Guns and Self Protection

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I've been reading all the responses to the Million Mom March thread and it's gotten so long that I thought I'd start one with a slightly different twist.

I'm a gun owner and have been since I've been 17 years old. I'm also a volunteer reserve with our sheriff's department and have been one for 21 years. I've been trained with handguns, shotguns, and long rifles. We practice combat shooting under realistic conditions when you have a split second to decide if what you're seeing is a bad guy, does he present a threat requiring deadly force, and can you shoot him before he shoots you. I can tell you that I've shot many a mother and child target or innocent passerby target on the range because I made the wrong split second decision. I've been very lucky to never have to make this decision in real life and I hope my training will enable me to not only make the right decision but also not end up being the one dead if it ever comes to that. A lot of officers who are killed are ones who took that one split second longer to make the decision and paid with their lives.

My point here is that an ordinary citizen may believe he can make this type of life and death decision quickly enough to shoot the bad guy and, in some cases, they can. In most cases, though, the bad guy has nothing to lose and everything to gain if he shoots you first. He's not thinking of the moral consequences of shooting you - he only wants to make sure he doesn't get caught by leaving a witness behind.

My suggestion for personal protection is to carry pepper spray or OC, as it's called in law enforcement. I think it's legal in most states for citizens to carry without a permit and you can get ones that attach to your key ring. The best ones have a combination of pepper spray, tear gas, and a marking agent so the bad guy can be identified as the one you sprayed. Since you don't have to make a life or death decision, it's much more likely that you'll use it in time to prevent injury to yourself. We have to get sprayed as part of our training and believe me, it hurts. Whatever bad intentions you had before you were sprayed evaporates rapidly after you're sprayed.

Just my 2 cents on the issue.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000

Answers

Jim,

I lived on the road when I was 14 yrs. old. Female. I have stabed two men. I don't know if they lived or died. I'll never know. I ran away. I don't even know who they were. Just left them.

Practice is bullshit.

I am sorry to who ever loved them.

-- ownership (----@--.com), May 16, 2000.


Jim,

I'd disagree on the OC, as I have heard that people who are seriously under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not respond effectively to it. Perhaps you can comment on this? In any event, the armed criminal may *still* shoot at you whether you shoot him with pepper spray or a handgun.

It seems to me that the decision really is to *attempt* to defend yourself, to run, or to place yourself at your attacker's mercy. My first thought at seeing some armed guy in my house would be to RUN, but if your wife & kids were there? Do you bolt at the expense of their lives? No, you're probably stuck there, and if by fighting back you're going to get shot at anyway, why not use what's most likely to be effective?

Frank

-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), May 16, 2000.


Someone,

Have you been there?

I have....

-- ownership (----@--.com), May 16, 2000.


Frank,

There are times when OC is not as effective when someone is on PCP or other drugs but it still hurts. The good thing about OC is that there's an involuntary reflex to put your hands to your eyes and fall to the ground. Even if you've got the weapon in your hand and can fire, your aim is not too good at that point. I'm not a very big guy but I've managed to cuff some pretty hefty boys with no injury to myself or the suspect after a dose of OC. It also works good on dogs :^)

The main use of OC would be to protect yourself on the street. Once the suspect is disabled, you can escape. Someone in your house, especially if there are other occupants at risk, is another matter entirely. I'm lucky that I have no kids in the house but I still keep my service weapon in a gun cabinet because it's just not a very good weapon at close quarters in the dark. I do have a short barreled Remington 870 loaded with 00 buck that will be my weapon of choice if the need ever arises.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


Ownership,

It sounds like you had a very tough childhood. I hope things are better for you now.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.



Ownership,

You likely have some valuable insights that you could share with us, beyond "Practice is bullshit". If so, please share them. Obviously you were up real close and did what is normally done with a knife.

If more women were prepared to defend themselves, we'd have a lot fewer rapes. I used to know a short, stocky lady who jogged in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. One evening a rather large bad-guy jumped out of the bushes and grabbed her from behind, then dragged her back into the bushes. She got mad and bit him on the chest, ripping out a fairly good sized chunk of flesh. He let go and ran off screaming. The police got him later at a local hospital, but the DA didn't prosecute him seriously because he was under 18. But, I'll bet he thinks twice or even thrice before he does something like that again.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 16, 2000.


Jim, I understand your points and I will think about what you wrote. As far as I'm concerned, if someone breaks into my apartment (which has a door equipped with NY lock), they intend to cause me or my loved ones harm. I have had several attempted breakins and I will not hesitate one second to put an agressor down for good. From the technical side I would imagine pepper spray has much less of a range. Also, what would you do with the burglar / robber after you have sprayed him? Personal protection on the street is a different story. I agree that pepper spray is probably a good choice.

-- aqua (aqu@fin.a), May 16, 2000.

There was a story a few years back of a man who sprayed an intruder with mace/pepper spray in France or Italy, I can't remember which. The spray just pissed off the would-be attacker, and the intruder actaully tortured/raped this man's daughters and wife in front of him because he sprayed him with the mace/pepper spray. He later murdered the man's wife before he surrendered to police.

I don't think he would have done this if the homeowner would have "given" him a couple of JHP's to play with intstead of spraying him with mace/pepper spray.

After reading about stories like this, I will not hesitate to put down an intruder or obvious threat.

Growlin' at the TV...

The Dog

-- The Dog (dogdesert@hotmail.com), May 16, 2000.


This is outside of my field but

There are two types of pepper spray. The first is actually a modified type of teargas or CS. This was the first type put on the market. In many cases it was ineffective for people who were drunk or on drugs. This lead to the OC that Jim mentioned. There are various concentrations of OC. The most potent (that Ive seen) is 10% though there may be higher concentrations out there now. This type also works on dogs, as Jim said. I carry a small one with me when I jog. The older type did not in many cases. It also works (supposedly) on Grizzly bears and is sold to hikers in very large canisters for that use.

Note that while legal in most states (not sure about CA or NY) it isnt in Canada. And you cant carry it on a plane or pack it in you luggage.

-- The Engineer (spcengineer@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


Engineer:

That's a good point. The orginal brand name Mace was only CS, or tear gas and wasn't effective in some cases because it was dispersed as a vaporizing gas and had to be inhaled for full effect. I don't believe this formulation is even sold any longer because of these problems.

OC, Oleoresin Capsicum, is the same ingredient that makes that pepper sauce from Avery Island so hot. 10% is the normal concentration although some departments are now switching to 5.5% because it takes less time to detox the prisoner. For a civilian, I'd still recommend the 10% spray. There is also a new variety that sprays out as a foam and covers the face so wearing glasses is no defense. You can also buy the large size sprays (good for grizzlies, although I understand some of them are starting to like the pepper taste now) that has a spray range of 75 feet.

If you can't get OC locally, Galls is a police supply house that will sell to the public with prices ranging from $9 to $30 depending on size and type. Their number is 800-477-7766.

If every woman carried pepper spray there would be a lot less assaults. These types of crimials are basically cowards and hate pain. Just the sight of an OC cannister is enough to discourage a lot of them.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.



Dog and Aqua:

As I stated in another post, pepper spray is good defense in a situation where you can escape after the bad guy is disabled. An intruder in your home may not offer that opportunity. If someone breaks into my home while I'm here, I'll go for my shotgun before my pepper spray.

Still, don't let that statement make you think that pepper spray is not a good weapon for personal protection on the street. I'd sure rather see a lot of people on the street with pepper spray than guns.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


We have alarm systems on the houses around here. It's more expensive than a dog, but doesn't shed.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), May 16, 2000.

Actually, I'm not convinced the alarm systems are more expensive than the dogs. Then again, I had two male Dobermans when I had dogs. Between the heartworm pills, the food, the vet bills when they attacked each other, the gates put on the windows so they wouldn't jump through the glass and kill the mailman, the gates to separate the house so we could keep them from fighting, etc., I guess the alarm is cheaper.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), May 16, 2000.

Ownership,

No, I've had an drunken, unarmed idiot try and kick my butt (and lose), but never had a weapon pulled on me. Hopefully never will.

Jim,

From a legal standpoint, what do the Sheriff's say about a street situation where you are in fear for your life, is there a difference (if you believe you are seriously in mortal danger) between using OC and a revolver?

Frank

-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), May 16, 2000.


Anita,

Alarm systems are a good thing to have, especially if it's obvious you have one from the outside of the house. Crooks usually look for the easiest targets and anything that makes your place look difficult will help. I don't know about the price of an alarm system versus a dog but dogs are good things to have also - bad guys hate getting bit as much as they hate getting OC'd. Of course, dogs also have things like hair balls - or is that cats? I just have fish so my pet knowledge is sadly lacking :^)

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.



Frank,

If the guy has a weapon, you are justified in using deadly force, but before you do so you must try to retreat to establish the proper fear factor. Even if a guy brandishes a knife or a pipe, if he is not fairly close to you and advancing, you can't kill him without trying to retreat first. Of course if someone sticks a gun in your face, you don't have much chance to retreat, but if this happens, you likely can't outdraw him anyway.

Jim, I agree with you about the need to practice split-second decision making. I did some of it in my CCW class and it is difficult. I shot the guy holding the can of beer a couple of times, instead of saying "Hi Larry"! I'll jump at the chance to practice more of it in the future. They occasionally offer a course that us civilians can take down in Phoenix at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office range, which has a lot of neat pop-up stuff.

I also agree with Jim that something like pepper spray is a good first-line of defense. Get the HOTTEST type that you can. My police instructor said that it comes in different strengths and to get the most potent.

After you mace someone, it is important to run like hell. For ladies, be sure to scream and scream some more. It takes 4 or 5 screams for someone like me or Jim to realize that there is a problem, come running out the front door, and then try to locate where you are. Unless you are really out in some isolated place, someone like us will show up pronto!

Anita, what were you doing with 2 Male Dobermans? That sounds like an accident waiting for a place to happen! Seriously though, a dog is one of the best alarms and defenders you can have. Even a little yip-yip dog is fine. Burglers HATE them with a passion! And, if you have one of the bigger variety, it will likely take a chunk out of the bad guy if he insists upon coming in. I like airedales because they are gentle with kids and most of the rest of the time, but can get quite ferocious when necessary to protect you and your loved ones. Out here where I live, they use them to hunt mountain lions. The dogs are fearless and sometimes get hurt or killed keeping the lion at bay while the hunters are trying to catch up. The hounds won't engage the lion, but the airedales will.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 16, 2000.


"I can tell you that I've shot many a mother and child target or innocent passerby target on the range because I made the wrong split second decision."

more proof of your stupidity, there, JimBob!

-- No fan of (Cooke@this.place), May 16, 2000.


Frank:

Well, you've descended into a gray area here. I only know California law so everything I say should be taken with that in mind.

California Penal Codes 195 through 199 cover justifiable homicide by citizens. Section 198.5 makes it clear that, if someone breaks into your house while you are inside, there is a presumption of reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. You can plug the guy as long as he's still inside the residence and it's justifiable homicide. This doesn't apply to businesses though, only your home.

Fear on the streets is another manner. If you are in fear of your life or you are defending another person who you believe is about to be killed or seriously injured, the use of deadly force is justifiable. There are two provisos though and this is where most people get in trouble.

The first is a case of mutual combat. If you are in a fight with another person, or coming to aid of a person in a fight, you or he must have made good faith effort to decline further combat before the use of deadly force. This means running away, ceasing to resist, and the like. A lot of people claim self defense when they could have stopped the fight before deadly force was used.

The second and most problematical is that the bare fear of death or injury is not enough to justify deadly force. The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person, and the party killing must have acted under the influence of such fears alone. (P.C. 198) This means you have to convince a jury of your peers that, if they had been in the same situation, they would have done the same thing. You also can't be acting under passion at the time, like you were already pissed at the guy before he threatened you.

So, this still comes down to that split second decision I talked about earlier. Is this person a real threat? If I kill him, will I be able to convince a jury who wasn't there the level of fear that you felt was enough to use deadly force?

No easy answers, I'm afraid.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


No Fan,

You don't know what you are talking about. Try walking a little ways in someone else's shoes, before you criticize. Jim volunteers his time for public service and also puts himself at personal risk of harm when he serves as a Sheriff's Reserve Officer.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 16, 2000.


Jim,

I just moved from the Bay Area to Arizona a few months ago. My understanding is that even if a guy breaks into your home, you need to be careful and try not to shoot an unarmed person who you can't substantiate is threating your life. A women can get away with it much easier than a guy can. The bottom line is that a woman, especially with kids in the house can shoot an intruder whether or not he is armed and probably get off with no problem. Us men, however, had best make sure that he is armed and attempt to retreat first.

Even here in Arizona where the law generally favors the armed citizen, we have to be careful about shooting intruders. The mere fact that someone is in you house often isn't enough if you have an ambitious young DA who is trying to make a name for himself reviewing your case. The 21 foot distance factor usually works in our favor.

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 16, 2000.


That doen't mean he is any more than a stupid liberal. Spending time with him are you, flashie?

-- No fan of (Cooke@this.place), May 16, 2000.

Flash,

This may be one of the few times when California law is really clear.

This is directly from P.C. 198.5:

"Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred."

If someone breaks into your home, you can kill him on the spot as long as he enters forcibly and he's not a member of the family or someone who lives at the house. I've never heard of a case where the householder killed a person who broke in and was actually in the house that was ruled other than justifiable homicide.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


No Fan,

Are you related to Manny?

-- Lurker2 (lots@to.lurk.for), May 16, 2000.


No Fan:

I don't know what your beef is with me but I can assure you are the first person to accuse me of being a liberal.

-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), May 16, 2000.


I am SO Thankful my daily life is not consumed with my thoughts of personal skin protection. I am comforted in this skin life by the Police Cars, by their authority. I salute their profession, their skin, sacrifice. But reading all that fear and alertness above my post, only convinces me further, that my life is blessed (sans dollars) beyond measure. I do not live the same fear, they do, in human skin. Each, seems to have their own Lifes' Book. What a different story, for each human.

-- Blessed (inthis@form.com), May 16, 2000.

Huh???

-- Wonderin (about@it.all), May 16, 2000.

Jim & Flash,

Thx.

Frank

-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), May 16, 2000.


Bravo Jim! I prefer to protect myself by non-lethal force.

I used to be anti-gun, not so sure anymore. After what Hitler did with gun control in Germany, I feel we should be able to bear arms to defend ourselves from perhaps a tyrannical government or dictator. I believe that is what the second ammendment is all about. But I do see many "trigger happy" people around and on this and that forum. It's unnerving how eager they are to kill someone, almost daring someone to "come and get me".

I found a good website that I ordered pepper spray from. I ordered some things and they were shipped immediately, arrived within a few days. Sel f defense products They do have the 10% solution capsicum in a variety of discharging containers. I've even seen somewhere, a pepper spray pistol, though I'm not sure that it is legal in CA. It had a really good range.

I'm not positive, but I think in CA that max carrying is 2 oz. of pepper spray.

Speaking of dogs, my sis has an amusing sign on her front gate. It's a picture of a guard-dog and it reads:

"I can make it from the door to the gate in 3 seconds. How fast can YOU make it?"

-- cin (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2000.


oh heck darn that link wasn't too effective

Try This

-- cin (cin@cin.cin), May 17, 2000.


Cin,

But I do see many "trigger happy" people around and on this and that forum. It's unnerving how eager they are to kill someone, almost daring someone to "come and get me".

My guess is that most people in a forum like this may talk big, but few really want to harm someone. It's sort of a virtual reality puffing up your chest and "strutting your stuff". I've undoubtedly come across like that at times, and yet I'm probably the least likely person I know to ever shoot someone, unless they really need it!

I've actually heard a couple of anti-gun friends say "I wish I had a gun right now, I'd shoot so-and-so." My response is usually "that's the reason you don't." Maybe that's the real reason that they are anti-gun and want to deprive the rest of us from having guns. They don't trust themselves with one!

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 17, 2000.


Flash:

"Anita, what were you doing with 2 Male Dobermans? That sounds like an accident waiting for a place to happen!"

It's just another page in my upcoming "Color Me Stupid" coloring book, Flash. We started with a red and wanted another. We found a breeder with an over-sized black that we really liked. At the breeder, the males and females all lived in the typical hierarchy arrangement together. Ours never got over the contest for Alpha male. Later, another breeder told us that male Dobes would fight to the death for dominance.

The red [our first] was extremely affectionate to anyone he'd known before 6 months of age, trained in less than a week, etc. The black was always more aloof [even toward us] and took FOREVER to train. We also had a little mutt terrior. HE got along fine with both of them. He just rolled on his back and submitted.

I've oftentimes thought of getting a dog again. Then I remember all the work and responsibility, finding a place for them when vacation time rolled around, etc. After 3 dogs and 3 kids, I don't even want to water PLANTS. Color me selfish.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), May 17, 2000.


Anita: You stated you have an alarm system, did you see the 20-20 episode on home system alarms?

If it is a monitoring system, many times those monitoring dont even take the time to respond.

I worked in a home one time w/monitoring system, for dentists, I cleaned for them. I accidentally set off the alarm, the monitoring place didnt even call back to 'check' for at least 15 minutes, by that time the dentist gave me the 'code' to say when the monitoring system called to check.

I felt like telling the monitor "yes, this is the burglar, I am too busy to talk right now, I'm carrying out the tv" LOL.

--not against monitoring system, but I would only have one which is central station notifying police/fire, period.

I have a panic button beside my bed, I've pushed it a few times, loud horn, neighbors didnt even roll over....

Just FYI

-- consumer (shh@aol.com), May 17, 2000.


Consumer:

I didn't see 20/20, but we don't have the system monitored. The purpose is to alert us if something happens while we're at home, particularly while we're asleep at night. There's a sense of violation when one's home is burglarized while away, but it doesn't compare to the sense of violation that occurs when you KNOW you were asleep in another part of the house while your home is burglarized.

I have a question about the pepper spray stuff. Many years ago, I had a tear-gas gun. It looked like a Saturday Night Special. I carried it for YEARS and never had to use it. I learned that tear- gas has a shelf-life and that after several years, it looses its ability. Of course if I TESTED it, I'd exhaust it. How does Pepper Spray compare in this regard?

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), May 17, 2000.


Consumer,

Anita, I wouldn't call you selfish. I fully understand. After all that you deserve some peace and freedom. My most recent family dog had to be put to sleep recently and I miss him a lot, but am in no hurry to replace him for some of your same reasons. Somehow I always end up doing all the work and taking all the responsibility for the animals.

Consumer,

VERY Interesting stories! I wonder how common your experiences are? Do you live in a big city? Downtown or suburbs? I would always respond if I hear something that sounds like a problem, e.g. screaming, yelling, alarms, etc. I guess since over the years I have had several friends who are policemen, I learned that they would rather be called than not, if you suspect trouble.

I have a friend who has an small office building in downtown Las Vegas. One night someone broke in and started hauling stuff out. Sonitrol, the alarm company, detected the intrusion and called him. He called the L.V. Police and in no time at all there were 5 police cars surrounding the building. Needless to say, they got the creep.

I think Sonitrol is pretty expensive. One or two of the small, portable montion-detector alarms might be helpful in waking you and maybe scaring off a creep if he started to break in. I got a couple of them at the hardware store for about $25 each, and they seem to work fine. No match for a nosey, noisy dog, though!

-- Flash (flash@flash.hq), May 17, 2000.


You don't know how lucky you are to be liveing in a country were you can defend you selfs and your houses, in Britan we are not given such chances. Pepper spary, etc is illeagle, as is ASP's, battons, stun guns, etc. And dont even go into have a gun to protect you self, over here youy and just about get a double barreled shot-gun, with police permission, and that costs about 50 ($120), and evn then theirs no garentee that you'll get it.

-- Ben Springall (benspringall@hotmail.com), April 27, 2001.

Ben, I regret your circumstance. But the spindle tree ,will only bow, as long as its' will. Good Luck. More than one way.

-- My Story and I (am@sticking foo bar.com), May 02, 2001.

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