Pepper spray, also known as oleoresin capsicum spray or O.C. spray or capsaicin spray or capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a compound that irritates the eyes to cause a burning sensation, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, temporarily taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people in danger to use pepper spray in self-defense for an opportunity to escape. It also causes temporary discomfort and burning of the lungs which causes shortness of breath.
Pepper spray was engineered into a spray originally for defense against bears and other dangerous predators. Many claim the use of OC is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) but it is not a chemical weapon and is listed as a "Riot Control Agent" according to the CWC's definitions. It is also listed as "Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention" under 9(d) of the CWC agreement (emphasis added).
Kamran Loghman, the person who developed it for use in riot control, wrote the guide for police departments on how it should be used. It was successfully adapted, except for improper usages such as when police sprayed peaceful protestors at University of California in 2011, Loghman commented, "I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents," prompting court rulings completely barring its use on docile persons.
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