Self-defense is one of the most emotive topics you can bring up in a discussion. Pretty much everyone has an opinion on what should and shouldn’t be allowed, which method or tools are better than others and under which circumstances etc. For this article we’ll assume that you’re familiar with the laws in your particular jurisdiction regarding what you can and can’t do – in some areas, openly carrying an assault rifle won’t bat an eyelid whereas in others, you need a license to practice certain martial arts and the only people carrying guns are the criminals.
Even if you do live in a jurisdiction in which you can carry an AR-15 openly as you walk down the street, you’ll likely find it to be impractical and cumbersome to take with you everywhere. While it might be an ideal weapon to have in the event of a terrorist attack or a zombie swarm, it could actually increase your chances of becoming a victim of crime. As your hands are occupied with the weapon, your focus is distracted from the rest of your person, meaning that you could easily be pickpocketed. Even more seriously, as the AR-15 is not suited to close quarters combat, you would be at a disadvantage if you were jumped, especially by more than one assailant. In such an event, you could very well have your own weapon turned against you.
Weapons such as semi-auto rifles are suitable for patrols in no-go areas, preferably as part of a unit and not alone. They are also suitable when out hiking in the event of surprising a grizzly bear. Hopefully you would not have to shoot the bear, but if you did, such a weapon would get the job done much more easily than, say a .22 pistol. A single shot at close range from a large handgun, such as the .500 S&W Magnum would also do the trick.
In most built-up areas, your best bet for stopping an attack is to carry a pistol. Concealed carry can be more dangerous than openly carrying. A would-be attacker might be put off by seeing your gun on your hip. But if the attacker cannot tell that you are armed, you may be forced to draw and shoot, at which point any number of things can happen. Don’t draw your weapon to make a threat – if you have to grab it, be prepared to use it. Not doing so, or drawing an unloaded gun puts your life at serious risk.
Aside from firearms, tasers, pepper spray and pepper guns are good alternatives for stopping an attacker without killing them. Tasers are cumbersome and difficult to use and should probably be left to law enforcement officers who need to make an arrest. Pepper guns work best at a range of 15 to 20 feet. It can be extremely difficult to get a good shot at a pursuer, so you may need to switch to the spray, which is designed for use close up. Spray directly into the eyes, nose and mouth and step to the side, maintaining your aim as you do so. This should stop most attackers, but if you continue to be attacked, fight aggressively, attacking the eyes, neck, groin and other sensitive areas until you can get free and run.
Traditional martial arts are of limited use in street attacks. It’s difficult to practice street fighting without actually doing it for real, but be aware that there are no rules – your attacker will use bottles, knives, rocks and fight dirty. So should you. If you are knocked to the floor, try to get up immediately.
If you are attacked, make as much noise as possible to draw attention and hopefully intervention on your side. This seems to be a particularly useful tactic for lone women who are pursued by a lone male. Having a rape alarm makes this easier, but remember to shout, too, as rape alarms are sometimes confused for car alarms. They’re not just for women, either.
A military grade flashlight, though slightly cumbersome, can disable an attacker in the dark. The light is so bright that their eyes will automatically close. This will stop the attack and give you’re the chance to get help or make your escape.
Finally, don’t keep your keys at the bottom of your bag. People do get attacked on their doorsteps, as this is a moment when many drop their guard. Have your keys ready as you approach your door. Even having an automatic garage door opener can help you here, just click when you approach the driveway and the door will be open when you get to it. If you have a shotgun in the garage, now is the time to fire off some cartridges.