It sounds like a story from The Onion or the Babylon Bee, but truth is officially stranger than fiction in New York State. Unless a federal judge intervenes, the state’s latest round of infringements on the right to keep and bear arms will take effect this Thursday, but the sweeping new “gun-free zones” and licensing requirements for concealed carry holders aren’t the only public safety misstep that lawmakers have adopted in recent months. Last year the state legislator imposed a ban on the sale of whipped cream chargers to anyone under the age of 21; a little-noticed restriction at the time but one that’s now starting to be enforced more frequently around the state.
The chargers that propel whipped cream through a canister nozzle are filled with nitrous oxide gas, which can be inhaled to produce a high. The inhalant has long been a popular recreational drug – called “whippets” – among teenagers due to the availability of whipped cream canisters at grocery and convenience stores.
Because of this, the state prohibited the sale of whipped cream chargers to those under the age of 21 last November. The chargers themselves can be purchased for use in refillable whipped cream dispensers, but most people likely will notice enforcement of the law when they buy whipped cream packaged in a canister.
The legislation was passed after being sponsored by Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) who emphasized the dangers of recreational use of nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” after seeing the effect of the inhalant in neighborhoods throughout his district.
“Sadly, young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance. This law will eliminate easy access to this dangerous substance for our youth,” Addabbo said in a provided statement.
Oh sure it will; as long as you can prevent shoplifting or stop users from simply popping off the top of the cans and inhaling right there in the store. Then there’s the fact that these chargers are widely available online. But I’m sure that making it illegal for a 20-year old to purchase a can of Reddi-Wip will “eliminate easy access” to nitrous oxide. After all, it’s illegal for under-21s to purchase alcohol in New York State, and that’s worked so well that “only” 14.2% of New Yorkers between the ages of 12 and 20 reported binge drinking last year.
New York’s ban-happy state legislature followed last year’s crackdown on young adults purchasing whipped cream by imposing a ban on under-21s purchasing modern sporting rifles back in June. Just like the state’s prohibition on whipped cream chargers, the legislation is unlikely to actually prevent any unlawful behavior on the part of young adults, but there’s one very important distinction: the Constitution is silent when it comes to our right to purchase a product that contains nitrous oxide, but not our right to keep and bear arms. New York’s age-based restrictions on whipped cream might end up being upheld in court, but I highly doubt the same is true when it comes to blocking young adults from purchasing or possessing some of the most commonly-sold firearms in the country.