Issue 15

Choosing The Correct Self-Defense Tool

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Before we get into the "what", let's think about the "why".

Why do you need a self-defense tool?

I think of them as insurance.  We buy homeowner or renter insurance as protection.  We don't expect our place to burn to the ground, but we know it's a possibility, so we protect ourselves financially by buying insurance.

The same goes for selecting and training with a self-defense tool.  We don't expect to need it, but have it available should the need arise.

How often might we need this?

Here are some sobering 2008 FBI crime statistics (click here to get more detail):
  • A property crime is committed every 3.2 seconds.
  • A violent crime is committed every 22.8 seconds.
In particular there is:
... an aggravated assault every 37.8 seconds.
... a rape every 5.9 minutes.
... a murder every 32.3 minutes

OK - we've recognized the need to get ourselves some "insurance".  How do we select the right tool?  We have 5 things we want to consider:   Situation/location, Your physical limitations, Distance from the attacker, Legal considerations and Price.

Anticipated situation/location.  Where do you think problems might arise?  In your home?  While walking your dog?  While jogging in the park?  While walking down the street?  While at work - such as being a real estate agent, a bartender, a store clerk or deliveryperson?

Physical limitations.  Do you have full use of your body?  Are you restricted to a wheelchair or use a cane?  Do you have adequate hand strength to pull a trigger or depress a spray plunger?  Do you have long fingernails, large hands or fingers that may interfere with properly using your chosen tool?  Are you on oxygen or have lung problems that might be complicated by using a defensive spray?

Distance from attacker.  In your anticipated situations, how far away will you likely be once you recognize your threat?  With many defensive tools, their effectiveness has limitations based upon the distance between you and the assailant.  

Legal considerations.  With few exceptions, any non-felon has the ability to own most self-defense tools.  Still, there are limitations on where you can possess thems.  For instance, if you determine that a handgun is your best choice, most Californians are limited to possessing them only in their homes or permanent places of business.  Defensive sprays and stunning devices have certain limitations as well (though much less restrictive).  For these reasons, most people will have multiple defensive tools at their disposal - one for the home, and one for when they are in public or traveling.

Price.  This should be the least important consideration.  As with most things, try and get recommendations from friends and trusted associates about where to get the best value for your money.  While you don't want to overpay, you don't want to sacrafice quality for a few dollars.

And of course, get trained on how to use whatever tool you decide to purchase!  Knowing how to properly use your defensive tool is half the battle.

Safety Tip:  The key to maintaining your safety is to always have your defensive tool close at hand and ready to be used.  A pepper spray or stun gun left in the car will not do you any good if you are attacked while jogging in the park.  You must have your defensive tool within immediate reach at all times.

Next Issue:  How and Where to Practice



Bison Risk Management Associates is a Northern California-based company providing Personal Safety and Emergency Preparedness training, workshops and consulting for individuals, businesses and organizations.

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