Many people are apprehensive about the concept of carrying a loaded firearm concealed. They do, however, understand that the world can be a savage place, including bad guys who actively seek victims to prey upon. Despite this knowledge, they are just not quite ready to take the philosophical and moral approach that is recommended by knowledgeable experts–obtain a reliable firearm and the training to use it properly and carry it with you at all times that you can legally do so. Properly researched studies all come to the same conclusion–armed victims are victimized less often and less brutally than unarmed victims.
Many people who are not quite yet ready to “jump into that lake,” however, choose to carry a “non-lethal” (better and more properly referred to as “less-lethal”) weapon. Examples would include pepper spray, collapsible batons and Tasers.
What many people do not understand is that most of these weapons are actually capable of taking human life. Pepper spray is lethal to a severe asthmatic. Tasers have been shown to cause death in people with pre-existing cardiac conditions who also have opiates in their system. Hopefully, the comparisons between an 18 inch collapsible baton and a 34 inch Louisville Slugger do not need to be drawn in graphic detail–batons can also kill.
As such, these are not “non-lethal” (sorry for the double negative) weapons – they are less lethal–less lethal than, say, a firearm or, even a machete. As such, these weapons can only be employed, legally, by a civilian, when that civilian is an imminent fear of death or great bodily injury at the hands of an aggressor.
For the on-duty law-enforcement officer, these less lethal options are invaluable tools. They can often mean the difference between life and death—not only the officer’s, but also the person who has to be subdued. For civilian use, however, a deeper analysis might yield a change of mind on the issue.
In short, civilians will almost never be called upon to take proactive action against someone who need merely be subdued. Police officers, however, are routinely required to do so—taking a crowbar away from an angry drunk, for instance. A civilian would merely avoid that same drunk and call 911.
Since the less-lethal options we have mentioned are only effective at near contact distance, a civilian would have to close the distance gap to the assailant in order to effectively use them. Moving toward your opponent rather than away, especially when in fear for one’s life, is ill-advised.
Civilian Tasers have electronic leads that only reach 15 feet. One would have close to within 5 yards of the assailant in order or to successfully employ that Taser. Anytime you are that close to assailant, you will be at their mercy approximately one second after they decide to attack you—not nearly enough time to react. This is not a good position for someone to put themselves into–especially someone who has not yet embraced the concept of lethal force sufficient to allow them to make a moral decision to carry a gun.
In short, if one is not willing to go armed with a firearm, one should give some serious thought to whether the carry of a “less-lethal” weapon is a good idea. For the experienced practitioner of these skills, a backup form of less-lethal force may not be a bad idea. For all but the most seasoned practitioner, however, it may be better to spend that money on practice ammunition and range time and embrace the morally and tactically appropriate use of a firearm to defend oneself and one’s loved ones from lethal attack.