When It’s Not A Gunfight

A firearm isn't right for every violent incident. Sometimes you need a less-lethal defensive tool.

posted on December 17, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

As a firearm-related publication, we spend most of our time talking about the defensive use of those firearms. However, many criminal attacks occur where the use of firearms may not be justified because the criminal is not armed with any sort of weapon. And, while the chance of being killed is slim, the chance of taking a physical beating is far from being a pleasant thought. Concerned citizens should also give some thought as to dealing with attacks when they are in places where they cannot lawfully be armed. It is simply a good idea to give some thought to less lethal defensive tools.

Blackjacks, saps, and other striking instruments are available, easy to conceal and can be quite effective. My friend Doc Barranti makes a nice leather pouch that the calls the Life Changer. This pouch will hold $10 worth of quarters and snaps onto the pants belt; it’s handy, out of the way, and makes a very effective sap. The important thing is to make sure that these striking instruments are legal in your city and state.

Another effective striking tool is the walking cane, and I don’t know of any city or state where it is prohibited. There is also a good bit of training available for cane fighting. When you research cane fighting on the internet you will see that there are even special fighting canes that can be employed. I generally advise against the purchase of these simply because they look so much like weapons. To effectively use a cane in personal defense, it needs to come as a surprise to the attacker. For that reason, my own cane is a conventional looking cane made from sturdy carbon fiber. 

A canister of pepper spray, again where legal, is also quite effective. My advice is to buy the best quality spray available. I would also suggest that you buy two canisters so that you can practice with one (and check with the manufacturer; some offer inert training canisters). It is important to determine the spray’s effective range and how to get it into action quickly. It is also important to remember not to spray it into the wind, nearly always a self-correcting mistake.

If an attack occurs in the home and you can’t get to a gun, or it is not appropriate to the situation, one is still not defenseless. The typical home kitchen is simply full of objects that can be used in one’s defense.  Skillets, heavy cutting boards, and that pan heating up your lunch soup will all work in a pinch. I once knew of a ranch woman who threw a large pot pull of boiling coffee on a home invader and it discouraged him very effectively. The average workbench area out in the garage is another source of impromptu defensive tools. 

The important thing is to develop the ability to think and respond quickly. Wherever you are right now, take a minute to look around you and count the objects that could be used as defensive tools. My guess is that you can come up with quite a list.  Think fast, use what’s at hand, and don’t quit fighting.



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