Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Case Study: Woman Uses Her Stun Gun to Protect Atlanta Area Officer

In January, Tanisha Cross of Lithona, GA did a very brave thing (link to news story): She used her stun gun (what the media have called a “taser gun,” though it was a different model, not a C2 Taser Gun) to help a police officer subdue an attacker. I want to highlight this incident because it represents the very best practices when it comes to using self defense products and highlights the specific advantages you have when you buy a Taser gun instead of a more lethal alternative.

Ms. Cross was on her way to Wal-Mart with her mother when she noticed a man attacking a DeKalb County police officer. The assailant had already stolen the officer’s radio and rubbed pepper spray in his eyes. She grabbed her stun gun, used it against the attacker, and protected the officer until he regained is composure. Eventually, the officer and a nearby security guard were able to effectively fight back.

That’s the story. Now read it at the link, and let’s look at what Tanisha Cross did right:

She asked to intervene: She got the officer’s okay before jumping in. This is important. Situations with police can escalate into life and death struggles, and the officer doesn’t necessarily know who you are. Furthermore, his duty to protect you may outweigh any benefit you can provide. Ms. Cross asked to help, making it absolutely clear whose side she was on, and ensuring that the officer really needed help.

Multiple strikes: Tanisha Cross didn’t treat the stun gun like a “magic wand.” She struck the attacker’s limbs multiple times to keep him from closing in, hitting or grappling with either herself or the officer. This highlights one of the main assets of a stun gun: its ability to prevent a stronger person from taking hold of you.

Weapon retention: Weapon retention was a major element in this altercation. At the time of the attack, the officer was trying to keep the perpetrator from grabbing his gun after losing his radio and in all likelihood (reports aren’t clear) having his own pepper spray used against him. Ms. Cross attacked the limbs, keeping the attacker from grappling for the stun gun while protecting the officer’s firearm: the most dangerous element in the conflict.

If you carry any sort of weapon you must always think of the consequences if somebody else gets it. Police need to carry firearms and you might choose to do so yourself, but having the option of a worst case scenario where someone shocks you with your own weapon instead of shooting you is a welcome option when you exercise your rights.

In short, we salute Tanisha Cross for her bravery, but more than that, we congratulate her form being smart. Applied intelligence is the most important self defense tool in anyone’s arsenal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Four Self Defense Products No Hiker Should Be Without

I love hiking. It’s one of my main hobbies and what I use to keep active. Hiking is pretty safe as long as you’re prepared. That means taking adequate food and water, bringing your cell phone if there’s coverage, planning your route (and taking a compass to navigate if it’s rough terrain) and most important, letting other people know where you’re going. Make sure you always have a “trip buddy” in town who knows where you are and when to expect you back, who can make emergency calls if you don’t return.

Beyond that, it’s a sad fact that you should think of self defense as well. Crime isn’t just an urban phenomenon. Drug dealers pick up shipments in nature areas; addicts go there to use drugs out of sight. Beyond that, there are also human predators that look for unprepared hikers. And leaving aside human threats, don’t underestimate wild animals. During strange weather, many shy predators will come closer to people than normal because their normal prey species have gone elsewhere. Other animals have grown overly accustomed to people. This commonly happens with bears. While wolves almost never target humans, feral dogs might.

Don’t get paranoid – these are only possible threats. Nevertheless, it’s better to be prepared. Here are four essential self defense products to help you protect yourself on a hike.

Bear or Dog Pepper Spray: Keep bear pepper spray and dog pepper spray to repel members of these species when they get too close. Remember that when you encounter a strange animal, the best policy is to calmly leave the area without yelling or making sudden movements. Running may spark an animal’s predator instincts and besides, dangerous animals can run faster than you. And of course, humans don’t particularly like animal repellent either.

Boots: We don’t sell boots, but a proper pair really is an essential self defense product. Many people hike in casual footwear. That’s a big mistake. If you get lost or have to run from a threatening individual, twisting your ankle can be enough to kill you, either through exposure or when an attacker catches up. Ignore style; get a pair that fit you and suit the terrain.

Flashlight: A safety light (scroll down to see one that attaches to your cell phone) is not only important at night to avoid obstacles but in any situation where you might encounter variable lighting conditions, such as heavy foliage and overcast days. Any flashlight can serve as an impact weapon. The best ones for this are steel shot security models, but on a hike they may add extra weight. Pick one you can comfortably use in one hand and store without outing it in your pack – you don’t want to rummage through your gear in an emergency. Nowadays small LED models pack a punch

Knife: A self defense knife can be used to protect yourself when you feel the need to employ potentially lethal force. Besides that, the merits of a knife on the woods are too numerous to mention. You can cut a walking stick or can to help you walk, chop firewood into manageable sizes, cut rope – the potential is only limited by your needs and creativity.