I am often asked what people should carry to defend themselves. The options run the gambit from pepper spray to firearms, so here is how I break it down.
1. Firearms: Unless you have extensive weapons training, I never advise carrying a gun. Let me be clear: I am not anti-gun, I just think they do not belong in the hands of those who don’t understand the responsibility that comes with them. If you carry a gun, be prepared to use it. Any hesitation due to a second thought, lack of proper training, etc. can and usually will result in an unintended victim getting hurt. Not to mention the liability that the firearm itself brings to an environment where there are children.
2. Stun Guns: Stun guns are fairly small, hand held devices that produce a current of electricity in the range of 20,000 to 150,000 volts. Considering that the normal household appliance voltage is about 120, these can be a powerful and dangerous thing to carry with you. These units will, for the most part, knock down most approaching attackers if all conditions are right. For example: If the assailant is wearing heavy clothing, the affect may be greatly diminished. Another thing to consider is the fact that these units are “contact” weapons. You must be close enough to physically touch the intended target. Consider someone coming at you with intent to do you harm, how close do you want to get?
3. Sprays: There are three basic types of chemical self-defense sprays:
CN – Now somewhat outdated, it was used by the military and police departments in the 1960’s and 1970’s. More a vapor than a gas, these “tear gasses” or MACE have proven to be ineffective at times especially on those under the influence of narcotics and alcohol. Mainly because of their broad availability at one time, these products are on the market.
CS – An irritant that affects the mucus membranes in the nose and throat, it is slightly more effective that CN gas, but like CN, can cause severe problems to anyone in the area due to its toxicity. Both are also ineffective against dogs and many wild animals due to their lack of lacrimal or tear producing glands.
OC – Commonly known as pepper spray, OC, or oleoresin capsicum, is the choice chemical agent of law enforcement and defense experts alike. A strong irritant, OC is effective against both humans and animals because it affects the skin, eyes and breathing passages. It is fast acting and doesn’t require a “direct hit” on its target for a result. The cost is fairly low compared to many other gasses, about $10 for a small keychain sized unit and has virtually no lasting consequences.
As for my recommendation, I suggest the OC or pepper spray. It is easy to use, cost effective and a great deterrent to both human as well as dog attackers. It fits easily in a purse, briefcase or glove compartment and it requires no permit. Perhaps the best sell of all is the fact that if a child gets a hold of it, it will produce no more than an irritating burn. Not a chemical or electric burn as CN gas or a stun gun, but one that’s been compared to rubbing your eyes after cutting a hot pepper or tamale.
No matter what you choose for self defense, remember its purpose: SELF PROTECTION. A citizen has the right to use any force necessary to protect or defend themselves BUT they also have an obligation to flee to safety if possible and not confront danger. That is a job for the police.