The event outside the Parliament building in Vienna descended into confusion, however, after Team Stronach politician Robert Lugar quickly ran out of pepper sprays and had to tell women who had travelled there in the rain to get one that there were none left.
A crowd of angry women who had seen the social media posts inviting them to come pick up a free pepper spray were forced to leave empty-handed and angry, with Lugar promising to send them in the post instead.
One woman told Der Standard newspaper that she felt used by the party for their political campaigning. Another described it as “a right mess”.
While distributing the 200 sprays, the politician for the right-wing party was quick to use the opportunity to reiterate his calls for gun law deregulation in Austria.
Citing the attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, Lugar said these events confirmed that “women should and must have the right to self-defence.”
The politician also referred to a feeling of insecurity in recent months, which he believes can be understood in the context of the refugee movement. “Who doesn’t see that, is blind,” he said.
Statistics soon to be released for 2015, however, do not show an increase in violent crime, a spokesperson from the Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed to the Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Nonetheless, Lugar’s party are calling for every respectable citizen to have the right to own a weapon in Austria, despite the fact that gun laws in Austria are already fairly relaxed compared to the rest of Europe .
Some guns in Austria – such as shotguns – do not require a permit, whereas others – such as rifles or semi-automatic weapons – do require a permit and for the owner to pass a psychological exam.
In total, there are thought to be around 900,000 guns in homes throughout Austria, mostly used for hunting purposes but also for self-protection.