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Packaged in new gun-control legislation is a measure that, if approved, would make it easier for people to buy and carry pepper spray or Mace.

People looking to buy the self-defense spray in the Bay State must first pay a fee and undergo a background check to get a permit. Area police chiefs and gun dealers are split on whether those extra steps are too restricting.

“Absolutely,” said Mark Heavner, owner of Holliston Firearms, when asked if the state should repeal the permit. “It is too hard for young, college-aged girls to get it. They can’t buy something they need for their own protection.”

Heavner, whose business is on Washington Street, said there have been many instances where people will ask him if he sells pepper spray.

“It is not a question of do we sell it,” said Heavner. “We do. But we sell very little of it because the people who need it can’t have it.”

Currently in Massachusetts, a person must fill out an application, undergo a background check and pay $25 before they can get a restricted firearms identification card, which allows them to buy pepper spray or Mace, but not a gun. Applicants must be 18 years old and have no prior felonies.

Source: Joe O’Connell for MetroWest Daily News.

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