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WHAT TO CARRY WHEN … YOU CAN’T CARRY YOUR GUN

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Concealed carry means more than just carrying your gun. Concealed carry also means carrying other self-defense tools. Everyone knows not to bring a knife to a gun fight but when you don’t have a gun there are other means to protect yourself. Here is a list of options you can carry when you can’t carry your gun.

Pepper Spray

I’m a huge fan of pepper spray. It is inexpensive, light, easy to conceal and immensely effective in disabling an attacker.  The active ingredient is usually capsaicin, which causes severe irritation to the eyes and impairs breathing. In plain and simple language, it burns a lot in your most vulnerable place, your eyes.
Why I like pepper spray: Because it causes an attacker to immediately cover his face. This leaves the attacker vulnerable to your counter-attack.

How to use it: First of all you have to know how your pepper spray works. Is it a stream or mist? From there you can determine the effective range. So piece of advice number one – spray something to see how your canister discharges.

Second: You need to know how to discharge the spray without looking at it directly. Learn to use it with your weak hand and practice. In a stressful situation you don’t have the luxury of learning how to work it and you can’t fumble around. Fumbling means you have to take your attention to the spray instead of the situation or you may drop it. Both actions embolden an attacker.

Third: Once you know the mechanics of the spray you need the courage to hold your ground until it is to be used. This is much harder than you think. My philosophy is to hide the spray until it is to be used and wait until the ultimate opportunity to strike. Spray as much as you can in one shot and deliver a punch or kick with everything you have inside of you to the attacker. Showing the spray as a show of force enables the attacker to know he has to change his tactics to attack you. He may attack or abandon the conflict but if he chooses to fight you will lose the element of surprise. What he will then do is rush you and take you down and once you are on the ground your focus will not be on trying to spray anyone.

Here is one more thing to consider. Pepper spray comes in very concealable modes. There are canisters that look exactly like lip-stick or ink-pens. I carry a pepper spray pen in my shirt pocket when I travel into Washington DC, although pepper spray is illegal in DC I still want it with me and it doesn’t attract any attention in my shirt pocket. Better to have it and not need is what I figure. Also, pepper spray is not too frowned upon in court because it is usually not considered an offensive weapon and it is nonlethal.

Stun Guns & Tasers

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There is a big difference between stun guns and tasers. Stun guns have nodes that are attached to the unit and the electricity travels between the nodes. They do not ‘shoot’ electrical beams or fire lighting bolts (yes, people ask that all the time). Tasers fire two small electrodes up to a range of 15 feet. The nodes attach to the target and the electricity passes into the target.

In order to give them a fair test I was hit with a stun gun seven times: bare skin, t-shirts and a winter coat. The range of the voltage was 350,000 to 950,000. On bare skin it will leave a burn mark, and 350,000 volts will easily penetrate a heavy canvas insulated coat. What does it feel like? It hurts a lot and feels like a combination of a wasp sting, cigar burn and a surge of electricity all at once. It will not paralyze you like a taser will. In a fighting situation it will be impractical to hold a stun gun to someone’s body long enough to inflict a level of paralysis.

The most important defense aspect of a stun gun is intimidation. They are loud, especially indoors, and it sounds like a lot of static on steroids. Visually you can see the electrical arc and it is frightening. I offered one to an editor friend of mine at the NRA and he said “Mike, I probably have five guns in my car right now but I’ll tell ya, I’m afraid of that thing.” After showing people stun guns for many years, especially in an enclosed area the natural and immediate reaction is to put your arms close to your body and turn away as if to get away from it quickly.

There are a variety of configurations of stun guns. They come in about every size and shape from something about the size of a cigarette box to a walking cane to a device that looks like a cell phone or flashlight.  One unique model is the “Blast Knuckles” and it holds like brass knuckles with finger loops and discharges where your fist would strike. There is little chance of dropping it or having it removed from your hand.

It seems all creatures fear electricity. One use I had not expected is warding off aggressive dogs. While walking my dog in rural areas you are often charged by aggressive dogs. One particular mean beast came at me hard and when he was about ten feet away I pointed the stun gun toward him and gave a quick blast and he tucked his tail, got low to the ground and crawled away. I never hit him but just the fear factor is enough to turn away the meanest of dogs.

Prices range from about $35 to $100 depending on the voltage and configuration. Battery life is long – I’ve had the same batteries in stun guns for years and used them often and never changed the batteries.

Tasers run in the $300+ price range. The upside of a taser is that it will immobilize and assailant as long as you keep the current flowing. The down side is, for the most part, you only have one shot. So if you don’t get a solid hit, or you miss, it won’t do you much good. They are relatively bulky and difficult to conceal. But if you need to put someone down and keep them down taser will do the job.

Collapsible Batons

BATON1A baton will easily break a forearm or shatter a knee cap. Most importantly it extends your reach so you can hit an attacker without fear of being hit first. The only way you can block a blow from a baton is with the palm of your hand and there is a good chance you will still have a broken bone.

Batons are very easy to deploy. It only takes a flick of the wrist to extend it from the collapsed position. From the standpoint of intimidation if you walk toward someone and extend the baton it will be frightening – it shows you have a weapon and know how to use it – which is half the battle, and the potential assailant has to think twice about having made you a target.

The cost ranges from $21 for sixteen inch generic baton to $130 for a twenty-six in version from a name brand. I tested the sixteen inch generic and it is impressive. It weighs in, and this is my guess, at about 12 ounces and has enough heft so you feel like you have a piece of steel. The weight is in the front end which increases the striking power. This is one of the smallest batons but it fits nicely in a pocket, or a boot holster or glove compartment.

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