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Legal Oddities: Criminal Hairspray

Under section 46.05(a)(3) of the Texas Penal Code, it is a felony to possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell a "prohibited weapon," including a chemical dispensing device.

Chemical dispensing device means

a device, other than a small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of dispensing a substance capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being.

It's hard to think of any substance that is not "capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being." Even water or air, in sufficient quantities or administered the right way, may cause adverse effects on a human.

What the Texas Legislature has done here is to make the possession of countless ordinary household items.

Can of wasp spray? Chemical dispensing device.

Can of brake cleaner? Surely.

Can of dustoff? Yep.

Can full of gasoline? Yep.

Empty gasoline can? Indeed—it's designed for dispensing gasoline, which is capable of causing an adverse physiological effect on a human being.

Teakettle? Water bottle? Same.

Take a look around you and think about how many things you possess that are chemical dispensing devices, and are felonies to possess.

Then consider: The people who write these laws were democratically elected.


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