Granny Get Your Gun (Or Not)

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Protecting oneself from violent attacks in the society we live in today has become a necessity, especially for single women who live alone. If the women, like myself, are a few years older than the young crowd but still by no means old, this presents another scenario.

Unlike the rifle-touting Granny of the old television show “The Beverly Hillbillies,” not all of us are real keen on carrying or even owning a gun. This decision boils down to one important question: If presented with a violent situation, could you actually pull the trigger and take a human life in a matter of life or death for you or a loved one? If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes,” then perhaps another form of self-defense may be more suitable to you. Even though they may not be quite as cut and dry, there are other effective forms of self-defense .

Pepper spray should be given the credit it is due. It is a non-lethal OC agent that is supposed to shut down an attacker’s vision. The pain is intense and the loss of vision makes the attack almost impossible to carry out, plus pepper spray rarely requires a permit to carry. It does require a defensive mindset, but not much training — just be sure to get a good one. UDAP makes one designed to stop a Grizzly bear and any other mammal smaller than 1000 pounds. The main thing to remember is to keep it accessible; having it at the bottom of your purse renders it useless.

Kimber makes two highly effective models of pepper blasters, both of which fire a stream over 13 feet at 90 mph. They are approximately the size of smartphones, have a trigger in the middle, and have a barrel of spray located both above and below the trigger. The Pepper Blaster 2 is shaped like a gun, but is bright red so as not to be confused with a handgun. It also has sights that help make aiming easier. There are premium pepper sprays that are capable of getting the spray behind glasses and even behind masks. They generally cost less than $50 and each contain two blasts of potent spray.

Stun guns and tasers are easily confused. With a stun gun, you have to be either in direct contact with or very close proximity to an attacker, whereas tasers let you have some distance but are generally a one-time-use weapon. Stun guns are easy to use in a wide range of categories and work by emitting a steady jolt of high electricity to the opponent that only ceases when the user releases the trigger. They are capable of instantly stopping the threat and creating immense pain.

Often overlooked as a weapon, a baton can also incapacitate an attacker. These are long rods that extend from 16 inches to 26 inches, and some even double as flashlights. Although the various sizes must be tailored to the individual, sometimes the shorter ones are easier to use as encounters are often in tight quarters. Batons have found their way into the duty belts of a vast majority of police officers. The United States Marine Corps trains troops to use these effectively for non-lethal crowd control.

Even though all of these means of self-defense are non-lethal, some places still prohibit their use, even pepper sprays. Though more vulgar, there are other weapons to fit the bill. Mag lights are nothing more than giant flashlights filled with D batteries, but they pack a huge punch. Smith and Wesson produce pocket-sized self-defense pens that are flashlights and also glass breakers.

The Ninja Spike keychain is a weapon where just the name would be enough to stop me. It comes with an attachment for a keychain and fits perfectly between the fingers when you make a fist. The spikes will do massive damage to an attacker and is very intimidating. The Honeycomb Hairbrush made by Cold Steel is a hairbrush with a twist: The brush pulls off to reveal a 3-1/2 inch dagger. The Paracord Monkey Ball looks like a cute keychain but has steel balls embedded in the paracord that are designed to inflict serious damage to an attacker.

Perhaps the best self-defense requires no special equipment. Taking a self-defense course can empower anyone by learning to use their own body as a weapon. This takes physical strength and dedication, but it is well worth it.

Of course, we all prefer not to have to resort to any kind of self-defense, and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every woman alone, whether out in public or in the privacy of her own home, can take precautions to protect herself before something happens.

• Choose a safe place to live. Yes, this may mean moving if you have suddenly found yourself alone, and it may not be the place you have always called home. Some people feel safer in the city with people around them all the time. I prefer the country, it is where I grew up.

• No matter where you reside, have a plan of escape, not only from intruders, but also for natural disasters. If doors are blocked, from what windows can you escape? Have flashlights and cell phones close (and charged at all times). Get to know your neighbors. There were times when we all knew our neighbors, but not so much anymore in our fast-paced world. This can be beneficial for all involved as you look out for each other.

• A home security system can create a safety zone. Many times this will be enough to stop an attacker, and a system will provide a greater sense of security when coming home and entering an empty house. I am impressed with SimpliSafe as it is wireless and you can install it in a matter of minutes. It is affordable and reliable.

• Most of all, use common sense. Be sure to lock doors, even when you are in the house but cannot see or hear someone come in. Follow the old rule of never letting strangers into your home. Install mobile apps on your phone that can send alerts when you are in danger.

A woman is 30 to 40 percent more likely to be attacked rather than a man. Over 22 million women in the United States have been raped, and every 90 seconds someone is sexually assaulted. A gun is the most effective self-defense tool one can carry, but only if you feel comfortable enough to use it. You do have other choices, and any choice is better than nothing.

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