It is very important as CCW permit holders that we act in a responsible manner. To be cliché "with great power comes great responsibility". As citizens of the United States our natural right to defend ourselves is codified in the Second Amendment and in many state constitutions. Americans are unlike many people in the world in that we have this ability to carry a firearm for self-defense. Not only is it important to be able to use the firearm proficiently to defend oneself or others, but being able to respond appropriately when deadly force may NOT be justified is equally important. In our classes, we go through a very detailed section on the use of deadly force and it's justification. In many scenarios, deadly force may not be appropriate. Having a non-lethal force option is necessary. To quote another old cliché, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".
Do you have a plan when deadly force is not appropriate?
So what are some non-lethal force options and the pros / cons of each? Common options that we will look at include pepper spray, taser / stun gun, and the expandable baton.
Pepper spray, or what is sometimes referred to as OC spray (Oleoresin Capsicum), utilizes the extracts derived from Cayenne pepper, in an aerosol deployment for self defense. The OC, when sprayed in a person's face will inflame the mucus membranes, and if inhaled cause coughing. Pepper spray can be purchased fairly for a reasonable price ($10-15), and is very effective against people and animals, like aggressive dogs. The effective range for most pepper spray options utilized by civilians is 10 - 15 feet, even though the package may say otherwise. Pepper Spray units have different options for how the spray is deployed to include a stream (gives you the most distance), cone (wider aerosol mist), and even foam (not recommended). More on OC / Pepper Spray will be addressed in a future post.
Tasers / Stun Guns
Tasers are very effective. However, the typical civilian taser costs between 300 and $500, not including the cartridge ($25-30). A taser functions by firing two small projectiles (probes) with tiny wires attached to the Taser. When both of the projectiles hit their target, they complete a circuit causing electro-muscular incapacitation of the person. The common physical response to a Taser used on a person can be viewed in multiple YouTube videos showing the person tensing up and falling over. This is different than a stun gun which only relies on pain compliance to the area where the stun gun is applied. Tasers cartridges have a range of 21 feet and 25 feet. However, that is the maximum range and not a realistic range to expect a successful deployment in my view. Because the probes spread out as they are fired, the greater the distance that the probes travel, the greater the spread of the probes. A more realistic range for Taser deployment is 10-15 feet. With a stun gun however, you have to be close enough to touch your attacker to see an effect. Taser cartridges are singe deployment, meaning once the cartridge is fired, it cannot be fired again at a later time.
An expandable baton is simply aim tubular steel metal stick that opens with a flick of the arm and wrist. Focused strikes with the baton to areas of the body are used to fend off an attacker. Strikes with a baton are easy to learn. The challenge with an expandable baton is that most are only 21 to 26 inches long. In order to utilize a baton, you have to be in very close proximity to your attacker, when the ultimate goal should be to get away. Also finding an appropriate carry method may be a challenge to allow for quick access.
REMEMBER: With any of these options, your goal is self defense and in virtually all cases, to get away from your attacker. Therefore, the best options are those that keep distance between you and your attacker allowing you time to react and escape.