Some people (over 23 million) have chosen to take responsibility for their personal protection and for that of their loved ones by being legally armed in public. They know that very few problems are gun problems. They also know that “with great power comes great responsibility” (thank you Spiderman).
If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a violent individual but the level of violence offered does not rise to the level to justify deadly force what are your options? If you’ve taken the time to learn and develop empty handed skills that could be an option. The problem with going hands-on is the risk of injury to the involved parties is much higher and the outcome is not completely under your control.
Another consideration is age and or physical condition. There comes a time for most people where winning a physical confrontation with a much younger, stronger, faster assailant is not a reasonable expectation. In addition, wrestling around on the ground with an aggressive homeless guy may not be desirable, especially if maintaining control of a holstered gun is a concern.
Pepper spray provides a reasonable option between having no viable response and using deadly force. Encountering a violent criminal is less likely than running into the common garden variety asshole (GVA) who may threaten violence but not to the level that would justify the use of deadly force. Pepper spray may be an appropriate response where deadly force is not.
So, what is pepper spray? Also known as oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, it is made from the oily extract of pepper plants of the genus capsicum. OC spray can cause significant irritation to the eyes and mucus membranes rendering an assailant temporarily (30 to 45 minutes) unable to see. Deploying pepper spray can give you the opportunity to break contact and escape.
Pepper spray is widely available with few, if any, restrictions in most states. That being said, using pepper spray is considered use of force so there are some things to consider. In California:
- Pepper spray can only be used in self-defense
- No permit is required
- Devices must be aerosol only (no projectiles) and must contain 2.5 oz or less weight of aerosol spray
- Individuals must be 18 or older to purchase pepper spray (16 to 18 with parental permission)
- Use of pepper spray other than in self-defense is punishable by imprisonment up to 3 years or up to 1 year in county jail or a fine of up to $1000 or both imprisonment and fine
As long as the rules are understood and followed, pepper spray is a great addition to your EDC loadout. Pepper spray canisters are widely available, compact, and easy to carry and conceal. I carry POM brand pepper spray; Sabre also makes a nice product.
Pepper spray is not an appropriate response to a deadly force threat but is a viable option for threats of violence that do not rise to the level of deadly force. As always, the best plan is to avoid the threat situation entirely and avoidance is best achieved by practicing good situational awareness. For those in the San Diego area, I teach monthly pepper spray/situational awareness classes along with a CCW Next Steps class. Information for both classes can be found here and here.
Pepper spray is a great addition to your EDC tools. OC spray is inexpensive, easy to carry and conceal, readily available, and effective. Make pepper spray part of your EDC toolkit, practice good situational awareness, and be safe.
©2023 Joseph T Drammissi
This article and more of Joe’s work covering the Second Amendment and other topics can be found on Substack at https://getagrip.substack.com