Issue 53

Home Security Checklist, Part 2

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Home Security Checklist, Part 2

In our last issue, we discussed preventative measures you can take to keep yourself safe.  In this issue, we'll discuss some of the defensive steps you can take in case you find yourself nose-to-nose with bad guys.


There are a number of options, all of which are generally restricted in some form or another.  It is of paramount importance for you to understand the laws regarding any self-defense tool you purchase. 

For instance, in California, pepper spray is legal, but it has size limitations.  In most states, expandable batons are legal, but they're illegal in California.  Use one to save your life, and YOU will be going to jail.

Pepper Spray - an excellent all-around defensive tool.  Causes involuntary closing of the assailant's eyes and makes breathing difficult.  Easily carried and concealed, and relatively inexpensive to purchase.  Able to stop multiple attackers, allowing you to escape.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Stun Guns - very effective tools, but require direct contact with the assailant.  The disable the attacker with an electrical charge (up to 1 million volts) that causes involuntary muscle seizures.  Easily carried and concealed, inexpensive, but only able to stop one attacker at a time.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Tasers - like stun guns, the attacker is disabled by an electrical charge.  The civilian models fire electrical probes up to 15 feet.  Both of the probes must make contact with the attacker to be effective.  In the event the probes miss their mark, the Taser can be quickly converted into a stun gun.  Expensive compared to stun guns or pepper spray.  Generally considered to be non-lethal.

Handguns - fires a projectile (the bullet) at a high rate of speed into the attacker, causing trauma to their internal organs.  Possession is highly restricted in most states, unless state-sponsored training is completed.  Very effective if used properly.  Able to stop multiple attackers.  Considered to be a lethal weapon.

Shotguns - the favored home-defense weapon by most experts.  Home defense models can be purchased for less than most handguns, and they are allowed in virtually all states.  Contrary to popular belief, shotguns must be aimed like any other weapon to be effective, but when "shot" is used (as opposed to slugs), the defender has a greater margin for error to ensure they stop the attacker.  Effective against multiple attackers.  Considered to be a lethal weapon.

Rifles - generally not recommended for home defense, as the risk of "over penetration" (the bullet hitting the attacker and still passing through walls behind him) is too great.  Like shotguns, they are generally allowed in virtually all states.  Effective against multiple attackers (less so for bolt-action rifles).  Considered to be a lethal weapon.


Once you have decided on the self-defense tools you wish to use, and which are legal in your jurisdiction, proper training is very important.  Simply owning a defensive tool is not enough - you need to know how to use it to its highest effectiveness.

Non-lethal weapons - there is very little training available for non-law enforcement individuals.  Individuals in Northern California are able to take our Defensive Sprays and Stunning Devices workshop at their place of business or meeting hall.

Lethal weapons - there is a great deal more training available for handguns, shotguns and rifles.  We offer the NRA certified FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation class on a regularly scheduled basis.

Additionally, for individuals interested in gaining some additional handgun self-defense skills, we offer our Practical Defensive Pistol courses.  Most geographic areas have at least one training center for these types of classes.

Many local shooting clubs have basic trap and skeet shooting courses for individuals to be able to learn how to properly use a shotgun.  Most of these skills are transferable to defensive situations.  The NRA also offers a number of shotgun courses around the country.  One note, though:  Home defense shotguns generally have a shorter barrel - 18 1/2 inches or so.  Be sure to get some practice to be able to see how your shot pattern changes with the shorter barrel.

As noted above, a rifle is not a great choice for a self-defense weapon, but the skills you learn can be transferred to pistol and shotgun shooting.  Rifle training is offered by the NRA, but I believe the best rifle training is offered by the Appleseed Project.  It is two days of practical training that is geared towards males and females of all ages. 

I truly cannot recommend this training highly enough.  Women of all ages, men under 21 or individuals in the military are all able to take the training at no cost (other than for ammunition).  The fees for all others is very reasonable (it was $70 for two days of training when I took the course in May of 2010 - see here).

Put together a plan.  The first choice is always avoidance.  The best place to be when disaster strikes is somewhere else.

Sadly, our world doesn't always allow us to avoid danger.  Obtaining the proper tools and training will go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

Next Issue:   Using A Holster

Basic Pistol Training - FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation
Advanced Skills Training - Practical Defensive Pistol
Private Lessons - Intermediate & Advanced Personal Pistol

Bison Risk Management Associates is a Northern California-based company providing Personal Safety and Emergency Preparedness training, workshops and consulting for individuals, businesses and organizations.

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[925] 658-4457
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