MPD: No You May Not Use Wasp Spray for Self Defense

Photo by PoPville flickr user K’s Clicks

On the heels of yesterday’s discussion about the recent violence around the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Ave, SE a resident asked MPD:

“I’ve heard it is better than pepper spray because it shoots a greater distance (20-30)feet. Also heard both yes and no regarding legality. And just what IS legal in DC? Mace? Pepper Spray? Would be a horrible thing to be arrested due to using a spray while warding an attacker.”

MPD quickly responded:

“An item like wasp spray- although legal to address bees, is not legal to possess with the intent to use unlawfully. Another example would be a carpet knife- has legitimate uses, but if being carried around for illegal purposes then the possession would be illegal.”

Brings up an interesting question – what are the legal means for self defense when walking the streets? As the original question asked – would you really be arrested for using wasp spray to ward off an attack?

39 Comment

  • I had to use Raid Wasp spray to kill a nest in the corner of the porch roof. It killed the wasp as soon as the spray hit them
    So yes, it would probably do some eye damage if it was sprayed in somebodys face.

  • Whatever you do, DON’T carry a Masterlock around to use as a single-knuckle “brass knuckles.” Also, ladies, NEVER carry a brick in your purse. You may be tempted to use it to bludgeon an attacker.

    • And what about brass knuckles for ladies that look like a cat’s face, but then you put your fingers through the eyes and stab at someone with the sharpened ears? Not that I would carry these as a man. I have a friend with this item. Not that it would be pussified if it were mine — to revisit some of yesterday’s language. It’d be fine.

  • And don’t use wasp spray on honeybees, like the ones in the above picture.

  • Obviously you could cause permanent damage using wasp spray. Where as pepper spray just debilitates them for a while.

  • I believe you are really only allowed to carry a knife with a blade less than 3 inches, and that might not even be legal if you don’t have another use for it. You can always carry various forms of self defense sprays. You can search the DC Code here:

    for specific types of weapons you are interested in and see what comes up. For example, section 7-2502.12 says that legal forms of “…Self-defense spray means a mixture of a lacrimator including chloroacetophenone, alphacloracetophenone, phenylchloromethylketone, orthochlorobenazalm-alononitrile or oleoresin capsicum.”

    Myself, I carry a pistol. Everyone else seems to, why shouldn’t I? Even if I get caught with it (laughably low chance of that) its a misdemeanor for my first 3 offenses.

    • It’s pretty ridiculous, but either you or the seller (not sure which) have to register any of the above stated self-defense sprays with the MPD.

      • Under DC law pepper spray only has to be registered if purchased in DC. It’s legal to purchase out-of-state and bring it into DC without any kind of registration. Most hardware stores, surplus stores & gun shops in the ‘burbs sell it, or you could just buy it online.

      • Genius…because that is the FIRST THING that a criminal does when they buy a can of mace. These laws need to change. People need to learn how to defend themselves, and we need to make it harder for criminals to get what they want.

        • It just occurred to me that the point might be to simply make these thing harder to obtain.

          • You should see the process for registering a handgun in DC. Not only does it takes several weeks [if not months], but also costs about $350-$450 in addition to the price of the firearm. The entire process is designed as a deterrent to purchasing a firearm.

          • ontarioroader-

            Citation needed…Sykes charges $125.

            He will even pick it up for you at several of the local MD gun stores.

          • thanks photodork

            I have been trying to (legally) get my handgun from VA to DC for the past 6 weeks, I’ll give Sykes a call.

          • What’s Sykes’ number?

        • Sykes is at 301-577-1427. The fees/costs in addition to his $125 transfer fee are the mandates firearms safety class [$125-$250], shipping fees, application fees, fingerprint fees, etc. Article from the Post accounting a reporter’s attempt to go through the process is here

 also breaks down the fees here along with a basic how-to guide for the process.

          • @ontarioroader:

            I have registered 3 firearms in the district and I think you are drastically exaggerating the hassle and expense involved.

            You need some passport photos, you need to take a class (one time only, and really, you should take one anyway), and you need to take a test.

            There isn’t much to it and it doesn’t take months. I probably spent $100 on the actual registration of 3 guns.

            Once you have submitted the application, you can keep your firearms in your home as long as you don’t keep ammo with them. So that’s a 1-day process. After that, you can take the class and the test as quickly as you want – no reason it should take more than a week. At that point, you should have your registration in a week. I’d say it’s a 2-week process.

            Besides that, everyone at MPD was very helpful and accommodating. Personally, I think they were thrilled that someone in this town actually bothered to register a gun.

  • Self defense is not allowed. It makes it harder for the hunters to reach their bag limits.

  • you can be arrested and charged with anything quite easily. But getting convicted is a hugely difficult thing unless you admit something.

    No matter what the police say never admit anything, that should take care of your disguised brass knuckles and wasp spray issues.

  • Possession of a prohibited weapon is a real charge.

    Whether you would be locked up under it if you used a prohibited weapon to defend yourself is another question.

    Just be educated on the potential consequences of your choices.

  • Hell with all that. Self defense is a sacred duty and EVERYTHING is permitted. Anyone should be permitted to beat a sumbitch’s head into a puddle of oatmeal with a can of spam if that’s what it takes to get home safely.

  • We need more vigilantes in this city.
    People need to grow a pair and start fighting for their neighborhoods and finding ways to screw over the trouble-makers.

  • .38, snub nose, hammerless revolver… Cheap, available, accurate, loud, and not a joke.

  • I carry a gas powered bb gun with metal pellets. Trust me if they can go through my wall then it’ll damage a persons face.

    Can’t really fade carrying a real gun since A. I’m a young black male (21)and police profile us the most and B. I don’t have the best temper, especially with people who rob and jump people for no reason.

  • I believe that that Supreme Court rule that DC residents have the right to gun ownership, as those in all U.S. states do. I assume that carrying a concealed weapon is illegal so I’m curious how they restrict carrying a gun, say in a holster, openly.

  • Shut up MPD, so I can posses a frying pan but not hit someone with it when they enter my hose illegally? What a foolish dept. we have do deal with.

  • From a local mailing list several years ago:

    Regarding the ,b>expandable batons– the issue is intent of the use of the baton. DC Code 22-4514 enumerates certain weapons which mere possession are prohibited (metal knuckles, switchblades, blackjacks, etc) while others are prohibited if… “with the intent to use unlawfully against another..”

    The issue of aerosol spray is a little more complicated-

    Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 from the DC Council’s website- As you can see it is permissible to possess such devices if it satisfies the definition in § 7-2502.12 (i.e., is one of the chemicals listed) and is used in accordance with the provisions of §7-2512.13. The registration requirement applies only for purchases made in DC, since DC cannot impose this requirement on sales taking place outside DC.

    § 7-2502.12. Definition of self-defense spray.

    For the purposes of §§ 7-2502.12 through 7-2502.14, the term:
    “Self-defense spray” means a mixture of a lacrimator including chloroacetophenone, alphacloracetophenone, phenylchloromethylketone, orthochlorobenazalm-alononitrile or oleoresin capsicum.

    § 7-2502.13. Possession of self-defense sprays.

    (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 7-2501.01(7)(C), a person 18 years of age or older may possess and use a self-defense spray in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person’s property only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life.
    (b) No person shall possess a self-defense spray which is of a type other than that specified in §§ 7-2502.12 to 7-2502.14.

    § 7-2502.14. Registration of self-defense sprays.

    (a) A person 18 years of age or older must register the self-defense spray at the time of purchase by completing a standard registration form.
    (b) The vendor must forward the registration form to the Metropolitan Police Department.

    I would recommend if you’re in doubt about what you plan on purchasing to contact our Firearms Registration on 202-727-4275.

  • You probably don’t want to be caught carrying the 1 lb model shown here:

  • So, if someone tried to rape me at knife point (as happened earlier this year), it would be illegal to defend myself with wasp spray, if I happened to be carrying it?

    That’s the giantest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard. If you’re allowed to defend yourself against grievous bodily injury, what does it matter what kind of weapon you use to do the defending?

    • I don’t think you will have a problem with MPD if you defended yourself from a violent crime with wasp spray. You could very easily say you were on your way to kill a wasps nest.

      I think the point is that you might have a hard time explaining why you are carrying a large can of wasp killer in your purse at the Hawk ‘N Dove on a Friday night. Or trying to get into the 9:30 club with a can of wasp killer in your pocket.

      These products are usually packaged in the super sized sprayjet cans anyway.

    • I don’t think any jury would convict you. Not even here.

  • Would WASP spray work on an attacker who is not pretestant? 🙂

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