A Guide to Non-Lethal Weapons By Tracey Hawkins

If you decide to use a weapon, do your homework. It is important to know all of your choices so that you can make an informed decision when deciding whether or not to carry one. The most popular choice among women in non-lethal weapons is pepper spray. It is also recommended and carried by law enforcement officers. According to retired NYPD Lieutenant, Gary Gione, “OC is unlike tear gas in that it is effective in those even under the influence.” However, he warns that nothing is 100%.

Tear gas is illegal in places that pepper spray is not. The fact that tear gas is a pain-inducer means that it can escalate an attack if the perpetrator is under the influence. Pepper spray causes an involuntary reaction, it causes the eyes to slam shut and water, the mucous membranes to swell and coughing. The effects last 30-40 minutes. Tear gas is indicated on spray containers as CN and CS. Pepper spray is indicated on containers as OC. There is confusion regarding Mace being illegal. Mace is a brand name, they make OC, pepper spray and CN/CS, tear gas and a combination product with both. Pepper spray is legal to possess and use for self-defense purposes. The website that I list for pepper spray sells only OC….

“I don’t care if you carry an ink pen, pepper spray, a Taser or a bazooka, you have to get the muscle memory down,” according to former police officer Steve Kardian, Defensive Tactics Instructor, “You must practice.”

Read the labels and educate yourself about what you are buying. You must test the weapon of choice and practice regularly. You have to be comfortable with your choice and know how to use it. Here are some selections. Research and make a decision that is best for you.

What to look for when purchasing a non-lethal weapon and where to buy:

Pepper Spray:

– Must be pure pepper spray, OC (not tear gas combination, CN and CS).

– Heat rating should be a minimum of 2 million SHU’s

– The percentage is not important, although 10% is average

– Works on dogs

– Check the expiration date on label, average 2-3 year shelf life

– Test the spray (outside) upon purchase and once a year

– Must be accessible and visible, the traditional case is easily recognized

– Check applicable laws in your State

– Shoots 6′-20’+

Con: Cannot legally go on board airplanes (may be able to be checked)


Jogger Pepper Spray

– Elastic band that straps to your hand




– Requires background check for felony convictions prior to activation

– Laser sight

– 1 live cartridge with 15′ range, 1 practice cartridge

– Training DVD and user manual

– Check applicable laws in your State

– Free unit replacement with police report of crime

$379.99 basic package/starter kit, $49.99 2 refill cartridges

Con: Expensive start-up and on-going cost (refills)

www.itasercom, California retailers

Stun Guns

– Small and lightweight

– Typically the sound and sight alone can frighten off an attacker

– Check applicable laws in your State

Con: You have to be close enough to touch the would-be perpetrator


Key Ring Personal Alarm

– Accessible, key ring

– Minimum 120 decibel output, Loud

– Flashlight

– Increases witness potential; people will look for the source of the sound

– Great for kids or frequent travelers

Con: Doesn’t physically stop someone




– In Case of Emergency

– Identification in case of emergencies

– Sports bracelet, card or dog tag style

– Stores personal, medical, allergy and emergency contact in a USB device accessed by hospitals and some EMTs

– Can be engraved with pertinent info for immediate viewing

Con: USB connection necessary to read most info


“I declare to you that a woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” Susan B. Anthony

Tracey Hawkins, aka, “Tracey, the Safety Lady”, is a nationally recognized safety expert. She regularly appears on television news broadcasts to offer safety tips and product education. She writes safety and security columns and blogs. She is also a professional speaker and national safety trainer . Follow her on Facebook: “Safety and Security Source”, Twitter: “TraceySafeTLady”and visit her website: www.safetyandsecuritysource.com . 816.372.0939.