is largely a banned weapon around the world, some states in the US have restrictions, NY requires a form filling process and you can't bring it in from other states, some states have no restrictions whatsoever, some have size limitations, Canada view it as a prohibited weapon but allow guns, it's banned from use in warfare under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Pepper spray can kill, or at least be a factor in death.  

    To me it seems like its not an easy one to answer, but I think I would be more at home if it was introduced, that it be done on a restrictive basis with some form of registration and central distribution with limitations on the size of product available.  However, I think you would end up giving away some liberty if you carried this stuff, in that you would expect to be challenged as to whether you are permitted to carry it.

    The downside is unintended consequences, the scum always attack the weak, so if every able bodied person starts carrying this stuff then they will likely target those who aren't going to carry it – the young and old and the tourists become the easy options, who defends them?

    The other option is just to hand it out at the airport, welcome to Cayman, have some pepper spray, careful not to get it confused with your suntan lotion!

  13. Old Sea Captain says:

    "MLAs Fight Over self defence"  When I saw this title I tried to buy tickets as I thought it was a rematch. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    Would be more afraid of people walking around with pepper spray freely and using it whenever, whereever they wanted, even using it to spray people as a joke…yes, there are those stupid people around.

  15. Anonymous says:

    LA can direct policy to help ensure concealed sprays go to the right people:  OC-based sprays only.  Sales to adults only (with Police Clearance Certificate and annual quota = 1, only exceptions with a Police report).  No public importation – sole distributor RCIPS who should stock Purse/Jogger size only (11 grams, versus the bear repellent sizes with 260grams).  RCIPS could sponsorsupervised safety classes and target practice if there was interest.    

    Limits are important if for no other reason that for the sake of the 3 ambulances on the island.  We have to ensure that these sprays are not being regularly discharged all over the island on any given weekend.  We don't have the resources to deal with that kind of chaos.  Particularly when there may be real emergencies to attend to.  


  16. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't mind a little pepper spray to improve the taste of the food whenever I am invited to eat at one of our "fancy" restaurants.

  17. Swine says:

    Pepper spray is foolishness….why cant we get tasers? At least we would be able to hold the attacker until police arrive to arrest them….Everyone can walk around with a couple of zipties and just strap them up once they have been tased, then we can all be policemen…yaaaayyyy

  18. Anonymous says:

    The only reason for licensing that I can see is that some politician is going to take an exclusive monopoly to import pepper spray issued by government and will sell the licenses as well.

  19. Say what? says:

    Here is my take on this…PEPPER SPRAY VRS GUNS ….just plain foolish!

  20. anonymouse says:

    Are you kidding me ? licence for pepper spay ? We all know the government needs money but that is ridiculous. One less mystery trip by our premier should take care of that. Criminals have all kinds of weapons UNLICENCED and they don't discriminate either. Common do the right thimg for once and let us have a little protection without RED TAPE that will not be enforced..

    • Jan says:

      As a woman I have thought more than once about my personal protection especially with my small children, but I agree with Govt. their needs to be some control mechanisms but in place so that these items do not cross hands to the wrong persons.  Yes, there are ways that people can get around this by having others purchase on their behalf but their should be a age limit, a clean police record and a valid ID with the persons address so that we can trace back canisters that are used for unlawful acts.  There has to be some control put in place and if it cost us a few bucks to do so and a quick turn around time, I would be more than happy to pay for it.  Mr. Solomon, put my name on the list to pay my fee and get my pepper spray!

      • Anonymous says:

        Jan I am in total agreement. Without it being controlled any teenager, who shouldn't be on the road alone, as well as criminals could get this stuff. It has to be controlled. It is a dangerous chemical!

  21. Anonymous says:

    A license for pepper spray?!?!? who are some of these morons sitting in our LA.. jeeez! You know what… if someone attacks me I will do and use WHATEVER I can get my hands on to defend myself and that person better hope they survive .. im not waiting on the LA to tell me its ok to defend myself!

    • Anonymous says:

      And who is the moron writing these kind of comments?  The criminal element themselves?

    • Anonymous says:

      I live in the US and have a license for pepper spray. I had to go to the police station and be photo's and finger printed, etc.  There is a small training for the use of pepper spray and I believe the cost was $40. I have to carry a license card every time I have the pepper spray on me. I have never used it, but in certain circumstances and areas where my job takes me, I am glad that I have it. I also know how to use it and that it also could be used against me if I am overpowered or if I spray it and it comes back at me in the wind.

      I also carry a personal safety alarm. I feel safer with the alarm as all I have to do is trigger a small pin (very easy to do). This alarm will not go unnoticed such as a car alarm and I believe it would scare the &%$# out of anyone not expecting it. I still have the chance of being overpowered, but I do not have the chance of spray blowing back at me.

      Just my 2 cents.

  22. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Contrary to what MLA Solomon said in the legislative assembly, the website says it is lawful for mace or pepper spray to be checked into the baggage of passengers for travelon an airplane to and from the USA.  

    The correctness of his view is an important consideration because it will affect how the laws are amended.  It is my view that owners of those sprays should be able to easily carry the can they own with them on vacation to the USA and return with it to the Cayman Islands without feeling a like a criminal.  I can only hope that common sense prevails here.

  23. Anonymous says:

    There are other alternatives available to pepper spray.If the intent is to disable an attacker from causing harm, all that has to be done is to create an effect on them that will halt any attack & allow the intended victim safe time to escape, without neccessarily causing the attacker long term side effects. These are available at any hardware or automotive store in spray form. Under any law however, it will be ridiculous that a person must have a license to carry WD-40 on themselves for defense. There are two other more 'efficient' sprays, but I'll not mention those here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, that's dangerous advise.  In a real life a death scenario, WD-40, wasp spray, and other household stuff will just piss your attacker off.  If that's what you have in your pocket, best not to do anything and live to see another day.  Pepper spray doesn't need to get in the eyes toblind and disable.  You're not going to get that result with Pam or Baygon.


    • noname says:

      There are plenty of alternatives to pepper spray, not all of them lethal.

      My wife and I have bolasses and regularly practice with them on the beach. Originally designed to bring down cattle on the high pampas of south america, equally, they will disable an intruder and prevent any further escape!

      They can be made easily out of rope and small green coconuts.

  24. Hot Lead says:

    Let folks have 9mms if you are serious about self defence! This is merely a political stunt from both sides.


    Let us get real, if someone arrives in my house with a gun I am not going to shout "stop or I will spray you". I need a potential deterrent where the criminlal does not know if he is going to take my CD player or take my lead.


    Lets get the 'potential' of guns in each and every house and business then let the criminals think twice. It workfor the US and Russia for 60 years with both sides armed to the teeth with nuke bombs it can work here. Don't want a gun in your house-okay, your choice, but the criminal will not know if you have one or not. As for the easy pickings they are having with the stores and gas stations- that will end for sure.

  25. Anonymous says:

    No matter what the Opposition says the UDP says  "NO".  It reminds me of the Republicans in the US  Congress  whenever the Democrats suggest something .

    It's all about politics and not the citizens safety.  As many have said before me the criminals have the guns and pepper spray already. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why can't people just make sense out of non-sense?  The UDP is not opposing the recommendations brought forward by the Opposition, they are just adding some stipulations that should be included in purchasing mace and pepper spray.  It is a security issue, why is that so hard to accept.  Gee

      • Anonymous says:

        So what you are saying is that the UDP is saying nonsense but you are trying to make sense of it?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Legalizing pepper spray is a knee-jerk, ill considered, draconian, and nonsensical proposal designed to give everyone a false sense of security.   It just means the criminals will arm themselves with greater firepower in anticipation that everyone will have a spray in their pocket, and they'll be quicker to discharge a round if someone reaches into their procket during a heist.  Furthermore, it will only be a matter of time before a child with asthma dies because of anaccidental discharge of his mother's pepper spray cannister. This legislation will add absolutely nothing to personal security. 

    • Anonymous says:

      so is it not legal in other countries as well and are ALL criminals prepared because they think that everyone has pepperspray or mace to protect themselves?  Just because it becomes legal does not mean that everyone will take advantage and get one… Please think before you talk!

    • Kent McTaggart says:

      What world are you living in?  go look under your kitchen cabinet and see how many products can be accidentally discharged and some innocent child "could" die from it. 

      I get overwhelmed with this passive ostrich syndrome that so many like you seem to have.  This is not a knee jerk type of action, it is an action that sould have been actioned a very long time ago! 

      The young man that was brutally attacked in an elevator and only survived because of his ability to implement his martial arts training used the only tactical advantage he had to save his life.  What tactical advantage to you have if someone mistakes your identity and attacks you?  Some kind words?  A lesson in ethics? What?

      There is a city in Georgia (USA) that REQUIRES the ownership if a working firearm and ammunition for each and every household*.  This would seem to be a crazy idea huh? Well Kennesaw Ga. as one of the lowest crime rates in the greater Atlanta area.  In areas like Kennesaw you have what are called responsible gun owners.  Responsible gun owners know how to keep their guns out of childrens hands, they know how and when to use their guns, and they sure as hell are not going to let a govenment or liberal activist tell them they can't protect themselves or their family. 

      I long for the days when I was growing up here, and we slept with our windows open, we left the house unlocked, we never even took the keys out of the car.  Oh those were the days, but I understand that the world has changed, and although nobody likes it, we all need to be willing to change with it, or we will get eaten up by it.

      Kind regards


      *with exceptions

  27. Anonymous says:

    What I see happening here is Pure unadulterated political c**p. Excuse me…isn't there an age restriction on the purchase and use of alcohol and tobacco products?Cannot an age restriction also be placed on the pepper spray? Come on you legislators, use your brains for a change, if you have any!

  28. hmm says:

    I think this is just a ploy by Ellio to find out what Alden is packin when he walks into the LA break room.



  29. noname says:

    Seriously people! I guess licensing guns has prevented them from getting into the hands of the criminals too right???

  30. Anonymous says:

    Honestly the criminals will not be buying Pepper Spray!!!  they have GUNS remember? So wth are they gonna do with pepper spray?

    • Anonymous says:

      A more lenient prison sentence.  They'll be looking at 3-5 instead of 10-20.

      • Anonymous says:

        Is it a bad thing if the criminals switch to pepper spray? Your line of thought indicates a predisposition to rendering the population defenseless.

        • Anonymous says:

          Pepper spray is not the sole means to defend one's self.  Mental accuity and situational awareness should be much higher on the priority list for the general public (who are not the targets of the crime we're hearing about).  Be honest with yourself, in contrast to the violence of the rest of the world, Cayman is really not that dangerous a place for the general population.  Anyone who is really freaked out and feeling helpless, should take a self defense and/or street smart clinic long before they start flailing arms in the sky and packing pepper spray.   


  31. Anonymous says:

    The effect of Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray) is severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45-60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes.  The diminshed effects last for hours.  For those with asthma or taking synergistic drugs, the constriction of airways could be fatal.  In 1993 a US Army study concluded that pepper spray could cause mutagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity as well as possible human fatalities.  Effects are the same on good guys and bad guys.  

    • Roy says:

      So pepperspray is so unsafe we cannot have it too  readily available.  Gosh young kids might even harm themselves with it.  

      The above may be potentially true – but  let me look in my cubboard… bleach; ammonia; oven cleaner; some kind of acid for cleaning tiles & grout; bugspray, weed killer spray; Gunk cleaner, Auto wheel cleaner; and of course there is what I saw on TV once – a can of hairspray and a match apparently can make a decent (if very unsafe) mini  flamethrower.   

      Really now…  pepperspray may be harmful, at least temporarily,  but ammonia, bleach,  acid, or oven cleaner etc in the eyes can cause as much or more damage.  And these things are readily available and legal – albeit they do not have the .  And yes Elio in many homes young kids potentially have access to all of these things.  Just as they do to kitchen knives and boiling pots on the stove.  But adults take responsibility to keep unsafe things away.  

      Come on – I would feel more at ease if my wife and daughters, or my friends, had the ability to carry (the made for purpose) pepperspray on their person for some self protection – especially when the bad guys seem to all have guns or a machette.   

      So lets get over this nonsensical politicking and allow reasonable access to pepperspray so that law abiding people can have some means to protect ourselves – at least to buy a few minutes whilst one makes an escape.  


    • Anonymous says:

      Since WHEN does any Caymanian believe the results of a USA study? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it legal in the us or uk without a licence?.

      • Kent McTaggart says:

        You can walk into any Walmart or Target and by "pepper spray" as long as you are over the age of 18.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      If someone doesn’t want to be sprayed, then they should not unlawfully attack people.  To deal with misuse of the sprays, meaning for purposes other than lawful training and information or personal protection, make the misuse of those sprays a crime.

      • Anonymous says:

        The people that will likely be sprayed will be customers, security guards, and tellers in banks, quickie cash, gas stations, and perhaps our hotels.  Criminal perpetrators will be much more likely to use these on the general public since the method of attack is considered to be non lethal.  If caught they're looking at much lower sentences.  Why wouldn't they use them, and buy 4 more canisters on the way home?

        • Anonymous says:

          Is it bad if they use pepper spray instead of guns?

        • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

          Wow, you have such a defeatist mentality.  What makes you think criminals will always get away?  More importantly, why should I even consider trusting my safety to such weak and mentally defeated people?

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand your concerns about this and it is quite a legitimate concern, but if you were caught in a corner with your 8 year old daughter and 10 year old son by a man who only intends to do you bodily hard and maybe even molest you or your children, would you not prefer to have some form of defense to protect yourself and your love ones which may ultimately cause your death to the attacker but then if you didn't have this defense it may be your death or your children's death, which would you choose?

      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody particularly cares what happens to the bad guys in that scenario, it's just naive to assume that only the good guyswill have these at their disposal if they are made widely available.  Handheld power is appeailing to both sides.  The petty criminal and gang initiators will be much more inclined to use these on us, especially at $10 a pop price point and with minimal legal consequence.

      • Anonymous says:

        And then similarly a drunk driver crashes into your car at night and then threatens to spray his own can of mace at you and your children if you go to the police to report him because he too feels it is his right to protect himself with mace (protect himself from going to jail).


        Everyones interpretation will be different of when they feel it is ok to use self defence. Soon the criminals robbing your homes will be spraying mace at the owners and claiming thatthe owner was going to attack them so they got in there first. We'll see plenty of people getting sprayed because somebody wanted to hit them with it first before they got the chance to feel threatened.

        There are too many corrupt, uneducated, bigoted, egotistic numpties here to let them loose with mace, and thats just the bible bashers and politicians, think how the general population will cope.

  32. Anony Mous says:

    Gentle men, come on now, all of this is petty. Criminals already have access to pepper spray and they do not use it, so license or no license if it is some thing that they want they will have it. It is us the law abiding one who need some form of personal protection whether it is that effective on criminals or not. If it is the extra income that the government need from the license of our personal protection, then say so. But if you look at it another way, the government will be collecting a hefty sum from it's import duty which we will have to pay from our pockets, which in return it may just be saving the government some money by reducing the need for importing extra police officers in the future as violent crimes may decrease. At the moment we can't even have a good old piece of 2X4 or a good pocket knife in or possession, but criminals have guns, so why the need for a license for pepper spray. Are you thinking of charging us to license a piece of 2X4 as well?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Let people have pepper spray. We don't need no stinking licenses!

    • Anonymous says:

      right on amigo

    • Anonymous says:

      They are afraid the criminals will get their hands on it.  Pick me up off the floor I have been laughing so hard, I can't get up.  Come on, have they forgotten already all the robberies and murders being committed by GUNS???? I think maybe they should spend a little bit more resources on finding out HOW these guns are getting into the cayman islands so easily.  I have not seen one single article on this. 

      • Jan says:

        well if you have any thoughts on how they are doing it why don't you share it!?!?  Everyone is so eager to point fingers and say why don't you do this or why don't they do that,, well why don't you give them some suggestions or ideas on where they could be coming in from.  We as the public need to stop critizing and accusing and start helping with the problem and not hinding it!!  I am so frustrated about everyone ranging on UDP or PPM but not trying to help come up with a solution.  These men and woman that make up the Government are human being just like you and me, they can use our help with this problem too.  

      • Anonymous says:

        I can tell you how the guns are getting onto the island. Same way the drugsare by speed boat at night from JA. Make an order and prepay one week receive your goods the next.