RICHMOND, Va. — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced Wednesday that he has introduced the Preventing the Misuse of Tear Gas Act to address state and federal law enforcement’s use of tear gas.
Kaine says the bill would require federal law enforcement agencies to set policies stating that the use of riot control agents like tear gas should be avoided wherever possible against peaceful protesters and that their use to quell violent activity should minimize any impact on those not participating in the violence.
The legislation would also require state and local law enforcement agencies to implement such policies and comply with them in order to receive funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program and other Department of Justice programs.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am struck by how we strictly regulate the use of chemical weapons in battle but don’t similarly oversee the use of tear gas and other chemical irritants in domestic law enforcement,” said Kaine. “While such irritants can help de-escalate violence, their growing use in non-violent situations for crowd control or curfew enforcement should cause significant concern. It is time to limit the use of tear gas, particularly in communities already suffering from elevated levels of asthma and other respiratory ailments, and particularly in a moment where millions have suffered respiratory damage due to the coronavirus.”