The Danish government has drafted a bill that would legalise the use possession of pepper spray in the home.
The proposal comes despite resistance from both the Danish Police Union (Politiforbundet) and the Danish Crime Prevention Council (Det Kriminalpræventive Råd).
The proposal would allow residents to use pepper spray to protect themselves in the home, for example to ward off intruders. Pepper spray would also be allowed outside the home in some situations, such as when someone has been a victim of stalking or is deemed to face a concrete threat of attack from an ex-partner or family member.
The use of pepper spray would only be allowed in emergency situations, according to the Justice Ministry. The ministry said that the intention of the bill is to make people feel safer in their homes. In many cases, “the mere awareness of being able to defend oneself will increase the sense of safety and security” according to the text of the proposal.
Early this year, the Danish Police Union and the Crime Prevention Council both spoke out against legalising pepper spray, arguing that legalisation would make it more likely that the spray ends up in the wrong hands.
“In general, I am concerned when you begin to arm our population,” Henrik Dam of the Crime Prevention Council said earlier this year.
He also expressed concern that during a home invasion, criminals would be able to take the pepper spray from homeowners and use it against them.
The use of pepper spray in Denmark has caused a number of headline-generating incidents in recent years. In early 2016, media reported about a 17-year-old girl who faced police charges for using pepper spray to fend off a sexual assailant went viral. Later that year, the nationalist Danes’ Party elicited strong reactions went it took to the streets of Haderslev to hand out cans of what it called ‘refugee spray’. In 2003, current speaker of parliament Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People’s Party was fined 3,000 kroner for pulling a can of pepper spray out of her purse and threatening to spray a woman who Kjærsgaard said was harassing her.