THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF PERSONAL-DEFENSE WEAPONS
Packin’ some extra help? Remember: A weapon is only good if you know how to use it successfully when you are confronted by aggressive individuals. Frequently, people who don’t want to be victims will carry all types of self-defense aids without first knowing how to properly use them— and, more importantly, how to keep them away from their intended recipient. Below are the pros and cons of several commonly carried self-defense weapons. Check applicable laws and regulations before deciding to carry a weapon of any sort.
Pepper Spray/mace. This self-defense item, usually found on a key ring, is effective when sprayed at an attacker’s face—specifically, their eyes and nose. It needs to be ready to shoot, with its safety switch off, prior to a possible confrontation. The downside of this weapon is that it can be used against the victim if taken away by the attacker. In addition, during a windy day outdoors, the spray can either miss its target or affect its user instead.
Extendable Baton. This is a great offensive and defensive weapon. It is perfect to gain distance from a knife-wielding attacker. The baton can be hidden in your back pocket or purse until it’s needed, and it works great in close quarters. However, without the proper training, it will most likely only be used as a heavy “stick” that is swung carelessly at the foe.
Firearm. A firearm can be deadly for both the attacker and the user. Without proper training in concealment, drawing, aiming and keeping the weapon in your possession during a confrontation, it might cause more harm than help. Plus, the finality of the results of firing a weapon at an attacker could have longlasting mental and legal implications.
Stun Gun. A stun gun can be highly effective to stop an attacker immediately by shocking their body with an electrical charge, thereby giving you the time needed to escape. The success of this device depends on having the unit in your hand and ready to use, as well as getting the stun gun’s contact points in contact with your attacker’s exposed skin (thick jackets or coats will hamper its effectiveness).
High-powered Tactical Flashlight. An amazing nonlethal and non-harming defense tool, the tactical flashlight can temporarily “blind” an attacker, allowing a person to escape from the situation. Some flashlights are built tough so they can also be used as a striking device once the attacker is momentarily distracted. Unfortunately, the flashlight, when pitted against nearly any other weapon during a conflict, will come up short.
Knife. Another easily concealable weapon, a knife can be used to keep attackers from advancing. Even so, as with a firearm, the results of using a knife against an attacker can have mixed results. The intended victim can have it taken away and used against them or on nearby family members or friends, who can be accidently cut or stabbed during the scuffle.