AOC: 'We Need to Ban Tear Gas'; Cori Bush: 'It Is a Weapon of War'

By Susan Jones | October 15, 2021 | 9:45am EDT
A cloud of tear gas floats outside the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police station during a protest over the police-involved shooting of a black man in April 2021. (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
A cloud of tear gas floats outside the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police station during a protest over the police-involved shooting of a black man in April 2021. (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is calling attention to a push by her fellow leftists to ban the use of tear gas by law enforcement.

She tweeted on Thursday: "A staff memo released today from two @OversightDems subcommittees found that tear gas is unregulated, harmful to humans, and lines the pockets of tear gas manufacturers. The current design of our law enforcement is militarized. We need to ban tear gas."

The chairmen of the two House Oversight subcommittees, Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Jamie Raskin, released the staff memo, which says the federal government does not regulate tear gas and has never determined its health effects.

“In the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice in 2020, federal law enforcement agents deployed by the Trump Administration used tear gas on peaceful protesters, as did law enforcement agencies in 100 cities across the United States, they said in a news release.

"Despite the frequent weaponization of tear gas against protestors, there are still insufficient studies on its long-term health effects.  This investigation has revealed a complete void in the regulation of tear gas, a weapon that is banned in war yet commonly used against U.S. citizens."

According to the staff memo, "U.S. tear gas manufacturers acknowledge that tear gas is dangerous and that 'injury and/or damage can be expected,' whenever it is used."

The subcommittees are requesting documents from three companies that manufacture tear gas in the United States.

The news release includes a statement from far-left Democrat Cori Bush of Missouri, a member of the two subcommittees.

"Tear gas is not an inconvenience, it is a weapon of war," she is quoted as saying:

I know what it’s like to have tear gas fired at me — my eyes, skin, and lungs burning in the fog of that horrific weapon — and to desperately search for something to relieve the terrible pain.

For too long, tear gas has been abused by law enforcement. I thank Oversight Subcommittee Chairs Krishnamoorthi and Raskin and my colleague Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for their partnership in prioritizing my request to investigate tear gas and its use on protesters.

This memorandum makes clear what so many of us already know: that tear gas is dangerous, and despite this, manufacturers have continued to profit off its sale, and law enforcement agencies have had free rein to use it against protesters across the country.  This unregulated, violent, and deadly chemical weapon can cause long-lasting health damage to activists, including asthma, respiratory failure, and even death.

It is past time our nation reckoned with its ongoing history of racial, social, economic, and environmental violence.  America must correct its failures. Until then, activists like me will continue to show up in the streets — not because we want to, but because it is what is necessary to build the just, safe, and equitable country we all deserve. 

For protest to truly be a right, we must ensure that we are never again met with weapons of war on our streets.

Tear gas is sometimes used as a catchall term for both CS and CN gas (synthetic compounds) as well as OC gas, or pepper spray, which is derived from the natural compound in hot peppers.

The subcommittees' staff report mentions only CS and CN.

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