DC Clarifies Online Pepper Spray Sales Are Legal As Crime Continues To Spike


John Oyewale Contributor
Font Size:

Pepper spray sold online could now be legally delivered to any address in Washington, D.C., following emergency legislation that passed Tuesday, a councilwoman said.

“I drafted emergency legislation to clarify that pepper spray can be sold & delivered. It passed today 12-1,” Christina Henderson, an At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia, tweeted in part.

Henderson cited a Washington Examiner op-ed by Sofia Hamilton, a Cato Institute research associate, as the spur for the legislation.

Hamilton, who had moved to Washington, D.C., gave up her pepper spray during a security search at a concert, she wrote in the July 26 op-ed.

“I hopped on Amazon to order myself a new pepper spray. But when I tried to submit my order, I received an error message saying: ‘There was a problem with some of the items in your order. … Sorry this item can’t be shipped to your selected address,'” Hamilton wrote. Friends outside the nation’s capital had to receive her order on her behalf, but “not all Washingtonians have that same convenience.”

For a city that had seen a considerable rise in crime, self-defense was necessary, she further wrote. (RELATED: Washington Residents Beg For Stronger Police Presence As Crime Explodes)

Henderson, an Independent serving as the chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, followed up with Amazon, noting it was legal for Washingtonians to possess pepper spray, her tweet noted. “[Amazon] interpreted the DC Code to suggest that pepper spray could only be sold by a licensed dealer. And could not confirm that their many independent sellers were licensed,” Henderson tweeted.

Henderson then drafted the legislation, which received overwhelming support from the council.

“Thank you Council Member @chenderson for listening to my concerns and for recognizing my efforts,” Hamilton tweeted in response to the news about the legislation.

Violent crime in Washington, D.C., increased by 39% from 2022 till date, and robberies in particular had the sharpest spike, according to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) statistics. Property crime increased by 25% over the same period, and arson and motor vehicle thefts soared the highest.

All crime increased by 27%, per MPD statistics.