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WARNING: Make Sure You Do Your Research Before You Buy a Potential Weapon

Personal safety and protection is a concern on the minds of many, especially female students on a college campus. However, some seemingly legal sources of protection may be banned on campus, or prohibited entirely under state criminal laws.

            For instance, pepper spray is a commonly carried device for personal protection. In the State of Michigan, an individual is permitted to carry pepper spray if it contains less than 10% oleoresin capsicum (OC). Additionally, that pepper spray or foam may be used "in the protection of a person or property under circumstances that would justify the person's use of physical force."[1] As long as the pepper spray you are carrying is under 10 OC and is only used in an instance where physical force is justified, you should not have to worry about breaking any criminal laws in the state of Michigan. Michigan State University prohibits the possession or use of any firearm or weapon, but does not list any prohibitions on pepper spray, nor does it define weapons to include pepper spray.[2]

            Tasers or stun-guns are another common weapon carried for self-defense. Unlike pepper spray, these items are considered weapons and are only permitted if a person has a valid concealed pistol license. Michigan law prohibits the possession of "a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave, or beam may be directed, which current, impulse, wave, or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure, or kill."[3] Even if an individual has a license to carry a concealed pistol, they may only have specific type of Taser or stun gun that uses "electro-muscular disruption technology." Due to the limited nature of permissible possession of this type of item, Michigan State University does not permit the possession of a Taser or stun gun on campus. Like a pistol, if you have a valid license to carry a concealed weapon, you may leave the Taser or stun gun with the campus police while you are on campus, but you may not carry it on your or leave it in your vehicle or dorm room.

            It is important you research the items you are purchasing for self-defense or personal protection. Every campus and state has its own laws permitting the use of pepper sprays, mace, stun guns, and Tasers. To avoid any potential reprimanding from University administrators and officers, or state police officials, double check that your purchase is legal and permitted. These items should have disclaimers, but may not. Just because you can purchase an item on the internet, does not mean that you are legally permitted to possess or utilize that item. If you have any questions feel free to contact Baird & Zulakis, P.C. for assistance.




[1] MCL 750.224d.

[2] Michigan State University Ordinance 18.01.

[3] MCL 750.224a.

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