Being armed is an essential part of self defense. Not every scenario can be solved by talking, running or even by using your empty hands. If you do decide to arm yourself, you need to make sure you choose the right weapon for you and that you learn to use it properly. This process starts with your personally outlook on life.
Is Carrying a Weapon Right for You?
You need to start by asking yourself some very important questions. Are you capable of violence? Do you believe it is ok to hurt someone else in order to defend yourself? Are you willing to take a life in order to protect your own? How about your family members and other loved ones? Your religion, personal philosophy, and values will be your primary guides here.
If you are not willing to hurt another to defend yourself, then you should not carry a weapon. A weapon will be useless to you and may actually become a liability if someone who intends to do harm with it steals or takes it from you. It may take you time to decide on your stance in regards to self defense, but you should consider the factors carefully and make a decision.
You need to make these important decisions before the pressure is on! If you wait to make your decisions while being the victim of a violent assault, then you may freeze or overreact because of the stress. If you freeze, you could potentially lose your life or become gravely injured because you are unable to respond. If you overreact, you could lose all your money and valuable possessions due to very expensive legal fees. You may possibly live the rest of your life in prison. None of these outcomes are good. Make your decision while you have the time to think. If you decide that you are capable of using a weapon, then you should take the time to pick the right one(s) to carry.
Choosing the Right Weapon
When choosing weapons for self defense, you must know and follow your local, state and federal laws. Though staying alive is your primary concern, living in prison is not the future you want. You should have options within the law that allow you to protect yourself. If you do not, then move somewhere else that does. Not every county, city or state has laws that are favorable to defending yourself.
Some weapons are permitted in areas where others are not. Examples of this are gun free zones, airport terminals and schools. You should consider what weapons you can have with you if you are in an area where your primary weapon is not allowed. I carry a firearm most places, but when I am in the post office, I have a knife. When I am on the plane, I have a flashlight and a tactical pen. Know what you need and adjust to your environment.
Understand the pros and cons for each weapon you consider. Training is necessary for all types of self defense, but some weapons will require more training. Firearms in particular, require lots of training not only for effective use, but also for safe use and handling. Owning a firearm is a big responsibly and the ramifications of lacking discipline or making a mistake can be severe. Some weapons such as pepper spray have limited effectiveness and may not stop an attacker. With pepper spray, it is also easy to unintentionally spray yourself. Other weapons, such as small impact weapons, require you to be very close to your attacker in order to use them. This proximity puts you in more danger. Understanding the pros and cons of each will help you decide which weapon to carry as well as how best to use each one.
There are several different levels of force for the weapons types you can carry. These types range from a weapon that is not likely to permanently injure someone to something that is likely to seriously injure or kill. In regards to self defense, the following categories of weapons will be the most relative for you to consider:
Non-lethal weapons - These weapons include pepper spray and tear gas. They are not designed to kill or cause serious bodily injury. Though they can kill someone in very rare situations, it is not likely and the chances are very remote.
Less-than-lethal weapons - These include impact weapons such as clubs, batons, keychains, flashlights as well as electronic devices such as stun guns and tasers. Though they are not designed or used with the intent to seriously injure or kill, they do have a greater likelihood of leading to serious injury or death than non-lethal weapons. A strike to the thigh with a baton could simply make an attacker drop due to pain, but a blow to the head could easily kill him.
Lethal weapons - These include weapons like knives, swords, and firearms which are designed to cause serious bodily injury or death, and are likely to do so. No, your hands are not included, no matter how awesome your skills are.
There are other weapons that fall into additional categories, but most of those are more appropriate for law enforcement or military use and are therefore not discussed here.
You must know what the intended use is for each weapon and only use it when that use is necessary for your survival. The amount of force you use to defend yourself must be proportional to that which is being used against you. Your choice in weapon is related to this fact. Because weapons fall into different categories of force, the appropriate use of each one varies. If you are carrying a lethal weapon, but the situation you find yourself in only calls for a small amount of force, then you may not be able to (legally) use your weapon. If you use it, you will be taking a big risk, and may end up in jail.
Your choice of weapon has serious implications. To avoid criminal charges, you want to use a weapon that fits the circumstance. A common misconception with firearms use is that someone will plan to fire a warning shot or just shoot someone in the leg to wound them. The problem here is that the defender is indicating that the lethal weapon was used in a situation wherein the immediate use of deadly force was not necessary. For example: The warning shot could hit an unintended target, or the defender could accidentally kill the attacker when it was not justifiable to do so. Your weapon and the amount of force it produces when used should match that of your threat.
No weapon will answer all of your self defense needs. Violent encounters occur in many different situations, and the appropriate responses for each vary in the amount of force you should use to defend yourself. Though varying circumstances can change what is legally justifiable, you probably should not shoot someone only for yelling at you, even if you feel like he deserves it. On the other hand, misting someone with pepper spray who is shooting at you is probably not enough. The truth is, you will need more than one weapon and the ability to use your natural weapons (empty hands) in order to be well prepared for self defense.
Get Training with your Weapon
Just like driving a car requires instruction and practice, so does using a weapon. Though it may be easy to pick up a bat and hit someone with it, it is harder to do that without getting hit or tackled in the process. Proper training will give you a better chance of stopping your attacker and help you minimize any injuries that you may sustain in the process.
You need training to be safe, so that you do not hurt yourself or others unintentionally. One mistake with a firearm or a knife and you can be seriously injured. Even with pepper spray you need to know by feel how to aim the spray. The last thing you need to do when being attacked is to spray yourself in the face. Get proper instruction and training so that you can handle and use your weapon safely.
You need training to be effective, so that you will survive. In order to get the best use of your weapon, you need to train how to use it and develop skill to access it and use it quickly. Even at close range, shooting and hitting a target while you are under stress is hard. You need to learn how to use your weapons and practice with them so that you are less likely to make a mistake. Since you are carrying a weapon to protect yourself when the potential ramifications of failure means you could lose your life, you should take the time to develop your skills.
The greater the complexity of the weapon, the more instruction, practice and training you will need. Even with pepper spray, you will need to learn to draw the canister and spray at a target. Though the overall concept is the same for a firearm, there is a lot more detail in doing this safely and effectively. Don’t let that stop you. Invest the time it takes. If you do, then you will be prepared when you need the skill.
If you are interested in learning more about weapons and self defense, consider joining the Tactical Arts Academy Warrior Athlete Program. Training includes how to use and defend against weapons of all types. We can help you learn to protect yourself and enjoy making yourself better.
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