Cayman Islands residents should be allowed to carry pepper spray or similar weapons for self-defence, according to North Side legislator Ezzard Miller.
The move appears to have bipartisan support with Premier Alden McLaughlin also in favour.
Miller wants to revive a private member’s motion, brought by McLaughlin when he was part of the official opposition in 2011, which called for the legalisation of such sprays for personal protection.
The motion passed unanimously at the time, but was never brought into effect.
Miller said police reports of an indecent assault on a woman in North Side this month had again highlighted the need for people to be able to protect themselves.
McLaughlin told the Compass he was “entirely in support” of people having access to such defensive means.
He said there were still concerns, however, about such weapons being used by the “wrong persons for the wrong reasons” and acknowledged the issue was not currently top of the government’s legislative agenda.
Miller accepted there were pros and cons to the debate, but said the advantages outweighed the potential downsides, and the current situation put law abiding citizens, particularly women, at risk.
He said people could be required to get police clearance or a letter of good character before being licensed to carry such sprays.
“It is impossible for police to be everywhere at all times and people need to be able to protect themselves,” he said.
He added that he was not an advocate of legalising firearms in Cayman, but insisted people should have the right to defend themselves in their own homes.
“At the moment people can break into your house and they know you can’t protect yourself. If a robber knows you have a Taser, he might think twice.
“I prefer this alternative to opening up gun licensing. We don’t want to get the point where everyone has a gun, like the US.”
He said many private members’ motions did not progress to become law – even when they attracted unanimous support. He said he understood that the day-to-day business of government often got in the way of pushing measures that were priorities in opposition, but he urged the Premier to pick up his previous motion and run with it.
“I want to encourage the Premier to put in place this means for people to protect themselves.”
During the initial debate in 2011, McLaughlin said he was aware of women who were already carrying pepper spray to protect themselves, and suggested it should be legalised.
“You have ladies now carrying around little canisters of pepper spray … if they are found to be doing so by the authorities, [they] could be subject to a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for up to four years. So, we would clearly need to amend the legislation to remove as a prohibited weapon, things like pepper spray, mace and tear gas, if we are to give to ordinary persons these particular means of protecting themselves in these times in which we are now living,” he said at the time.