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#188121 - 11/12/09 01:58 PM spin off: non-lethal options for home defense
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
A spin off of another spin off (boy am I getting dizzy). Seriously, though, the original topic was Sue's "Don't take a gun to a bat fight" linked here:
This led to a spin-off by Nighthiker, "Home defense shooting aftermath" linked here:
So why the spin off you ask? Several posts mentioned tazers and other non-lethal means of home defense. Susan added this quote:
"Since 2000, more than 1,200 people have been killed with guns; 70 were children."
and that got me really thinking. If there is even a remote chance that one of those 70 kids was a family member shot by accident I believe we should consider the non-lethal methods of home defense. What are the best methods and is anyone aware of any legal ramifications in the event they are used for defense in a home invasion scenario?
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

#188122 - 11/12/09 02:05 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: Mark_F]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
Sorry to quote myself, but wanted to make sure people consider "what next" when employing less-lethal options:
Originally Posted By: Johnn

While I respect everyone's right to approach their responsibility for self defense as they see fit, Just be sure you think through what happens after employing a Tazer or OC spray. A civilian Tazer gives a 30 second window, where you either need to capitalize on the situation or get away. After that you have a fully functional, probably pretty annoyed bad guy. If you haven't restrained the person, or run away, your situation likely is worse. The reason I mentioned this is I think these are really inappropriate tools for people who are not capable of outrunning their attacker (older or disabled people for example).


Edited by JohnN (11/13/09 03:59 AM)

#188124 - 11/12/09 02:19 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: JohnN]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Great idea -- This is a cut-and-paste of what I just wrote in the aftermath thread:

In the early 1990s -- amidst congressional battles over the assault rifle ban and the Brady Bill -- the National Rifle Association launched a program initially geared for women called "Refuse To Be A Victim." It's less about non-lethal defense (though there is some of that) than avoiding being targeted and situational awareness.

Refuse To Be A Victim is a multi-layered approach for individuals to enhance their security in their home, car, workplace, "personal" security and technological security. I arranged for my entire office building to have two instruction sessions during the annual Crime Prevention Awareness month.


Refuse To Be A Victim has nothing to do with guns.
I credit two strategies I gained from attending a Refuse To Be A Victim session in 1993 with saving me from severe harm during a street attack in 1998. 1) don't scream, instead yell "Fire!" over-and-over if being attacked outside your home and; 2) if carrying a purse, do so on the fence-side or wall-side of the sidewalk. Do not let the perp get you into a car or other place where you will be hidden from public view -- if they are trying to force you, fall to the ground and fake a seizure. It's not easy to pick up someone from the ground who doesn't want to be picked up and is squirming around.

I can't recite everything here. I'll never know what else the program has saved me from since you'll likely never know that some criminal considered targeting you or your home but because of some precaution you took they moved on to another target.

There are several people on this forum, and in this thread, who would probably make excellent RTBAV instructors. The above link includes information on how to become a certified instructor.

Among the home security strategies: put on your back porch the biggest dog bowl you can find and other indications (such as a "Beware of [silhouette of German Shepherd, etc]" sign) that inside your home is some big beast who would be delighted to have an intruder constitute their next meal.

You don't actually have to have a dog for fear of dogs to work in your favor.

Landscaping, lighting are among the many home protection strategies. RTBAV would be a great annual tradition, to stay fresh on security strategies and as a reminder of what steps we've not yet taken but should.

#188125 - 11/12/09 02:30 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: Mark_F]
7point82 Offline

Registered: 11/24/05
Posts: 478
Loc: Oklahoma
Unfortunately there just aren't many easy answers for these types of questions. The law concerning the application of force are highly variable from location to location. Some locations require your response adhere to a force continuum under all circumstances, some locations make provisions for using a level of force higher than that of your attacker under specific circumstances. Even if you respond with a level of force lower than that of your attacker you could still be in trouble in many places. A short visit with legal council in your area is the best way to sort out the legal angle.

Something else to consider; weapons that used to be referred to as "non lethal" are now referred to as "less lethal". An item that is less lethal to an adult male is going to have a much more dramatic effect on children or older adults. This means that options are going to be highly variable based upon your own living arrangements and concerns.

You're own personally level of fitness and the amount of time that you are willing and able to devote to training with any defensive tool or technique are going to have a tremendous influence on your list of options.

I sincerely hope this post doesn't sound like a dodge.
"There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother." -Theodore Roosevelt

#188128 - 11/12/09 04:15 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: JohnN]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: JohnN
Sorry to quote myself, but wanted to make sure people consider "what next" when employing non-lethal options:

I agree and John makes an important point. Before worrying about the legal aftermath of using some less-lethal (it may sound PC but it really is a more accurate description than "non-lethal") weapon, using it is not the end of the situation. A Taser only incapacitates for a set number of seconds and chemical sprays don't prevent an intruder from shooting blindly, stabbing, or grabbing someone.

I think it's out of print now, but I regularly re-read Sanford Strong's Strong on Defense to refresh my memory. I'm not someone with military, law enforcement, or extensive martial arts or street fighting experience, so I agree with his philosophy that the first, best strategy is to just get away and put distance between you and some threat as quickly as possible. When you're surprised by someone wanting to do something to you (i.e. rob, rape, torture, kidnap, etc.), you have the most control and the most ability to influence the outcome in those initial seconds, particularly if you're unarmed. (Of course, the same principal applies if you're armed, too)

So, if you're going to use a Taser or chemical spray, I think it's just as critical to think about how to either get everyone into a "safe room" or just get out of the house, perhaps using your family fire safety evacuation routes. Physically restraining or beating the crap out of the guy after spraying or tasering is another option, but I wouldn't recommend it. Just stay away.

Actually, in reality, deploying a less-lethal could be something done while trying to escape, too. The sequence doesn't have to be wait, spray, and then run. You just don't have the combination of range and immediate stopping power of a firearm to give you that luxury of waiting around. Try to bail first and if the bad guy tries to stop you, you zap or spray him to keep him occupied. Even if you have to run by the guy in your small apartment to get away. If possible, I wouldn't just hunker down in the bedroom with a less-lethal waiting for some intruder to find you in the bedroom (unless it really is a hardened "safe room") but just bail at the first chance, like out the bedroom window.

Well, everyone's situation is different so you need to think about what is best for your arrangement. For example, if it's not easy to escape from your bedroom (maybe it's too high or my physical condition doesn't allow it) and say you have a big can of bear spray, you could give the hallway a good dose of bear spray, close the bedroom door, and hope that this lingering cloud of stinging gas discourages anyone from coming that way. Hopefully that buys you time for the police to arrive. That's another potential use of a chemical spray that I have thought about.

Anyway, these are not necessarily ideas that will just magically come to mind in the heat of the moment. You should really think about them and mentally rehearse them before they're needed so that under stress, hopefully they do come to mind when needed.

And for anyone that hasn't read Strong on Defense and is wondering, Strong does realize that you can't always get away first. In which case, he tells you that you need mentally prepare yourself right now to do whatever it takes to fight and get away. Someone may choose a less-lethal option because they don't want to kill anyone, especially their own children, but Strong says that they need to face up to the reality that it may come down to you or him at some point. You could miss with your one Taser shot and he's on you, or you could hit someone with pepper spray but they're close enough to still grab onto you.

Be prepared to be shot or stabbed, and to bleed and be in pain. Be prepared to gouge out an eye or do a Mike Tyson (in trouble with the law again yesterday!) and bite off an ear. Some people react to a threat with rage and action, but many of us just shut down and that makes us a sitting duck. Which is why we need to mentally rehearse before something happens to be ready to react and act, in case we're one of the types that naturally wants to shut down in response to danger or pain.

#188133 - 11/12/09 05:33 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: Arney]
Tjin Offline

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1731
Weapons regardless of being lethal or less lethal("non-lethal" can be lethal too) should considered as a last resort.

Weapons are reactive and it requires somebody to operate it. Thus meaning you have to be at home, be awake or awoken by the intruder and know that a intruder has entered you home. Besides using a weapon second after waking is in not a safe practice either. Being still half dream and half awoke is a good way to shoot the wrong person.

Preparing for the worse and hope for the best is good, but donít forget all the other means you have to prevent something from happening first. We cannot to measures to stop a hurricane, but we can take measures to stop intruders from coming in our house at the first place. Prevention is better than repression.

So put some proper hardware on your doors and windows and get proper glass in your windows. Alarms are nice too. They will even work when you are not home, dreaming, etc. It can also safe you from legal actions, the bloody mess at home or shooting the wrong person.

A weapon is a nice backup, but donít use it as your primary home defense mean.

#188136 - 11/12/09 06:16 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: Tjin]
haertig Offline

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2018
Loc: Colorado
By all means, do your best to keep intruders out. I have good door locks (always used), motion triggered outside lights, and several big dogs who live inside. However, once an intruder manages to get inside (and there's no guarrantee that ANY precautions will 100% prevent that), I consider things at the "last resort" stage. I want strong protection at that time. Hitting the intruder, yourself, your wife, your kids and dogs with pepper spray collateral fog is not my idea of a good plan at this point. You will all be disoriented to some extent and stumbling around in the same small confined space (a room your house).

Your primary goal should of course be to keep intruders out. But once they're inside, you also need a decisive "last resort" defense. "Inside my home" = "last resort" for me.

#188137 - 11/12/09 06:16 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: NightHiker]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2326
Layered is good: good neighborhood, lights ( timers, motion dectors)
Strong doors/ locks, dogs, Lockable INTERIOR doors, non-land line phone, BIG flash light, noise makers, non-lethal methods...

#188138 - 11/12/09 06:33 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: TeacherRO]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC

For some of us, anti-gun laws make self-defense with guns all but impossible unless we're willing to break gun laws.

Some of us don't have spouses and children to worry about.

Other than a gun, what is a "decisive" defense?

#188145 - 11/12/09 07:41 PM Re: spin off: non-lethal options for home defense [Re: Dagny]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Dagny

Other than a gun, what is a "decisive" defense?

Decisive meaning lethal? Or are we talking about a positive resolution to the situation that is not lethal? The former is a deviation from the thread but the topic is so thought provoking we should explore it further. Other lethal defense could include but are not limited to blunt objects (ball bat, staff, etc), edged weapons (sword, knife, axe, etc), bow and arrow (or crossbow), spear, electrocution ... the list could go on. I fear I am missing the point of your question though. The latter is nearly as complex. Nearly everyone has touched on some successful resolution options in all the threads. From locking a door to keep the intruder at bay until police arrive, to using pepper spray to incapacitate the intruder until police arrive or you can escape (didn't you suggest bear spray in the other thread?), or escaping the situation altogether. As Nighthiker commented, anything that keeps you and yours safe. Perhaps combinations of the tactics here, maybe something like using the pepper sparay to incapacitate and keeping a blunt object handy in case he blindly grabs you. Many of the larger tactically oriented flashlights have a blunt force option built in. A friend of mine who is with our local fire department uses a 5 D-cell maglite for this very reason.
Uh ... does anyone have a match?

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