BOSTON (State House News Service) – The Massachusetts House and Senate are now both on record unanimously supporting access to pepper spray without the need of a firearm identification card.
The Senate on Thursday voted 39-0 in favor of a Sen. Richard Ross budget amendment that would allow people to buy and carry the protective spray without the FID card.
The Wrentham Republican’s amendment outlaws the unlicensed sale of pepper spray, creating a punishment of six months to two years.
Ross’s amendment also prohibits the sale of pepper spray to people under the age of 18 who do not have an FID card.
The legislation defines self-defense spray as “chemical mace or any device or instrument which contains or emits a liquid, gas, powder or any other substance designed to incapacitate,” and it requires retailers to be licensed under the state’s ammunition sale law.
The amendment restricts certain people from possessing pepper spray based on their criminal history, mental health and substance abuse.
Criminal convictions for a variety of crimes, including misdemeanors with a penalty of more than two years, drug and weapon offenses, would preclude people from possessing pepper spray for a period of time based on their sentences. People who have been confined to a mental institution would also be restricted, as would people who have been treated for drug addiction or habitual drunkenness.
The House previously passed its own pepper spray bill, attaching it April 8 to a bill aimed at combating domestic violence. That amendment was sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, a Holden Republican, and cleared the House 142-0.
Sen. James Timilty, a Walpole Democrat, said the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where he is Senate chairman, has reported the bill favorably in past sessions.