*Note: This is a researched article not a SDR research article. ( contents from its source only)
I am disheartened with how many law abiding citizens I meetin San Diego that do not take simple steps to maintain the means to defendthemselves from physical assault. Whether it is a veteran parolee, a couple ofshaved headed MS-13 gangsters or a road raging meth-head; the threat of physical attack is very real and the result of failing to defend yourself can be catastrophic.
While urban Californians do not generally have the legalavailability of handguns for their self-defense while in public due to theoppressive policies of urban sheriffs, that does not mean that civilians haveto go unarmed or unprepared.
Luckily, for California citizens debarred the use of arms,The FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics for 2008 show that only 55% of criminalassaults involve the use dangerous weapons (gun, knife, club).
That means thatnearly half of all simple criminal assaults come from fists or feet. In thoseself defense situations, a handgun and its associated deadly force potential israrely justifiable for deployment, and can result in the arrest of victims who brandish a handgun in an unjustified manor. Law-abiding citizens actually havesignificantly effective tools at their disposal for self-defense from this typeof attack, yet sadly, rarely do they have them available to them when they need
Criminals tend to be better skilled in unarmed combat, and inbetter physical shape, than the average citizen (one of the few benefits ofspending time in State prison!). Unless you plan on spending years is a martial arts gymnasium honing the skills of grappling and striking, you need to utilize projectile weapons to safely and effectively defend against criminal attack.
Projectile based weapons allow for a “standoff distance” deployment between youand your attacker; keeping them out of striking distance. Two weapons arereadily and legally available for that purpose for law abiding Californians:
Pepper Spray and Tazers. I’ll save the Taser discussion for a future article.
Chemical weapons have been available to citizens for decadesin California. When I first started carrying chemical weapons for self-defenseback in the early 1980’s, a state permit was required to do so.
As I recall,that required a four-hour class at a local junior college. I sat though thatclass a half a dozen times with friends and family members so they could carry“Mace” with them. Lucky, a permit is no longer required in California foradults to carry chemical weapons for personal self-defense. Minors age 16 orolder can carry a chemical weapon with written parental permission.Over the years, most of those friends and family which Ihelped get trained with chemical weapons have had the unfortunate opportunityto use them against criminal attackers.
To a person, they have relayed to methat once the attacker had been hit with the spray, it ended the attack. I havehad that same experience over a dozen times myself. Every single time I havesprayed an attacker (or a suspect resisting arrest) with a chemical weapon, itsimply “took the fight out of them”. Sure, they could still stand and walk, buttheir combative ability was so significantly degraded, that they dared notcontinue an attack due to almost certain defeat. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]Police recruit hit with pepper spray... ouch!
Having been hit with chemical weapons numerous times myself(voluntarily in training and occasionally by splash back in deployment), I havecome to refer to the effect of chemical weapons as “You can’t see, you can’tbreathe, and you feel like you are on fire.” No wonder it is so effective forself-defense! Almost all of these past deployments were with the old Mace brandof chemical weapon spray, consisting of an active ingredient called CN(Phenacyl chloride). While Mace was reasonably effective, modern processingtechnologies have provided us with a far superior active ingredient today:Oleoresin capsicum (OC), aka Pepper Spray.
A good canister of Pepper Spray is three times more powerfulthan the old CN based Mace. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that theoverall effect is completely overwhelming. Even drugged out criminals have verylittle chance of mitigating the effect of pepper spray with excessiveadrenaline or moderate psychosis.
One of the benefits of a chemical weapons spray is that it is a “fire & forget” weapon. Once you fire it at yourtarget, it will take no additional work on your part to do it’s damage, andcontinue to have an effect. “Persistence” is the word used to describe thiscontinuing effect: no matter what a criminal tries to do to mitigate itseffect, it will continue to seriously degrade their combative abilitythroughout the conflict.
A side benefit is it works well against aggressivedogs on the attack. I have prevented myself and my dogs from being bitten by attacking dogs numerous occasions while on urban walks. Assumptions to thecontrary, it works well against even the most notorious breeds of dogs.A couple of practical benefits of choosing pepper spray as aself-defense weapon is its carry-ability and its low cost. Even the moreeffective deployment canisters can easily and comfortably be carried in apocket, purse or a belt holster.
The canisters weigh only three or four ouncesand are reasonably compact. As for cost: nothing beats the value of pepperspray. The best canister of pepper spray can be had for as little as $14, andno more than $35 for advanced “keychain” models.A final benefit of using pepper spray in self defense relatesto law enforcement and legal issues that are not exactly codified in law. Whena law enforcement officer shows up at your location after a confrontation hasoccurred, they are looking for what is called “presence of mind”.
If you werenot provoking a fight and went so far as attempting to avoid it, you were inthe “right” presence of mind and will most likely be considered by theresponding cops as a victim of an assault or battery, verses a mutual
combatant… even if you “strike first” with a shot of pepper spray as adefensive action.
That means that you don’t get arrested, go to jail or getcharged with a crime.In addition to the above attempted mitigation of conflict onyour part, if you use pepper spray to defend yourself, rather than your fists,this provides responding law enforcement with a near certainty that you did nothave intent to seriously harm your assailant in the conflict, nor wish to continue in the conflict once it was underway.
This is due to preparing yourself for areasonable level of self-defense beforehand, and not continuing to attempt tofurther harm your assailant once the attack was stopped. The bottom line, shortof improper actions on your part, is that you will be “legally golden” in aconflict if you use pepper spray defensively.As for the legal courts, should it ever go that far, pepper spray is considered to be less force that a closed fist used in a punch, solong as you were justified in its use. Judges in California truly prefer us to defend ourselves from unjustified assault with pepper spray, over pushing or fisticuffs.
Again, it comes down to the interpretation of your presence of mindby law enforcement. Assuming that you are not seriously intoxicated orcombative when the cops show up, or have a criminal record of violence, youruse of pepper spray to defend yourself from a simple assault will usually go inyour favor. Criminals beware: If you use pepper spray against someone in an unjustified manor, you will be charged with a felony in this state. That wouldlikely be a “vacation” for few years in State prison for someone with acriminal record. ASP Keyring Defender (Cut away view).
Best choice for akeyring slolution.Keep in mind when shopping for pepper spray that Californialaw limits the capacity of the canisters to two and one half ounces or less(2.5oz), so stay away from the three and four ounce police models.
My recommendation would be either a two ounce flip top canister of Fox Labs with a“cone-fog” dispersal nozzle (a short version of a durable and reliable fullsized police canister), or if you insist on carrying it as a keychain; the ASPKey Defender is probably the best bet. Both of these are reliable, durable, andeffective and have easy to use dispensers.
These are critical factors in aweapon system. Both brands also have inert training versions available forpractice, which is a good idea for inexperienced new users. The Fox Labs brand also happens to be the “hottest” pepper spray on the market. I carry both ofthose items with me daily and every once and a while I am very glad that I had them nearby.While you might be able to find an ASP Defender at a local police supply store, you will probably have to order the Fox Labs via the Internet.
While there are a few other brands with reasonable performance on theshelves (First Defense, Sabre) many police supply stores will not sell the“good stuff” to civilians out of “respect” to their law enforcement clientele.While the Mace brand is still available at local gun shops, and the canistersare still of a reasonably good quality, the power of their OC mix isn’t evenclose to that of the Fox Labs.
I would also seriously recommend against“thumb-twist” dispensers, commonly housed in leather key-fobs… they always seemto misfire, and with the exception of the Fox Labs version, are poor quality dispensers and contain a weak mix of OC.Carrying pepper spray for self-defense makes a lot of sensefor multiple reasons. It is effective, it’s reliable, it’s easy to carry, andit is very low in cost. I implore you to make use of pepper spray as aneveryday carry weapon and share this article with your family members andfriends so they too can take advantage of this great self-defense tool.