It’s sad to think that we have to consider arming or equipping ourselves to feel safe. The truth of the matter is, however, that violence can happen to anyone. A Personal Safety Device can help you avoid or escape a sudden attack. Should you carry one and, if so, what should you carry? Only you can decide.
The market is flooded with all kinds of gizmo’s and gadgets; guaranteed to ensure your safety and promising to instantly neutralize a violent assailant. Some are legit. The majority, unfortunately, are junk! Even good ones, if you don’t understand their proper use and limitations, can be a liability. How do you tell the difference?
If there is one thing I want to emphasize in this article, it’s this: if you are developing a realistic personal safety strategy, focus primarily on YOURSELF… not on a tool, toy or gadget. Your brain and your body are your most powerful personal safety “devices.” Your development in each of the “Seven Components of Self-Defense,” will have the greatest impact on your legitimate safety and sense of security.
If you are considering a Personal Safety Device, do your homework. Research what’s available and evaluate your options rigorously. Find one that you are comfortable with and suits your ability and personality. Easier said than done right? When evaluating the merits of a PSD, ask and answer the following questions…
1. Is it legal?
2. Will I carry it all the time?
3. Will it be immediately available when I need it?
4. Do I have legitimate confidence in my ability to use it?
5. Is it as effective as it has been held out to be?
6. Could it be taken away and used on me?
7. Am I physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to use it?
Let’s take a look at each question in greater detail:
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1. IS IT LEGAL?
Are you willing to run the risk of being arrested and criminally charged for being in possession of an illegal weapon on the off chance that someday you may need it to protect yourself? Before investing in a PSD, find out if it’s legal to possess and carry where you live. A phone call to the community services branch of your local police department should be able to provide you with this information.
2. WILL I CARRY IT ALL THE TIME?
My guess is that people seldom leave their homes thinking, “Gee, I think I’ll go out and fend off a robber, rapist or mugger today!” What happens to most PSD’s is that they are quickly forgotten about and find their way to the bottom of a purse, the glove box of your car, or the back of a kitchen drawer. They won’t do you much good there! Is the device you are considering something practical enough to carry with you all of the time, discretely, without looking or feeling paranoid? If not, don’t waste your money.
3. WILL IT BE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE WHEN I NEED IT?
Even if you do carry it all of the time, will you be able to draw and ready it in time to use in the event of a sudden attack? Again, if it’s in your pocket or purse when you need it, it won’t do you much good. Is the PSD something that you will have ready, preferably in hand, if and when you need it?
4. DO I HAVE LEGITIMATE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO USE IT?
Military and law enforcement research confirms that people who lack confidence in a technique or device will not resort to it in a stressful situation. Many people have been seriously hurt in violent encounters with a potential PSD in their hand. In the stress of the moment, they didn’t think to use it or doubted its’ ability to impact the situation. Perhaps they were afraid that it would only make matters worse. If you are thinking of carrying a PSD, are you prepared to learn how to use it and practice to become proficient with it?
5. IS IT AS EFFECTIVE AS IT HAS BEEN HELD OUT TO BE?
Over-inflated claims and quick-fix promises are the “cancer” of the self-defense business. Often, unscrupulous self-defense instructors and gadget salespeople exaggerate the benefits and capabilities of their systems and products.
Whenever you hear words like “guaranteed, quick, and easy” or claims that the product will subdue any and all assailants regardless of their size, strength or sobriety, it’s time to call, “bullshit!” Walk away, someone’s trying to rip you off!
Understand the psychological and physiological control principles associated with the PSD. In other words, how is it supposed to impact the assailant’s intent or behavior? What is the science behind the claims being made?
NOTHING works all of the time. Always acknowledge the limitations and potential failure of a PSD and have a back-up plan.
6. COULD IT BE TAKEN AWAY AND USED ON ME?
This is probably the most common concern about personal safety weapons, and it’s a valid one. Are you prepared to use the device aggressively on a predator to protect yourself? Are you knowledgeable and skillful enough to retain the device if he attempts to take it away from you? Never carry a Personal Safety Weapon with the intent to “bluff” your assailant. If you are not prepared to use it decisively, don’t carry it!
7. AM I PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY PREPARED TO USE IT?
Carrying a personal safety device without investing the time to become knowledgeable and proficient in its use is a big mistake. It’s as useful as a pair of boxing gloves to someone who can’t punch or a tennis racquet to someone who doesn’t have a clue how to play the game.
You must prepare physically by practicing the necessary skills and techniques associated with the device (if it requires such skills). You must prepare mentally by knowing when and how to use it and the situations that would make it’s use legal and appropriate. You must prepare emotionally by deepening your emotional and moral resolve to protect yourself.
Can you come up with any other questions yourself? Have I left you hanging by not taking you by the hand and recommending MY favorite personal safety devices? If you haven’t noticed by now, my predominant teaching angle is to promote responsibility and independent thinking in my students and readers. Don’t believe me, or anyone else, about what’s best for your safety until you test it out or think critically about it. You must become your own expert, make your own decisions and draw your own conclusions.
You should be asking yourself by now, “So what? How can I use this information?” Let me reiterate that I’m against the idea of carrying a PSD as a replacement for the phyiscal, mental and emotional development that self-defense training has to offer. I am not, however, against carrying a PSD as a supplement to a comprehensive personal safety strategy. There are some valid ones out there. In fact, I demonstrate and even sell them at my self-defense seminars.
I also believe in the merits of training yourself to recognize and use “weapons of opportunity” in the event of a violent encounter. A weapon of opportunity is a common, every-day object that can be converted into a weapon during an encounter.
If you are looking for, considering or evaluating a personal safety device, don’t do it blindly or impulsively. Do your homework and some soul searching. Will it serve your needs? Will it improve your ability to respond and your sense of security? Does it “fit” your lifestyle and personality? Only you can answer those questions.
If you are interested in specific reviews or recommendations about PSD’s in future newsletters, let me know and we can explore the issue in greater detail.
Take care, train smart and stay safe...
I may have created a limited perception what a PSD is. Keep in mind that PSD’s are not necessarily exotic or concealable weapons with the potential to inflict injury. In fact, many of the best one’s are no such thing.
If I had to select just one PSD to carry myself (which I do) or recommend to a loved one, guess what it would be… a CELL PHONE! I could go on for an entire newsletter trumpeting the powerful personal safety benefits of a cell phone and the ability to summon help that they provide.
If you can afford a cell phone, it’s one of the best personal safety investments you can make.”Self-defense gadgets don’t cut it. Not even guns work for most people because they can’t use them safely and effectively. The advantage of a survival mind-set over everything else is that it’s always with you and ready for immediate use. That’s crucial and lifesaving because when violence explodes the security of your world, there are no second chances and no time-outs to think it over and decide what to do.”
“Self-defense gadgets don’t cut it. Not even guns work for most people because they can’t use them safely and effectively. The advantage of a survival mind-set over everything else is that it’s always with you and ready for immediate use. That’s crucial and lifesaving because when violence explodes the security of your world, there are no second chances and no time-outs to think it over and decide what to do.”