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View Full Version : Are Non-Lethal Means More Suitable For Most Situations?


45ACPShooter
April 19, 2011, 04:17 PM
In part because of all the legal repercussions in using a firearm and various other reasons I've begin thinking that for most situations especially when your outside your home some kind of nonlethal weapon (pepper spray, taser, kubotan, etc) would be preferable to a firearm. Granted it'd be best to have a nonlethal weapon and a firearm but I figure that in most cases a nonlethal weapon would be more suitable.

Obviously, sometimes nonlethal weapons can kill but I believe a court would be more understanding if you used say pepper spray and inadvertently killed someone attacking you who happened to have a respiratory condition vs you shot and killed them with a handgun. Another advantage that comes to mind regarding nonlethal weapons is that you don't have to worry about over-penetration or the possibility of a stray round hitting an innocent person.

Being that nonlethal means aren't always effective, I don't think that should be your sole defense but for the vast majority of the time I think that would be sufficient for most people. However, there are cases where bullets failed to stop an attacker immediately, so sometimes no self-defense weapon is full proof.

markj
April 19, 2011, 04:36 PM
Yes, a person dont have to kill someone just cause they can to stop a threat.

When I was a bouncer I couldnt hurt the person I was dealing with, no matter how much Iwanted to. So I learned how to make a person walk with me :) right out the door. Come back tomorrow after you sleep it off, hurt him? Heck no he is a customer and spends a lort of money he just had too much to drink.......

MLeake
April 19, 2011, 04:41 PM
Funny you mention that... we were just having a spirited discussion in another thread about whether one should have more than just a gun.

I don't personally carry spray. In some instances, I've been known to pick up the nearest suitable stick.

But I do have a pretty fair level of MA training to fall back on. If I lose my mobility, I might invest in spray, but until that point, I have other options already available to me.

The gun should not be the first resort in most cases.

FireForged
April 19, 2011, 04:44 PM
It depends on what exactly you are defending against. I for one, do not plan to use non-lethal force to defend against deadly force. Would I consider using OC against the possibility of getting punched in the mouth? sure. Would I consider using OC against a armed car jacker? Nope.

MLeake
April 19, 2011, 05:42 PM
Lesser options are for lesser and grey area threats, which probably outnumber actual threats to life and limb.

For life and limb threats, go ugly early.

KenpoTex
April 19, 2011, 07:33 PM
If a less-lethal (not non-lethal) tool is the appropriate choice based on the threat with which you are presented, then it is more suitable. If however, you're dealing with the threat of death or serious physical injury, it would not be more suitable.

Things like OC and Tasers are not for dealing with people who pose an imminent threat to your safety.

jhenry
April 19, 2011, 07:56 PM
A taser or OC is NOT for someone who poses an immediate threat? What's it for then, non-immediate threats? Of course it is for immediate threats. The question for the user is the level of the threat posed by the aggressor. Immediate threat of life and limb permit, but do not require, the level of response to go to deadly. Immediate threats not at that level do not, and could well be dealt with by non or less than lethal means.

KenpoTex
April 19, 2011, 08:45 PM
If you are threatened with death or serious injury ("life and limb" to use your phrase), it would be stupid to use a method that poses a very low probability of causing a rapid cessation of hostility (i.e. something that's not going to STOP them). If someone is trying to kill/seriously injure you, a face full of OC isn't going to do much. Could you opt to do that?...sure...but why would you choose something that has a very low probability of success?

OC is for dealing with belligerent/aggressive people who are encroaching on your space with malicious intent (but who have not yet reached the point where their words or actions justify a higher level of force). It can also be used as a momentary distraction so you can undertake some other action (deploying a better tool, closing the gap to strike, or getting a head start so you can have a better chance of escaping). If the situation has already gone to the point where they are actively attacking you, OC isn't going to keep you from getting your bell rung (or worse).

I'm not saying there's no place for it or that we should automatically jump to deadly force...I'm saying: choose the right tool for the job. In some cases that might be OC, in others it might be empty-hand techniques, and in others it may be deadly force. Just don't try to put "less-lethal" tools into a role they're not capable of fulfilling.

Note: I'm not even talking about tasers since I don't see much point in a private citizen carrying a "control device" that has so many limitations...most only have one shot, the range is limited, and they require good contact (i.e. penetration) with both probes which can be problematic if someone is wearing heavy clothing, is moving, or the probes spread too far to both make contact.

Single Six
April 19, 2011, 08:55 PM
I feel safe in saying that the majority of physical confrontations don't warrant deadly force. For a citizen on the street, retreat should always be the first option, if at all possible. OC spray is for finishing a non-armed confrontation that you did not start. Your gun is your last-resort means for saving yourself or a third party from imminent deadly force. As has already been stated, the gun is an equalizer when used against an opponent who is also armed with a deadly weapon. OC spray is for those other, more statistically common assaults that don't involve deadly weapons. Since we don't know what kind of criminal assault may be inflicted upon us [if we knew it was coming, we'd make sure to be someplace else], I say it's best to carry both OC and your firearm.

ClydeFrog
April 19, 2011, 11:40 PM
The post to me is more of a legal issue that a simple topic question.
You'd need to follow your own state's or juristdiction's legal standard for defense or protection & be within the laws re: weapons/ammunition/licenses-permits/etc.
As posted here & in other forums online, the use of a firearm is considered DEADLY or LETHAL force. Displaying or drawing a firearm may be different for sworn LE officers but unless you fall into that catagory, you must not use a gun unless you or someone near you meets the deadly force standards.
My state's Div of Licensing & AG's office is fairly clear about that point.
Clyde
ps: If you honestly do not feel you can shoot or kill another person, DO NOT carry a firearm!

JohnKSa
April 20, 2011, 12:01 AM
It depends on what we mean by "most situations". If by "most situations", we mean typical confrontations or arguments, then it's safe to say that most situations can be and should be resolved by a cool head, common sense and some very basic people skills. Even stuff like tasers and pepper spray won't be required to resolve most situations like that.

If by "most situations" we mean "armed confrontations with violent criminals" then non-lethal means are absolutely a very poor choice.

Ok, all that aside, here's a fact about armed self-defense that we often forget. Most self-defense scenarios where the defender has a firearm don't involve the attacker being shot, or even shot at. The deterrent value of a firearm is, far more often than not, enough to end the confrontation without bloodshed--typically without a shot being fired.

The point is that the threat of deadly force offers deterrent value that is unmatched by any non-lethal/less-lethal options.

Without trying to construct careful arguments or spending a lot of time researching the issue, it seems reasonable to assume that in most self-defense scenarios the threat of deadly force will be much more effective in ending a situation than any non-lethal/less-lethal option.

For what it's worth, in Texas, the display of a firearm to create the apprehension that it might be used if necessary is legal when force is legal to use. One does not need to meet the criteria for the legal use of deadly force in order to display a firearm--as long as force alone (as opposed to deadly force) is justified then displaying a firearm is also justified.

I have not researched other state laws, but I imagine that many of them have laws that are roughly similar in that respect.

What I'm getting around to is that a firearm (when displayed as opposed to being fired) may be the idea "non-lethal" method for deterring attack. It also has the considerable benefit of enabling the user to immediately switch to the use of deadly force if required.

ClydeFrog
April 20, 2011, 01:25 AM
I can understand & even agree with parts of the last post, but I'd add that for many armed citizens, it's a very dangerous game to draw a firearm & not be 100% ready to use it or to fire in a lethal force event.
Now some may say sworn LE officers draw their duty weapons often but not discharge them. That's very true, BUT they are on duty and are SWORN to uphold & enforce the law.
Police officers & state troopers etc have formal training, weapons and a entire agency or government to support them.
A private citizen in a critical incident may not have all of the same resources.
ClydeFrog

Eagle0711
April 20, 2011, 01:43 AM
I thought the same thing. I contacted the Sheriffs Office and it's illegal to carry a dangerous weapon concealed even if you have a CWL. Only the gun.

Outside carry may or may not be permitted. You would draw a lot of unwanted attention, and you'd lose the element of suprise.

So the gun it is.

BikerRN
April 20, 2011, 03:34 AM
It has been my expirience and training that most problems one confronts in day to day life will not meet the level required to justify deadly force.

The thing is, once lethal force is needed in defense of you and your's, nothing else will suffice in my opinion.

Biker

Southern Rebel
April 20, 2011, 07:46 AM
Maybe, but you would have to be able to get into the mind of the bad guy to understand just what it would take to change his mind - that is generally difficult for pyschologists, much less us. Maybe pepper spray would work, maybe a short preaching of the gospel of Jesus. But what if you are wrong?

Maybe you could save the life of the bad guy. Maybe you could lose your own. I have a better idea - rather than risking either, maybe the bad guy should save the lives of both of us and turn his life around while he still has one.

skifast
April 20, 2011, 04:44 PM
The practical problem I have with OC, tasers, etc is carrying them. My belt is already loaded down with a gun, an extra mag, a knife in my pocket and all the other items a guy carries. I don't have room for anything else.

chadstrickland
April 20, 2011, 05:07 PM
I personally wouldn't spray someone with pepper spray or taser someone unless there a friend and we are goofin off...I dnt mind getting into fights..and I dnt mind losing fights...( fist fights that is )...u have cross words with another guy..not girl..and start swinging..so be it..let the fight play out whoever wins wins..and who loses loses..that's the end of it...I wouldn't shoot someone because they wanted to fight me...now saying that..if I had heart trouble or health issues then I wouldn't hesitate to draw and let it be known and then if he persisted I would shoot...but idk...pepper spray and tasers are for people with disabilities ..chicks and cops...if u ain't in one of those categories then start swinging...:)

JohnKSa
April 20, 2011, 10:24 PM
... I'd add that for many armed citizens, it's a very dangerous game to draw a firearm & not be 100% ready to use it or to fire in a lethal force event.I agree and I didn't intend to suggest any such thing. The "magic gun" syndrome can be very dangerous. Firearm owners should never consider their gun to be a magic talisman that will ward off danger if it's merely held up/displayed.

The way TX law is stated is actually very educational.

"...a threat to cause death or serious bodily injury by the production of a weapon or otherwise, as long as the actor's purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute the use of deadly force."

So by the time you're reasonably considering using pepper spray, tasers or other non/less-lethal options on an attacker, drawing a firearm is legal in some jurisdictions.

The law also suggests the proper mindset for drawing a firearm in this context. You're not drawing it thinking that you won't have to use it, you're drawing it specifically to create the APPREHENSION in your attacker that you "will use deadly force if necessary". Clearly if you don't have the mindset to follow up on that threat if it becomes unavoidable, you're better off leaving the firearm holstered and out of sight.

Obviously it's not appropriate in every confrontation, just as a taser or pepper spray wouldn't be appropriate in every confrontation, but that doesn't mean it should be dismissed. A firearm can be an excellent non/less-lethal means of ending a criminal attack when it is displayed rather than shot. And unlike other non/less-lethal options, it offers the defender the ability to instantly transition to deadly force if the attacker presses the attack....I dnt mind getting into fights..and I dnt mind losing fights...( fist fights that is )...u have cross words with another guy..not girl..and start swinging..You should be aware that not everyone thinks this way. You may feel that losing a fist fight is no big deal, but there are a lot of people out there who don't have any experience physically fighting with another adult and will find an encounter like that to be cause for tremendous alarm.

You should also be aware that the courts don't always view fist fights as harmless encounters. The first TX CHL shooting involved a CHL holder shooting an unarmed man who wanted to fight him and began hitting him with his fists while the CHL holder was seat-belted into his vehicle. The unarmed attacker was killed and the CHL holder was acquitted.

raimius
April 21, 2011, 08:20 AM
I personally wouldn't spray someone with pepper spray or taser someone unless there a friend and we are goofin off...I dnt mind getting into fights..and I dnt mind losing fights...( fist fights that is )...u have cross words with another guy..not girl..and start swinging..so be it..let the fight play out whoever wins wins..and who loses loses..that's the end of it...I wouldn't shoot someone because they wanted to fight me...now saying that..if I had heart trouble or health issues then I wouldn't hesitate to draw and let it be known and then if he persisted I would shoot...but idk...pepper spray and tasers are for people with disabilities ..chicks and cops...if u ain't in one of those categories then start swinging...
If you act that way, you won't have the legal ability to carry for very long.
I wouldn't recommend it anyway, since you would be introducing a gun to a fist fight (and you wouldn't necessarily be the one one using it).

Actually, just skip the fight altogether. Ending up in jail and losing your CCW isn't worth "winning" a scuffle over the local sports team.

Don H
April 21, 2011, 11:51 AM
I personally wouldn't spray someone with pepper spray or taser someone unless there a friend and we are goofin off...I dnt mind getting into fights..and I dnt mind losing fights...( fist fights that is )...u have cross words with another guy..not girl..and start swinging..so be it..let the fight play out whoever wins wins..and who loses loses..that's the end of it...I wouldn't shoot someone because they wanted to fight me...now saying that..if I had heart trouble or health issues then I wouldn't hesitate to draw and let it be known and then if he persisted I would shoot...but idk...pepper spray and tasers are for people with disabilities ..chicks and cops...if u ain't in one of those categories then start swinging...

What if the fight starts to go bad for you and you feel your life is in danger or you fear great bodily injury? If you pull your gun and shoot the other guy you might find yourself crossways with the law. A number of states have laws dealing with mutual combat and firearms. For example:
A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

A person is not justified in using force under the circumstances specified in Subsection (1) if the person:
(i) initially provokes the use of force against the person with the intent to use force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; (ii) is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
(iii) was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement, unless the person withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his intent to do so and, notwithstanding, the other person continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.

Amin Parker
April 21, 2011, 12:21 PM
It depends on the type of attack you are facing but my answer would be NO.

I would not respond to someone that is not a threat to my safety or the safety of my family and friends. I will keep my eye on him and be ready to react with lethal force but i will try and avoid it.

I will use the STOP at the top of my lungs along with a very very stern look, that gets their shorts soiled more often than not. If i use my weapons, knives or guns in a self defence situation, i am defending my life.

A criminal that attacks me should not expect to survive. The last thing he will see is my smoking T series.

Erik
April 21, 2011, 02:10 PM
"It has been my expirience and training that most problems one confronts in day to day life will not meet the level required to justify deadly force.

The thing is, once lethal force is needed in defense of you and your's, nothing else will suffice in my opinion." - Biker RN

This.

JollyRoger
April 22, 2011, 09:16 AM
IMHO anyone who carries a gun should also carry pepper spray. It's an easy call to use deadly force when you're coming up with scenarios in your head, but the real world usually bears little resemblance to such a black and white scenario. Plenty of assaults that can get you killed start off as unarmed incidents: strong arm robberies, road rage, etc. You get your head slammed into a car or the ground enough you're still going to die, but using a gun is not justified until way too late in the process.

The problem is that juries take a real dim view of an armed individual shooting an unarmed assailant. Recently in Memphis, TN there was an incident where a drunk guy and a woman got into an argument over parking spots. The woman went into a restaurant and got her husband, a CCW holder, and returned to find the drunk vandalizing their car. Things got heated and the husband pulled his gun. Drunk guy, who was bigger, advanced and dared him to shoot, which he did. Jury convicted, judge gave him 20+ years. It would never have even made the papers if the husband had a $15 can of spray and used it instead of the gun.

Pepper spray is cheap and effective. A lipstick size spray works well and can be carried easier than a spare mag. Martial arts, kubatons, canes & rolls of quarters all work better after an application of spray. And best of all, pepper spray is so ubiquitous that if you have to go before a jury, someone on that jury will carry it, or have a family member who does. Not so with knives, saps, or other devices that will put you in the "thug" category.

MLeake
April 22, 2011, 09:24 AM
JollyRoger, on the one hand I agree with your thought process.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of places that limit your concealed carry options to: a handgun (or multiple handguns, except in NM, where you can carry all you want but only one can be concealed).

In Florida, a permit holder can conceal spray, knives, kubotans, stun guns, ASPs, etc.

But a lot of states are much more restrictive.

People might look at you funny, OCing pepper spray - if you can carry it at all where you live.

Most places allow some length of knife, though - although some places limit that to 2", or a leatherman type.

And just about everywhere, a cane or walking stick is legal.

So, while knives may be thuggish, and both knives and sticks count as deadly weapons, they are often more legally available than LTL options.

One would think more states would allow carry of spray by permit-holders....

Yet another reason why, for those who are physically able, a bit of MA training can be useful. I can't always legally carry a weapon, but I always have my hands, feet, head (for butting purposes, as well as thinking), elbows, knees... I even have some idea of how to use sticks and knives.

Webleymkv
April 22, 2011, 05:00 PM
As I've stated here many times before, "non-lethal" or more properly "less lethal" weapons have very limited uses for private citizens and are not an adequate substitute for a lethal weapon.

As has been pointed out, just about any weapon effective enough to have a good chance of stopping an attack will also have the potential to be lethal under the right circumstances. Someone with a respiratory condition could easily die from a dose of pepper spray, someone with a heart or neurological condition could eaisly die from a tazer or stun gun, and just about anyone could be fairly easily killed by an impact weapon. It is for this reason that LEO typically gets specific training as to when such weapons are appropriate and how to use them effectively.

Effectiveness is another issue with "less lethal" weapons. There are three basic ways in which an attack can be stopped: cause enough psychological stress (fear, shame, guilt) to the attacker that he discontinues the attack, cause enough pain or discomfort that the attack is aborted, or impair or disable bodily functions of the attacker to the point that he can no longer continue his course of action. "Less lethal" weapons, by and large, rely on inflicting great deals of pain or discomfort and while that is effective for most people, not everyone experiences or reacts to pain the same way. A person in an altered state of mind and/or under the influence of certain chemicals may not be disuaded by pain and would thus require physical inability to discontinue their actions. The "less lethal" weapons that do physically disable the attacker (tazers, stun guns, impact weapons, and to a much lesser degree pepper spray) are limited to use at very short ranges and require unimpeded contact with the attacker in order to be effective.

Another issue with "less lethal" weapons is that they require just as intensive training, and in some ways more intensive, as lethal weapons in order to be used effectively. Impact weapons require one to come into physical contact with an aggressor so some sort of grappling training is necessary (as well as training in how to use the weapon without killing or seriously injuring someone). Stun guns also require physical contact so they also need grappling training. Tazers require both leads to contact the target in order to work so you need training as to how to effectively deploy the weapon to ensure contact. Pepper spray, being an airbore liquid or vapor, requires training to ensure that the attacker and not yourself or a bystander is the one who gets sprayed.

You also have escalation to think about. While the use of any weapon has the potential to escalate a situation, you can't escalate beyond lethal force. Remember, just because you don't see your attacker with a weapon, that does not mean that he doesn't have one. Seeing a weapon of any sort may cause your attacker to up the ante and bring a lethal weapon to bear. If you've already got a gun in your hand, you don't have to transition to something else in order to employ lethal force should it be necessary.

Also, I'm not so convinced that "less lethal" weapons are that much safer, legally, than lethal ones. Too many people, I think, want to look at themselves through the same lens as they do cops and thus think that every piece of equipment that a cop needs is also a necessity for themselves. What is often forgotten, I think, is that a cop is in a very different situation than a private citizen and has very different responsibilities and if justified to do very different things. A cop is given much more leeway as to when it is appropriate to use force to defend himself/herself or another person than I am. A cop is also generally justified in using force to detain someone while I am not.

Because of this, I can't think of very many situations in which I would be legally justified in using any weapon at all that I wouldn't be justified in bringing a deadly weapon to bear. In my experience, people are ususally very reluctant to pick a fight that they don't believe they can win. Usually, the person who starts the fight either believes himself to be physically bigger or stronger or believes that he has some other advantage (surprise, some sort of weapon, etc.) that will allow him to win. As such, there is very likely to be a disparity of force between you and your attacker and disparity of force greatly increases the chances that your life is in danger.

A beating or any sort of weapon is nothing to be taken lightly, you can easily die from either. Quite frakly, if you can't honestly say that you had reasonable fear that you were in danger of death or severe injury (the condition that must be met for lethal force to be justifiable in most states) then you most likely aren't justified in using any sort of weapon at all. Pepper spray or taze the creepy guy following you or the other driver screaming at you and you'll more than likely find yourself facing charges for assault and battery and possibly assault with a deadly weapon.

Finally, just because a weapon has the capacity to be lethal, that does not mean that it must be employed in such a way. As JohnKSa pointed out, a firearm (and I would also add a knife) can serve very well as a deterrent. Few people want to get shot and even fewer people want to get shot more than once. Also, a firearm can make for a very effective impact weapon if need be (I always thought the underlug of a revolver barrel looked like a particularly fearsome thing to get cracked upside the head with) and I think that the good old fashioned pistol whip is often underrated.

Basically, I think that while "less lethal" weapons do have a place and usefulness, I think it is much more limited than many people realize. I suppose that something like pepper spray or an ASP baton would be a good thing to have if you could not safely use a firearm or lived in a jurisdiction where you couldn't have a gun. Also, I can see pepper spray being particularly useful for dealing with animals (a dose of pepper spray would probably keep your neighbor's pit bull "scruffy" from biting you while at the same time PETA isn't likely to throw paint at you for it

Old Grump
April 23, 2011, 01:56 PM
Attitude counts for more than you can imagine. An armed man can usually talk his way out of trouble without letting the problem person know he is armed and it is attitude and calm quite confidence coupled with use of brain matter that generally makes the difference.

As always it depends on the situation. Some clown coming into the diner you are eating lunch at starts shooting up the place there is no reasoning with him. Some half drunk hot head at a fender bender may be on a tight hair trigger but you might be able to talk him down. Guns are always a last resort.

The threshold gets lower depending on the prospective victim. A 5' tall 90 pound woman meeting some low life in her living room at dark thirty in the morning can assume correctly that she is in danger and unless her name is Cynthia Rothrock she had better have something more lethal in her hands than a thesaurus and a can of hair spray.

nazshooter
May 2, 2011, 12:55 PM
Jollyroger: My reasoning is pretty much in line with yours. Some of the scariest scenarios I can think of are the ones that fall into the grey areas such as an attack by multiple UNarmed thugs. The legal consequences of relying on a "disparity of force" defense are probably worse than losing a fight when alone but with a wife or kids to defend....

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

Hook686
May 2, 2011, 07:42 PM
I think it depends upon ones abilities. I am a disabled old man. The agility, quickness and manipulation options really are not there. I figure I get one slim chance to get lucky if my life is in serious jeopardy.

lawnboy
May 3, 2011, 04:21 PM
This can be debated in a forum like this. And it should be. We're essentially practicing the thinking that we'll employ if confronted by a real world situation. This can't be bad.

But when someone grabs me from behind and tries to wrestle me to the ground in a dark parking lot at night I'll still execute a break away move, draw my weapon and give him 2 center mass unless he is actually running away. I won't wait to see if he is armed with a gun, knife or a field expedient weapon (or not armed at all). I'll not spend a fraction of a second thinking whether to use my fists, knife or gun. I'll use the gun.

That is the plan at least. My state doesn't require me to try to get away. I'm allowed to stand my ground. I've trained and practiced in tactical and static situations. I have a lawyer. I've "war gamed" scenarios.

What more can be done until the situation arises? If it ever does.

BeeJay
May 3, 2011, 04:52 PM
Citizen: "Judge it went like this:

I pulled out my OC spray and the bad guy laughed at me. So I sprayed him in the eye.

It just slowed him down so I tazered him. He fell down and screamed but then got up and scowled at me.

At that point, he took a step forward so I backed up. But then he went and made a comment about my Mother - so I shot him."

Judge: 'Case dismissed'.

Justice06RR
May 3, 2011, 08:31 PM
The problem with non-lethal methods like Pepper spray, baton, or tasers is their limited range and capacity/ability. With a Taser (not the one that shoots out) you need to be in direct contact with an assailant, which in most cases you really should be trying to get away from them. Pepper pray also has a limited range and can easily miss, or not work well if not aimed correctly. Baton, same thing.

They have their uses sure, but only if you can correctly use them in a high-stress situation. If my life or a loved one is on the line, a firearm is the best tool.

stephen426
May 3, 2011, 09:25 PM
When a lethal weapon is presented, then the answer is pretty clear cut. You obviously respond to lethal force with lethal force. I think the original poster is making the case for not "jumping the gun" (pun intended) for every altercation.

I think less lethal/non-lethal weapons are most useful for the grey areas. For example, a thug is threatening to assault you but has not produced a weapon. Maybe a suspicious looking person approaches you despite you telling them to back off. One should always avoid a fight, especially if armed. You have no way of knowing your aggressor's level of skill and whether or not he has backup nearby. Most people would be hard pressed to draw in either situation posted above, much less shoot someone. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe someone would be charged with assault for using a non-lethal/less-lethal weapon in a threatening situation.

I bought my wife a Taser because I feel she might hesitate before shooting someone in a threatening situation. The Taser is classified as non-lethal so I told her not to hesitate if threatened. There is very little likelihood that the Taser would cause death or permenant injury and very little chance of injuring a bystander. There is also very little risk of my wife being charged with a crime for using a Taser against someone since she is about 100 lbs. and 5'4". Unless her assailant is a fairy, there will be a disparity in force. I also got her pepper spray and have nagged her on numerous occasions to carry it in her hand when she is dark parking lots or other risky areas. Better to spray someone with pepper spray rather than lead if they have not clearly demonstrated they intend to attack you.