Pepper spray is not so easy for men to buy
Basel hooligans kept the police in Thun busy following a football match between the local team and FC Basel in the town last Saturday. However, they did not just use flagpoles and their fists during an outbreak of violence against the police at the Thun train station, but also pepper spray. Yet it seems it is not so easy to get hold of the irritant. One local man, Martin M* describes his experience of trying to buy pepper spray after he became worried about his girlfriend’s safety.
Martin M. said he went to the train station pharmacy to buy the substance for his girlfriend, who is a nurse and often works late at night. “You hear all kinds of things, so that’s why I wanted to play it safe,” he said. Yet after he visited the pharmacy, Martin M. was the one who was concerned, after his request was turned down. On request, pharmacist Fabienne Schmitter told barfi.ch: “We do have pepper spray available, but we only sell it to women.” According to weapons legislation, pharmacies can sell pepper spray to anyone over the age of 18.
The only prerequisite for acquiring pepper spray is that the customer must provide valid identification and fill in a form. But the owners of the train station pharmacy want to treat the subject with caution. “We discussed this matter within the team and came to the conclusion that we should sell pepper spray to women only.“ And this Saturday, Basel’s hooligans provided proof for the pharmacies’ reluctance when masked men attacked Thun’s police officers with pepper spray.
“Rarely asked for”
In the pharmacies near Barfüsserplatz, the question of defense sprays is not a taboo subject. For example, the young woman working at the Benu-Apotheke said that they “of course” sell pepper spray – as long as the person requesting it is 18 or over. She only needs to find the form first. When asked further, she said it was rare for customers to ask for pepper spray. In the pharmacy at Steinenberg, questions about pepper spray are more complicated. It could be that pepper spray is among their product range, but the employees say that they do not have it in stock. However, as with other pharmacies elsewhere, the staff say hardly anyone asks for pepper spray.
But the case is clear for Fabienne Schmitter and her pharmacy team at the SBB train station. “Even though selling it in general is legal, pepper spray is mostly available to protect women, because it is not the men who are threatened with attacks and therefore need the spray,” she said. At the pharmacy however the spray is also not in stock. Even though there are a lot of customers passing through here, the pharmacist said: “I can honestly not remember the last time anyone asked for pepper spray.” Her co-workers nodded and seemed to be glad that the problem had been dealt with.
After the attacks against women in Cologne during 2016’s New Year festivities, a pepper spray sales boom was expected, as many young women felt insecure about their safety (barfi.ch reported). Yet it seems as if these insecurities were solved in different ways other than with pepper spray. And the problem experienced by Martin M, could also be easily solved. Pepper spray is available in various chemists, pharmacies, and weapon shops if the customer can present a valid passport and fill in a form. Still, it is a comfort that the pharmacy staff at the SBB are not handing out the defence weapon so easily.
Various cars on fire at Horburgpark
An investigation has been launched after a number of cars were ablaze in Müllheimerstrasse at Horburgpark in the early hours of Sunday morning. Nobody was injured.
Current investigations by the criminal police of the public prosecution reveal that local residents at Müllheimerstrasse had noticed several parked vehicles on fire at around 1.30am and called the emergency services. The professional fire fighters of the rescue services of Basel-Stadt arrived quickly and were able to extinguish the fires.
The cause of the fires is still unclear and under investigation by the criminal police. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police of the public prosecution via the telephone number 061 267 71 11 or to go to the nearest police station.