There are pros and cons to all self-defence weapons. They can protect you, but they can also be dangerous to you and others. Some self-defence weapons are legal; others are not. This legality changes from person to person and place to place. A great deal of research and thought must go into the decisions to carry a self-defence weapon and which one to use.
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Guns are the most obvious self-defence weapons. There are many factors to consider before acquiring a gun. First, guns must be legally purchased. In most places it is against the law to carry a concealed handgun without a special permit. Even legally owned handguns must be used wisely. You cannot shoot anyone unless a life is in imminent danger. Any violation of any of these laws can land you in prison. There is also a significant risk of shooting someone accidentally. Carefully consider the risks of using a gun for self-defence.
Many people think carrying a knife will protect them. In reality, a knife is a poor self-defence weapon. Few people are trained in the proper use of a knife. Simply flashing one may intimidate some attackers, but others will be emboldened by an obvious lack of expertise. A knife can be taken away and used against you. The attacker can then claim self-defence, since you brought the knife to the fight. Only carry a knife for self-defence if you are trained to use it. Also be sure that your knife is legal. It is against the law to carry certain types of knives in certain areas. The length of a blade is also regulated.
A stick, club or baton is a relatively good self-defence weapon. It is portable, keeps you farther from an attacker and is not illegal to carry. Many objects can be used as self-defence batons, including heavy flashlights, umbrellas and walking canes. Telescoping batons are made to be portable and concealable. A kubotan is a short stick that can be attached to a key chain. Batons let you extend your reach and strike an attacker in a vulnerable point with a hard object. The knees are an especially good target for a baton since the attacker cannot block it with his arms.
Mace and pepper spray are commonly carried as self-defence weapons, but there are several problems with their use. An attacker must be sprayed in the eyes for the chemicals to be effective. This is not easy, especially if the attacker surprises you. Mace and pepper spray are only as good as your ability to use them. You must have the canister in your hand and be waiting for the attacker.
There are many martial arts weapons available for self-defence. Most of these weapons are illegal to carry in public. Some are illegal to own at all. Nunchaku, sai, tonfa, brass knuckles, shuriken and swords are effective self-defence weapons only if you have years of martial arts training. Even if you are an expert, you can't walk around the streets with any of them.