Carrying Defensive Sprays

Brillianter looked at the results of his private citizen survey, and was surprised more people aren’t carrying defensive sprays.  He makes a case for it.  When I was spending more time in Philadelphia, and more likely to run into drunk assholes than I typically am in the burbs, I carried OC.  Once I talked to someone who was on a grand jury over in New Jersey, who deadlocked over the issue of “Why did the nice police officer shoot the guy with a knife when he could have used pepper spray?”  Ultimately they ended up no billing him, but a several folks on the jury were not happy about it, but it was the law, and the guy I talked to ultimately blamed the training that teaches officers to shoot people charging at them with knives.  Apparently he expected kung-fu moves with the officers night stick, and thinks pepper spray drops a deadly threat as reliably as a pistol.  I figured I didn’t want to end up in a similar situation, so I solved the problem by not carrying a spray.

I think Brillianter makes a good case.  You’re a lot more likely to end up facing a non-lethal force situation than you are a lethal force situation, so it makes sense to carry a spray.

10 thoughts on “Carrying Defensive Sprays”

  1. That’s always been the fear I had. If you defend yourself with a firearm AFTER spraying the person with pepper spray, how will that look to a jury? I can just see a Denver D.A. showing video of how crippling pepper spray is, and calling a defensive shooting an execution because the knife wielder didn’t stop when sprayed.

  2. Pepper spray is contra-indicated for people with asthma, especially indoors. Even less than a full shot can trigger an attack.

    I guess there’s a place for it, but I would think more for people who don’t carry guns than those who do. A knife being a deadly weapon, I’m going to use the most effective stopper I have. That leaves only a fairly narrow band of justified defense, but not justified lethal force.

  3. I’d bet that with many people it’s a matter of conveinience. I know it is with me. “just how much stuff do you feel like carrying?”

    Cell phone, knife,handgun, spare mag, wallet, keys. I’m running out of pockets and I don’t care to wear a bat belt, fanny pack, or man- bag.

  4. Heckler:

    That’s the case with me too, really. I think everyone has to make compromises. But Mostly Genius makes a good point when he points out how many people are toting backup guns.

  5. “If you defend yourself with a firearm AFTER spraying the person with pepper spray, how will that look to a jury?”

    It will look like you tried to use non-lethal means and the guy was still attacking you. Then you can cue the parade of law enforcement officers and trainers to come in and talk about use of force.

    Instead of thinking about how in some weird edge case using pepper spray is going to cause you a problem, how about thinking about all of the common cases where an application of pepper spray solves the problem BEFORE it escalates.

  6. Brillianter … I know what you’re saying, in most situations the pepper spray will be enough and it’s a nice option to have. But this commentary is based on a thread that starts with a police officer who runs into a lot of negativity from the jury because he went to his gun instead of pepper spray. And he’s a cop, who probably receives a certain amount of preference by the jury to begin with.

    My lawyer will bring in professional witnesses who say how powerful pepper spray is, the DA will bring in professional witnesses who say that pepper spray is a a manstopper and using a gun after that is nothing short of an execution … and then I’m taking my chances.

    I’m sure your advice is good, but my less lethal self defense will be screaming “stop it” and running away like a little girl. just wish I was a faster runner …

  7. The majority of men do not carry a spray because they think it is girlie. These men should look into the ASP Key Defender.

  8. …And if you carry spray and you ever have to shoot a threat, what will they ask in court? “Why didn’t she use non-lethal means?” No thanks. I can just about manage to use a gun properly under stress and the only reason I carry a knife is to cut my way out of seat belt.

    Faced with a threat, I will flee first;if fleeing does not work, I will stop the threat. Condiments are not an effective means of so doing.

  9. I carry Sabre Defense (I own multiple canisters) everywhere I go.

    Regarding the “how can you justify shooting someone after you spray them” point, I engaged in training were we were pepper sprayed and then had to draw and fire. You use your off hand to hold one eye open and fire with your primary hand.

    It sucks being sprayed, just as it sucks going through the gas chamber in the .mil. OC is not the end all solution, but for the bulk of the population “karate in the can” will resolve many defensive encounters.

    Just remember:

    1. wind is not your friend
    2. discharge in a car, and you will get the effect as well
    3. spray in a Z pattern starting across the forehead, down across the nasal passages, and across the mouth. Repeat until threat diminishes and seize on the opportunity to create distance between you and threat.

    One note on foam OC, it’s not unrealistic to expect that someone covered in foam can grab a handful and fling some back your way.

    If you choose to purchase an OC, purchase the inert version to practice. I’ve met/trained a number of firearms people who carry OC who have never discharged a canister. Also note the expiration. When OC expires, replace it.

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