A Comparative Look
By Meghan Gardner
Let's discuss weapons.
We all know the basic three: Pepper/Mace Spray, Stun
Gun (Electric Shock) and Hand Gun.
Each of these is either banned, heavily restricted,
or requires Firearm ID to legally carry in many states.
Be sure that if you carry or own any weapon that it
is legal in your state!
There are also "nuisance products" which
either emit high, piercing sounds or, upon activation,
dowse the potential victim with a foul smelling ointment
(in an effort to make the victim less "appealing").
First I will reiterate that which cannot be overstated:
Any Weapon You Wield, Carry, or Own Can Be Used Against
You! Now an analysis of each weapon type.
Pepper Spray (Oleoresin of Capsicum) usually comes
in strengths of 5-10%. May cause eye closure, skin
irritation and shortness of breath for several minutes.
Mace contains CN Tear Gas which may cause tearing
and eye closure for several minutes. Either can contain
such additives as dyes (visible or ultraviolet) for
identification of attacker, and/or a foaming agent
which causes the spray to expand rapidly upon impact
into a sticky foam which may further inhibit the attacker's
sight and/or breathing.
Advantages: Non-Lethal. Easily Concealed. Disabling
attacker's eyes may prohibit pursuit. Dye may aid
in attacker apprehension.
Disadvantages: Limited Range (generally 10-15 ft.,
depending on model). Limited Target (must hit attacker
in face). Small percentage of population not affected
by spray. Adrenaline or even sheer determination may
postpone or inhibit affects of spray. DO NOT discharge
Device delivers electric shock upon contact with
skin. May cause confusion, weakness, disorientation,
loss of balance and muscle control for several minutes.
Some have a wrist strap that disarms unit if separated
from strap. Requires batteries. Available in various
voltage levels (normally 65,000 - 125,000).
Advantages: Non-Lethal. Effective anywhere on body.
Disadvantages: Range - must make physical contact
Various sizes/models (9mm, .38, .44, etc.). Each
caliber differs in "stopping power", recoil,
conceal ability (size/weight), number of rounds contained
in single load/magazine. Requires permit in every
state. Concealment or carrying while loaded illegal
in some states.
Advantages: Intimidation Factor - sometimes just
the sight of a gun is enough to halt an attack. Range
(depending upon shooter's ability). May be more effective
against multiple attackers.
Disadvantages: Constitutes Lethal Force. Requires
regular training to become proficient in accuracy
beyond 15 ft. Risk of accidental firing and/or innocent
bystander getting shot. Takes time to draw, aim and
fire. Requires regular maintenance. Expense. They
may also be lethal if taken away and turned against
Personal Alarms activate by switch or separation
of strap and emit loud, high decibel (100 dB) sound.
Stench Ointments are contained in a small breakable
vial that when broken, dowse the wearer with powerful
smelling chemical. Usually comes with neutralizing
Advantages: Non-Lethal. Purchase and use are not
restricted in any states.
Disadvantages: Not physically damaging. Willful intentions
on part of attacker can easily nullify effect.
There are also various forms of kubotons/keychains
(small bars made of metal or plastic that are held
in the fist). Be careful - any extruding parts could
be classified as "Brass Knuckles" which
are illegal in many states. As well, many airports
will not allow you to carry these on the plane.
Makeshift weapons include: Hair Picks; Pencil/Pen;
Keys; Hot Coffee/Tea; Hair spray; Steering Wheel Locks;
Dirt; Rocks; Sticks; Loose Change; Pots & Pans;
Bottles; Chair/Stool; Golf Club; Shovel; Hair Pin;
Roll of Quarters; Hand Weights; Pool Cue; Camera;
Rolled-Up Magazine; Eyeliner; Umbrella; Briefcase;
Purse; Toothbrush...and I could go on ad nauseam....
If it is has a point - thrust it at them. If it is
long - swing it at them. If it is flat - use it as
a shield. For everything else - throw it at them.
Even a teddy bear in the face gives you a moment of
But always remember - the most effective weapon of
all is Your Brain! Utilize your environment.
And do not hesitate - take your advantage and either
Run or Fight! With every ounce of strength you have.
Use your fear and anger. We have all heard about the
90 lb. mom who lifted the overturned automobile to
allow her child to crawl out to safety. It isn't a
miracle - it's called adrenaline. It's the beast that
resides within us all. But you first must unleash
Copyright 1999-2000 by Guard Up, Inc.
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About The Author
Meghan Gardner is the CEO and Instructor Director
for Guard Up, Inc., a company that offers programs
to companies and organizations in martial arts, Japanese
fencing and swordsmanship (Kendo and Iaido), European
fencing, boxing and Street Defense. ASAP Seminars,
a subsidiary of Guard Up, provides assault prevention
training to clients across the country.
Mrs. Gardner is also the founder of the American
Martial Way Association, a martial arts system based
out of eastern Massachusetts. She has been actively
training and teaching in the arts and assault prevention
(with a specialty in Knife/Counter-Knife Techniques)
for 18 years. More information can be found at: www.Guardup.com.
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