Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Self-Defense: Pepper Spray

     This new series of posts is going to be about what I suggest you own, and use for self-defense as a New Yorker.  New Yorker's are a bit limited in defense options due to the strict laws we have.  These posts are meant to help keep you, and those you love protected in the most legal, realistic way possible, helping you ultimately decide what you will choose as your self-defense options.  I will be touching upon all aspects of self-defense from day-to-day personal defense and training, to long-term home defense.  I will also do my best to explain the safety, and responsibility issues you will face when owning an item that is intended to harm others.

     Pepper spray (also known by the brand name ‘Mace’) is a very effective item that helps you debilitate and escape from a potential attacker.  It does so by spraying an inflammatory agent affecting a person’s breathing, vision, and skin for anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, allowing you to make a hasty retreat.  The active ingredient in most pepper sprays is called Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).  The amount of OC that is in the product effects how potent the spray will be.  There are many producers of pepper spray on the market these days, most are pretty generic and will get the job done in most cases.

     Unfortunately for us in our bustling metropolis, we are limited in what kind of pepper spray we can legally carry, and how much OC it has in it.  We can legally carry, and buy online, pepper spray that is made to deter animals.  This type of pepper spray has a very little amount of OC, (or whatever active ingredient the EPA deems humane) and is not as potent so it will not harm the animal long-term.  This type of pepper spray can be all you need to neutralize an assailant, but leaves me a bit skeptical on its effectiveness against someone who is mentally ill or is on some type of drug (as most would-be attackers typically are.)  It also makes me wonder how long its debilitating effects will last.  "Mace" makes a dog pepper spray that I link below, and though the reviews are not great, it is a legal option.  The other spray "Halt", is what you see attached to most mail carrier's bags or belt.  You can carry bear spray in New York, but you will definitely run into problems with its size, as it will be hard to conceal.  Also, the size of the container actually makes it illegal to carry in Manhattan.  As a side note, if you are camping in the bush during bear season it is legal to carry a big can of bear spray in the state of New York, and probably not a bad idea to do so.

      A few more laws and restrictions that you should be aware of if you do decide to buy pepper spray for you or your loved ones self-defense are; 
  • You need to be 18 years or older to buy, and or use pepper spray.
  • You cannot have a history of felony convictions or assaults. 
  • You can only buy the spray at a gun dealer or an authorized pharmacy. 
  • You have to complete a form with your name, address, date of birth. 
  • You cannot transport the spray into another state. 
  • You can’t give your pepper spray to a minor (sorry young teenagers, no self-protection for you.)
     Another quick thing to mention is that it states in NY law that you should carry around the directions of use the spray came with.   Most companies place these instructions on the bottles, but to be on the safe side, also carry around any printed materials the spray came with in your purse or EDC system.

     As with anything potentially harmful to others, you need to do your homework on the proper use and safety precautions of pepper spray.  One of the most common problems with it is that people end up getting splashed (a foam based pepper spray alleviates that problem) or they breathe in the spray that they are using to debilitate an attacker causing the same debilitating affects to themselves.  As most situations will be different, here are some things to keep in mind when using the spray; 
  • Try and take a step or two back from the attacker. Best case scenario is to spray them from about two to three feet away.
  • When about to spray, do your best to remember to hold your breath. 
  • Do your best to shield your eyes (glasses would be helpful if you wear them.) 
  • Remember while trying to shield your eyes, to aim it at the assailants head and face. 
  • As pepper spray is a deterrent, when the attacker is subdued, run away to get help.
     Having done extensive research on different sprays and companies, I have found this product to be the best ‘legal’ option for us New Yorker’s.  It comes in a few different sizes, and is fairly easy to find, and buy.  The site for the above product also has some great info on pepper spray laws in NY, as well as a location finder for a dealer.  Here is a link to another site with tons of useful info as well.  Read over this page to explain the different applications of foams, foggers, and forced-cone type sprays.

     You can buy pepper spray for your out of town relatives (i.e. non-New York residents) from online stores like Amazon.  Maybe even buy two for them so you can have them ship you the extra one in a new box, or you can pick them up in person the next time you visit.  Not that I suggest that because it is totally illegal, and can get you arrested and fined if caught.  Also keep in mind that if you do use an illegal spray on a would-be attacker, you could face potential legal problems afterwards.  If you were to do something like that, then I might suggest the Cold Steel Inferno Pepper Spray I link from Amazon below, as it is a very effective spray.  But I know you would not do that, as you believe that our right to defend ourselves and our property were something our forefather’s put in The Constitution because they didn’t realize we would be protected by our impeccable police, and government.  Allowing us to ignorantly, I mean, blissfully let them take care of our personal safety, and security while we sit back and watch TV.



Gun Dealer License said...

This site is very informative. Thanks a lot..

Gun Dealer License

Patty Pepper Spray Lady said...

I love my pepper spray and carry it on my keychain always!

Donald Raggs said...

Pepper spray is a good life-saving self-defense tool, but it is very important to use it properly. Its users should learn how to correctly dispense the spray, so that they can defend themselves against potential attackers.