Massachusetts lawmakers in both the House and Senate are now on record as unanimously supporting access to pepper spray without having a firearm identification card.
The Senate on Thursday voted 39 to 0 in favor of Senator Richard Ross’s budget amendment that would allow people to buy and carry the protective spray without the card.
The Wrentham Republican’s amendment outlaws the unlicensed sale of pepper spray, creating a punishment of six months to two years in jail.
Ross’s amendment also prohibits the sale of pepper spray to people under the age of 18 who do not have a 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, including misdemeanors with a penalty of more than two years in jail, and drug and weapon offenses, would preclude people from possessing pepper spray for a period 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 amendment, attaching it on April 8 to a measure aimed at combating domestic violence. That amendment was sponsored by Representative Kimberly Ferguson, a Holden Republican, and cleared the House 142 to 0.