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
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 into wind.
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
Advantages: Non-Lethal. Effective anywhere on body.
Disadvantages: Range - must make physical contact with assailant.
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 you.
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 chemical.
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 surprise.
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.
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.