Premier breaks ranks, votes no to pepper spray

| 25/09/2023 | 51 Comments

(CNS): In yet another demonstration of the political differences on the government benches, Premier Wayne Panton was the only MP in parliament Thursday night who voted against a private member’s motion to legalise pepper spray. Hours before one of his frontbench members resigned, Panton voted no to the proposal, which was supported by all other PACT MPs as well as the opposition.

The motion was brought by David Wight (GTW), who argued that people need some form of protection from rising crime. “Sadly, such measures are increasingly necessary, and we also need now to think about how we make individuals feel safer as they move about our islands,” he said.

Wight said the advice given by the police to people out exercising or socialising was insufficient, describing it later as “a shout and hope approach”. Referring to a recent robbery at his gas station on Walkers Road, he said that the member of staff who was robbed could have protected himself, stopped the crime and even caught the robber if he had been able to use pepper spray.

This was not the only reason he had brought the motion, he said, as many people were asking for access to pepper spray. He noted that it was legal in the US and called for a licensed regime here.

It is illegal for private citizens to own pepper spray or mace in the UK, which has similar laws to the Cayman Islands regarding the ownership of weaponry. In the US such non-lethal weapons are legal and common, but ownership of lethal guns, including AK-47s, is also widespread and gun laws are extremely lax, with an estimated 120 guns for every 100 Americans.

Pepper sprays containing noxious substances are prohibited in Canada and in many countries in Europe, namely Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Turkey. However, possession is legal in Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Serbia and Russia. In Switzerland, Germany, Finland and Portugal, possession is legal but a licence must be obtained first.

Pepper spray is a quick-acting chemical irritant that commonly causes swelling in the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, difficulty breathing and a burning sensation in exposed skin. In certain situations, it can cause temporary blindness and physiological and psychological effects like hyperventilation and anxiety. Long-lasting effects are rare, but people with some pre-existing conditions may experience more severe symptoms and, in very rare cases, death.

Wight received support for his motion from both his colleagues and across the aisle. Barbara Conolly said she no longer exercised alone as she was afraid of being attacked. She suggested that her parliamentary colleagues all knew someone who carried pepper spray illegally because of their fear of crime.

The motion was seconded by Sir Alden McLaughlin, who said he had brought a similar motion more than a decade ago asking for the same thing, which had been supported by parliament (then known as the Legislative Assembly) but was never acted upon.

While all other MPs spoke in favour of allowing the non-lethal weapons to be available here with a licence and within a controlled regime, Panton, who had given Cabinet members permission to vote on this motion however they wanted, argued the case for caution. He said it was undeniable that women and girls had the right to feel safe, though he had not been made aware of an increase in crimes against women.

However, he pointed to some of the downsides of pepper spray and said it was not the solution. Noting that it is illegal in several countries, including the UK, “for many good reasons”, he warned about unintended consequences.

He spoke of the need for training, licensing and the protection of children. He also noted that spraying someone just because you are frightened could result in innocent people being hurt. “It’s appropriate to make sure we carefully consider this,” he said, adding that he did not believe it was the simple solution people might think it is.

“I don’t feel that I was elected to come down here just to represent a populist view; I feel my obligation is to give a considered view,” he said. Referring to the motion that McLaughlin had brought and passed in 2011, he said there were good reasons why it was not acted upon. Saying there were other options and pepper spray was not the solution, he noted that there were studies that called into question the use of this toxic gas and highlighted the unintended consequences.

McLaughlin accused Panton of speaking “unmitigated drivel”, as a row ensued between the former close friends and political allies.

See the debate on CIGTV below:


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Category: Policy, Politics

Comments (51)

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  1. Dlvis says:

    Lets fave it no one in any govt is capable of making a decision anyhow. Not even involving a spray. Beam me up scottie

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  2. Secure Resident says:

    We don’t need pepper spray we have Jamaica police to protect us ! I fdefinitely feel safe in my home burglar bars quadruple dead bolts 1 machete 2 base ball backs 1 axe 2 fire extinguisher 1 peacemaker fish muttle my bullet proof SUV key start 25 cameras system connected to my fully charged i phone which has every police station number and 911 on speed dial if all fails a fall back bunker underneath my house 2 years rations. And a year supply of Netflix We safe Cayman .NO Peeper spray all is well in Jamcay!

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  3. Armstrong and Miller RAF Pilots says:

    Oy. Young Bloodz. Do us a solid and remove your face covering and big shades so weez can squirts you in the eyes with our legal pepper spray. Yes we have a note allowing us to do that. It’s not harassment or discrimination. Innit. Innit.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    If we always compare ourselves to other countries on every issue Cayman islands would have tax…

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  5. _||) says:

    You’re likely here with a hot cup of coffee and wanting to hear Alden tell Wayne to go siddung, so here:

    https://youtu.be/Rn51ilETe_M?t=4531

    Or watch from 1h:15m:30s

    Enjoy the lulz

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    • Anonymous says:

      thank you for the link. madame speaker…perfect representation of caymanian workforce…disinterested and incapable….

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    • Anonymous says:

      scary stuff….cayman is a laughing stock…is this the best you got????

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      • Anonymous says:

        us women need the pepper to defend ourselves from been potentially rape are kidnap our harass by men

    • Anonymous says:

      This go sit down behavior is the textbook example of the Peter Principle that discourages persons from entering politics. Sir Aldon Bullie should be ashamed of himself, but that won’t happen.

  6. Caymanian donkey says:

    Is pepper spray the answer? I’m not sure I agree or disagree.
    The same question should we allow public citizens to have firearms? I have the same opinion.
    Cayman has changed and we need a plan for the for the safety and wellbeing for all our our citizens.
    Will we ever stop criminals, those that want to be will be.
    As an older caymanian now 50’s, i honestly don’t have an answer to what we have to do or could do to make our beloved island a safer place.
    Yes, I do have suggestions, but are they the right ones?
    What I can say is we need a plan, not a short term but a long term plan. Unfortunately we aren’t living in the 70’s 80’s anymore, the world has changed unfortunately for the worse as has Cayman.
    One thing I know is that I’d like to think I have educated my children to respect themselves and others, I hope I have taught them to abide by the laws of our island and honestly hope they abide by the morals my parents and mentors in my life have taught me. Maybe just maybe this is what we have to look at first.
    My belief is that we have to do a reset, the question is how? It appears our politicians don’t have this answer and or plan and none of us on this forum do either. So we are stuck as a nation!

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    • Concerned Citizen says:

      More police force, more frequent patrols, more bicycle police, more foot police – designated to specific communities and subdivisions, more lighting in the streets, more interactions and inspections of vagrants lurking late nights and early morning…more policing…more, more, more – it is only a case of not enough being done…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Notice the more highly evolved countries have banned it or at least required it to be licensed.
    Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Serbia and Russia- definitely not countries that I would want to emulate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hah, Hah, Hah….
      definitely not the country that I would want to emulate IS CAYMAN!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Austria and France are among the most affluent countries per capita.
      The European countries generally are “too soft on crime”

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  8. Anonymous says:

    forget the pepper spray. go get wasp spray. one shot of that in the eyes will send the little f#%$ running

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I thought Panton would do a better job, but he doesn’t bring anything forward. All he talks is pie in the sky. It seems like he just likes the title because he sure hadn’t done anything with it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but don’t worry. He’s gonna save the environment 😂😂

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agree with Premier on this. Cayman is not the US and needs to follow UK protocols.

      The real test is whether the Governor will actually sign this Act.

      All this is just political posturing by our MPs.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Great, now the rapists and attackers will have access to a legal weapon to subdue victims.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They already have access to weapons, its the victims we need to worry about, they are unarmed and helpless

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    • Patricia Bryan says:

      The Motion brought and passed was that the pepper spray would be brought in and sold in a manner to which it could legally be monitored the same as prescribes or over the counter drugs per se. The recommendation is for pharmacies to be authorized to sell the product. It wouldn’t be selling here there and everywhere (like beer and cigarettes).

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s legal in the US. Criminals prefer guns.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m now waiting for the article in Cayman News Service about a “young person” who felt threatened in the club and managed to clear the entire establishment within 5 minutes by pepper-spraying indoors.
    The canisters can be small, security will not be able to find all of them with pat-downs.

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    • STX says:

      What would security do if one had eaten too many boiled eggs and black beans before walking in?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I see your dumb argument and raise you fart spray, not to mention other commonly cited examples such as RAID.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    You can make your own pepper spray and given that the ingredients are all legal, it is not illegal to carry.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can make your own crystal meth, and given that the ingredients are all legal… oh wait…

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s the spraying in someone’s eyes part. Mr Wight’s gas station robbers could have pepper sprayed everyone in the store and parking lot. Rapists could spray their victims. I’d rather have police that can catch criminals, a DPP that can convict them with sound evidence, and an elections law that prohibits them from running for office, handling public funds and setting policy!

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      • brackattacka says:

        “Rapists could spray their victims.”

        Yet another dumb argument. Sigh. Devil’s advocate:

        1) that’s like 0.01% the preferred method, if at all. never heard of it.

        2) knives are legal, more deadly/convincing, and don’t run the risk of burning their peepee with the spray on their victim

        3) if they wanted to “spray everyone in the store” a bigger can of wasp spray has more range and ammo, and hello, is legal.

        Some unna just grew up teacher’s pet and never stopped loving being subjugated by a million rules.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    ‘one spray and you are south of the border…. mmmmm…incapacitating…..’

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Like Jon Jon said, its Waynes way or no way!! he will not support what the majority says. He will now run tot he Governor and scuttle this!!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    If I had a bodyguard and driver and made $10,000 per month, you can bet I wouldn’t need capsaicin/pepper spray either.

    If this passes — and it should — it’s a simple matter to register the cannister numbers with the licence number, such that the personal is liable and responsible for the safe use of the pepper spray.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, but a driver and a bodyguard c ok st more than 20k a month.

      And if you had them, you wouldn’t be wasting your time here.

      A driver cost about 7k a month and a bodyguard starts at 4k.

      My parent had both .

      nice try thiugh

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  16. James says:

    this just gets more embarrassing by the day. just call an election and get it done.

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    • Anonymous says:

      and elect who?
      every resident with a brain should be calling for direct rule for 2 years…

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      • Anonymous says:

        I would be okay with UK rule! Maybe in the best interest of our country.

        I bet if you called for a vote today and said UK rule and a “ban” on all construction – you would get an overwhelming YES. Traffic, 10 story hotels, crime, we do not want this??

        This “grow the population” goal is just a greedy scam by politicians. We are losing all our land and beaches just to build condos that no local can afford?

        WHY should construction be an arm of our economy? Finance and Tourism should be the only revenue we need.

        It worked fine in the 80’s and 90’s and with our small population, expats & locals mingled instead of dividing.

        Bring back the Holiday Inn vibe- I dare any politician to “stop the carnival” reduce the civil service, slow down construction, and look for a quieter Cayman?

        Do it on an Eco platform to save our environment.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How on earth have you connected that article to this one??

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      • Anonymous says:

        Quite easily really. If the young lady who was attacked had pepper spray, it’s highly unlikely there would ever have been a PACT government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The presenter of the motion and the motion itself are both moronic. The issue of crime in general cannot and will not be solved by putting the public at risk; vis, criminals intent on robbing or attacking will now take even greater pains to disarm by more forceful means and perhaps with higher level of weaponry.

      Recognizing that the mover of the motion obviously has been told of the many criticisms being voiced in the public arena of his uselessness as an MP had to say something. In doing so he has once again proven that his elevation to MP has nothing to do with his capabilities but rather the drag me with ya KT effect. Jeerzum pita and we in the 21st century.

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