But let’s face it, once you’ve grown bad-ass enough that you can take out a guy with your car keys and a rubber chew toy, you can pretty much use whatever happens to be laying around and don’t need to make a special purchase. – Rodion Medvedev in “The 13 Most Irresponsible Self Defense Gadgets Money Can Buy”
This, right here, is why I get upset when people peddle silly little keychain doodads as ideal self-defense tools ‘for women’. It’s not that the gadgets don’t work, or can’t be made to work. It’s that they require so much skill to use effectively that it amounts to criminal dishonesty to hand that type of tool to an untrained person and tell the untrained person that simply having this thing will keep them safe.
Having a tool that we don’t know how to effectively use might make us feel safer, but it won’t actually make us any safer than we are right now without it. This is key.
I love, love, LOVE the idea of having lots of self defense options, especially including lower levels of force. Every tool and technique, from every single part of the force spectrum, comes with benefits and drawbacks. Every one of them has things they require from their users and things their owners need to know about using them safely and effectively. No exceptions!
That’s why it’s so very important to be honest with ourselves, and with each other, when we suggest people arm themselves with any tool, deadly or not so deadly. We always need to how what this particular tool requires of the user — in terms of physical skill, commitment to act, personal awareness, safe handling, and so on. Those are important things to know!
The particular challenge with contact tools is that people may — without good training beforehand, almost certainly will — use them to remain engaged with the assailant in circumstances where remaining engaged would be the very worst possible response. In other words, it’s not just the tool itself that we need to know how to work. It’s everything surrounding its use: good awareness, smart tactics, legal and practical understanding, de-escalation and disengagement skills, and on and on. Selling people on the idea that we can shortcut that process is … problematic. No matter which tools we’re talking about. (And before you ask: yes, that absolutely includes firearms!)
If someone tries to sell you a defensive tool that they say doesn’t require any work or learning on your part, or a tool that can be used safely by you as the defender but that can never be used against you by the attacker — they are LYING. They may mean well, but they are not telling the truth. You might decide to buy the product, if it fits your goals and plans and commitment to act. But don’t buy that story, because it’s a lie.
The rule of thumb is this: the simpler and less potentially damaging the defensive tool is, the more work it takes to learn how to use it effectively. Put another way, force multipliers really only work well when there is already some force to multiply. Learning to generate that force takes work, and that’s before we even include all the surrounding skill sets and knowledge bases.
I recall one woman from one of my NRA classes who said – earnestly and with much annoyance – “I bought a gun so I wouldn’t get mugged, but I don’t understand how a mugger would know not to mug me.”
She believed, honestly, that the gun was a talisman against mugging, and that by paying the guy at the gun store, she had completed all the required steps to prevent any future attacks.
When I tried to (gently) explain that it didn’t work that way, and to effectively use the gun for defense she’d have to train, she said “Well, I’ll just get a stun gun instead.”