The Instigator
athxna
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
AbcedarianMufti
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Should pepper spray be legalised in the UK?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 469 times Debate No: 98651
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

athxna

Pro

Pepper spray is currently illegal in the UK, as it is considered a weapon, and as stated under 5(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968, 'A person commits an offence if [...] he has in his possession [...] any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of noxious liquid, gas, or other thing'. It can be used by police officers for policing, and crowd control.

Pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent, meaning that it is a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness. The active ingredient which causes these effects is capsaicin, a chemical derived from the fruit of the plants in the pepper family. The average effects of pepper spray lasts for thirty minutes, with longer effects lasting for hours.

I believe that it should be legalised, as it provides a way for someone to defend themselves in case of an attack, without causing permanent damage to the offender. The effects of pepper spray allows the victim time to get away from the offender, and get the help they need. It can be argued that the UK is a safe place, but looking at figures, there are still many victims of crime. There are 104,420 counts of reported violent crime in England and Wales in November 2016 alone. This doesn't include the counts of violent crime that may not have been reported. If pepper spray was legalised, these 104,420 victims would not be helpless. The temporary blindness can distract the offender enough for the victim to seek help, and it can stop the crime from escalating further, and potentially becoming fatal. Therefore, we should legalise pepper spray as a means of defence.
AbcedarianMufti

Con

In my opponent's first speech, they make two major claims. First off, that the effects of pepper spray are temporary, and second, that pepper spray can decrease crime.

Against my opponents first claim, pepper spray can and has caused permanent damage. Contact with skin does cause the effects that the Pro list, but breathing in pepper spray is another story. According to Scientific American, effects of inhaling pepper spray, or OC Spray, include "adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic[al] effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death." In fact, 70 people died while in police custody due to OC spray inhalation in 1995, according to an article by disinfo.com. Although the active ingredient is capsaicin, it includes other dangerous ingredients. Green Media Info describes it best, by listing the ingredients as, "anti-freeze (propylene glycol), benzyl alcohol, and a variety of other strange-sounding chemicals, nearly impossible to pronounce, and with next to no toxicological data available to confirm or refute their safety." In fact, the same article mentions the little known fact that OC spray is a chemical weapon, no different in principle than something like CS gas. Clearly, pepper spray is not a force for good.

The idea that OC gas can help lower crime is also false. The US has pepper spray, and as CNN reports, violent crimes increased in cities in 2016, even though pepper spray is widely available, especially in urban areas, where OC spray is more common than firearms. So, even though around a hundred thousand cases of violent crimes happened in England and Wales, the fact of the matter is, pepper spray won't help.
Sources:
http://www.greenmedinfo.com...
http://www.cnn.com...
http://disinfo.com...
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...
Debate Round No. 1
athxna

Pro

Refuting the first claim that pepper spray can cause permanent damage, there are risks involved in most every day activities. For example, you would consider riding bikes safe, right? Well in 2014, there were 113 deaths and 3,401 serious injuries recorded caused by cycling (1). Does this mean that we should make cycling illegal due to the risks involved with it? No; we educate people on how to do it correctly to minimise the risks. Pepper spray can cause serious damage, but that is only if used incorrectly. If we make it legal, and start educating people early on about the risks of pepper spray and how to use it correctly, then we can minimise the damages.

For your point that inhalation of pepper spray can have effects on your health, that is only after 'inhalation of high doses', stated in the same article that you provided (2). As I suggested earlier, if we educate people on how to use pepper spray as a way of defence, this is easily avoidable. When you stated that 70 people died in police custody due to inhalation of pepper spray, it is only suspected that pepper spray was linked to it; it does not state that pepper spray is the direct cause of death.

In opposition of your second point that pepper spray doesn't actually help lower crime, you failed to mention that guns are also legal in the US. Guns are not legal in the UK, and many of the crimes in the US are gun-related. As the BBC reports, 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015 (3). Pepper spray, although an effective defence mechanism, cannot compare against guns. In the UK, where guns are not legal, the largest proportion of crimes are linked with Anti-Social Behaviour (4), which is harassment. Pepper spray can help lower this crime

Sources:
(1) http://www.rospa.com...
(2) http://disinfo.com...
(3) http://www.bbc.co.uk...
(4) http://www.ukcrimestats....
AbcedarianMufti

Con

My opponent makes no new claims, but does attempt to refute the points that I make.

My opponent claims that the dangers of pepper spray are no different than the dangers of riding a bicycle. However, my opponent neglects to mention the fact that I pointed out in my last speech, that OC spray is a chemical weapon. This means that comparing it to a bicycle is grossly inaccurate. The example I used is a much more apt comparison, between pepper spray and tear gas. In fact, the title of the disinfo.com article that both sides use is titled, "Pepper Spray Is Harmful, Tortuously Painful, And Can Be Deadly," which means that if my opponent agrees that this is a reliable source, they also agree with the point of the article, to show that OC gas is a deadly compound and not just aerosolized jalapenos. As the disinfo article points out, "the burning from so-called pepper spray is ten times more intense than that of the hottest peppers in existence."

My opponent also attempts to claim education about OC spray will stop misuse, which is unfortunately not true. Misuse still occurs in the United States, even though OC spray and the associated effects are well known. Also, OC spray is not merely a way of defense, but it used against protesters in America commonplace. Standing Rock is one example in America where protesters are doused with a specialized OC spray known as bear mace.

On the topic of criminality, your two speeches do not match. On your first speech, your mention violent crimes as the reason for OC spray. Yet, in the breakdown used by http://www.ukcrimestats..., the two are separate categories. This means that there was no defense against my point on VIOLENT crimes, and the argument about Anti-Social Behavior is a new argument. On the topic of Anti-Social Behavior, UKCrimeStats already shows a drop in that crime. The only categories that increased involved some form of theft or vehicle. OC spray is unnecessary to drop AS behavior rates because they already dropped.
Debate Round No. 2
athxna

Pro

OC gas is only deadly when inhaled in high doses. I am arguing to use legalise it as a means of defence, which means it wouldn't be inhaled in high doses, and therefore wouldn't be lethal. Yes, it is a chemical weapon, and yes, it does cause burning, but this is what allows the victim time to get away, survive the attack, and seek help. It is the best form of non-lethal defence, as you can spray it from a safe distance away, and there are also many models of it which are small and compact, making it safe and easy to carry around in case of an attack. Without the burning, your attacker will not be subdued.

I agree that there has been cases of misuse, but you fail to mention that the large majority of pepper spray owners carry it as a means of self defence. The proportion of pepper spray misuse is very small, so would you rather that more people be at risk, due to this small number of individuals who misuse it? Also, the effects are temporary, and can be treated, so the victim will be in pain for a short while, but will not be permanently effected. With the Standing Rocks example, media often portray the protesters as being victims of unnecessary violence from the police, but we can see that police reacted with pepper spray as protesters were breaking laws, and had been given multiple warning (1). It wasn't as uncalled for as we believed.

I argue that we should legalise pepper spray as a means of defence against crime, and both violent crime and ASB fall under it. In my first argument, I never mentioned that we should legalise pepper spray as a way of lowering crime rates, I said that we should offer it as a means of defence. I confess that I mentioned that it could lower ASB crimes in my second argument, which you say already dropped, but there is still a large number of ASB crime, which means lots of victims. Pepper spray provides defence.

Sources:
(1) http://www.cbsnews.com...
AbcedarianMufti

Con

Against my opponent's first claim, they argue that since OC spray is a means of self defense, it won't be used in high doses. Yet, there is no reasoning behind this argument. No where does my opponent show that self-defense usage decreases the overall lethality of the gas, primarily because that is false. In the words of The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, "7% of those who are sprayed have sustained corneal abrasions." In their words: "corneal abrasions are not rare events when patients are exposed to pepper spray."Corneal Abrasions are no joke, and they occur routinely according to the evidence.

Against my opponent's second claim, my opponent states that the large majority of pepper spray usage is not abusive, yet offers no support for the claim. Yet again, in my opponent's speech, they claim the effects of OC gas are temporary, even though there have been cases where people have experienced neurological damage, cardiac effects, and respiratory problems, with some cases ending in death. (As shown in my first speech.) In my opponent's last point on this subject, the Standing Rock protesters were arrested for rioting, even though a peaceful protest is occurring. As many activist have pointed out, this is just a way for police siding with DAPL to arrest protesters for no reason.

In my opponent's final statements, they argue that legalizing OC spray would provide a means of defense, even though in my first speech I already proved that OC spray doesn't help. My opponent also claims that they ASB crimes need to drop further, although they admit they are already dropping. Adding new variables, such as OC spray, could potentially damage that trend.

I thank athxna for starting and providing an excellent clash in this round while urging a con vote.

Sources:
http://www.opednews.com...
https://www.theguardian.com...
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by athxna 1 year ago
athxna
AbcedarianMufti, thank you for this debate. You brought in some points that were very well argued that I hadn't previously considered. Through your arguments, I learnt some facts which I didn't previously know, so thank you for this providing this opportunity for me to learn more on this subject. Whatever the outcome is, I want to thank you for this enlightening debate, and I wish you the best of luck in life :)
Posted by scroobiuspip 1 year ago
scroobiuspip
while we are still in europe, european law trump ours on this. As it is classified as a non-lethal weapon, over 18's can carry pepper spray in the EU.
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