Spraying the distance with self defense options

by Emmilly Nguyen , Staff Columnist

It has become an all-too-familiar sight: A little pink pepper-spray keychain hanging off of a set of keys on and around college campuses. Pepper spray is often a preferred and  highly recommended self-defense weapon. But that’s just it; it’s a weapon. It’s a weapon that freely hangs off a keychain and is twirled around like a toy. Meanwhile, our male counterparts can potentially get into trouble for carrying a pocket knife of any sort. Although both can be used as a form of self-defense and a weapon, one is perfectly acceptable while the other completely taboo.

San Diego State’s Police Department can’t officially recommend the use of pepper spray, or any self-defense tactic over another, however, individual officers do recommend pepper spray for female students as protection against rape or mugging or other sorts of attacks.

This neglects the male students who are still susceptible to those crimes, but aren’t offered the same concern and advice in respect to self defense.

According to  SDSU’s Center for Students Rights and Services, “Possession or misuse of firearms or guns, replicas, ammunition, explosives, fireworks, knives, other weapons or dangerous chemicals (without the prior authorization of the campus president) on campus or at a university related activity” is considered as grounds for discipline.

In conjunction with university regulations, according to California state-laws, concealed weapons are punishable by law and can lead to jail time. Whether it’s a pocket knife or a Swiss Army knife, if the blade isn’t showing the weapon is considered concealed. However, it’s completely legal to carry pepper spray and use it without any special state or federal permit.

Although self-defense is anything one can use or do to get out of harm’s way, it’s definitely possible for self-defense weapons to be used offensively with malicious intent to harm, or engage in illegal activity.

The solution is simple: Either the school can ban both, or it can accept both as self-defense mechanisms.”

From guns to pepper sprays, California takes weapons laws very seriously and enforces strict laws on weapons.

California laws regulates the size of pepper spray canisters — legal size being 2.5 ounces. Pepper sprays must be used only for self-defense purposes and if not, users can be subjected to fines of $1000 or three years in prison. In addition, convicted felons, drug addicts and minors can’t purchase, possess or use pepper spray.

As long as the knife abides by the 2.5 inch rule, as stated in California Penal Codes, it should be acceptable on campus as a self-defense weapon. Plus, utility knives are extremely resourceful and are often carried without any intentions of self-defense or ill will. Not all knives will be used for evil, just as not all pepper sprays will be used for good.

Pepper spray is great because it can be projected up to 10-20 feet, meaning an individual can avoid physical contact with a greater chance of escaping the attack.

Pepper spray is oftentimes the preferred self-defense weapon because there are usually no lasting effects. It’s biodegradable and its burning effects should dissipate within four-to-six hours after exposure. However, the self-defense tactic depends very much on the situation.

With that being said, pocket knives and utility knives should not be under the strict scrutiny as they are now. If one is unable to escape without physical confrontation, more desperate measures should be taken. Obviously, if the blade were to be less than 2.5 inches and to be used in self-defense, the attacker would need to be close enough to the victim to pose risk.

Whatever the sex, students should be able to protect themselves against attackers with pepper sprays and pocket knives alike. One has to wonder what rights are being taken away in regard to safety, and how much safety knives actually provide when self-defense options are compromised.