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4 Less-Than-Lethal But Effective Weapons For Home Defense

Image source: bernalwood

Image source: bernalwood

Being able to protect home and family is essential – but, believe it or not, there actually are laws restricting it.

The law varies from state to state, but in most states you are allowed to kill in self-defense, defense of others and defense of property. (If you don’t know what the law says, you’d better check.) But even in states where you are allowed to kill, the law has one huge caveat. That is, the courts have to agree with your actions, after the fact.

In other words, the courts have to agree that your life truly was at risk and you had to kill. The term that they use is “imminent danger.” That means that there was someone facing you, brandishing a weapon, who had stated their intention (by words or actions) to use that weapon on you. They don’t have to have a gun, especially if they are close, because guns aren’t the only weapons that can kill you.

But what if someone isn’t threatening to kill you — what then? Can you still kill them? The simple legal answer may be no; unless your life is in danger or the life of someone else is in danger, you can’t use lethal force. In those situations, you need to rely on other means of defending yourself. That’s why you need less-than-lethal weapons.

1. Tasers

By now, everyone is familiar with the taser. The high-voltage shock incapacitates people for a period of several minutes, overloading their nervous system, without causing any real damage. The problem is that most tasers are contact weapons, which means that you have to be close to contact range and manage to hit your adversary with the contacts of the taser. That takes a bit of stealth and deception to accomplish.

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Another option is the taser gun. These shoot a “bullet” that has two electrical probes, which are connected to the gun itself. Upon contact with the person, the electrical shock is administered to the individual, causing much the same effect as the handheld tasers. These have a range of 15 feet, which isn’t much, but it’s enough for use in most indoor scenarios.

2. Non-lethal Shotgun Shells

The shotgun has long been viewed as an excellent choice for home defense. It provides a lot of firepower, as well as being able to be used in a “point-and-shoot” mode of operation, rather than aiming accurately. A hit with a load of buckshot or a slug fired from a 12-gauge shotgun does a lot more damage than a pistol bullet can as well.

There are now a couple of different options for non-lethal shotgun shells. One of these is the beanbag round and another is rubber slugs. In both cases, the idea is to cause blunt trauma to the criminal; knocking them down and inflicting pain, rather than penetrating their bodies and doing more permanent harm. As such, they are an excellent choice for use in a situation where lethal force may be looked at as inappropriate by the courts.

No change has to be made to the shotgun in order to use these non-lethal shells. The overall size of the shell is identical to normal 12-gauge shotgun shells, making a change from one to the other extremely easy. You can even keep the shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot or slugs and quick-load a beanbag if it is needed. Keeping some of these shells in an on-the-gun shell holder ensures that this option is always available.

3. Sonic weapons

Sonic weapons fall somewhere between a novelty and an actual weapon. The idea was originally studied by the Navy for protecting vessels from pirates. The sounds produced by the weapon cause nausea and weakness, and can even cause attackers to turn tail in fear.

There are smaller sonic weapons available on the market. This wouldn’t be a hand-held weapon, so much as a weapon that is mounted in a home, ready to be used. As such, it would be ideal for protecting an entryway to a home. When turned on, the speakers produce a sound which is designed to incapacitate intruders.

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I can’t say that I’d count on a sonic weapon as my only option, but I do have one mounted above my entry door. In the case that my home comes under attack, the idea is that this will help to make the attackers change their minds, before I have to take more direct action.

4. Pepper guns

Pepper spray has been in use for years as a personal defense weapon, replacing teargas as being a safer option. However, like tasers, pepper spray requires being in close proximity to the assailant. The average pepper spray canister is only good for four to six feet, although there are some which will shoot as far as 15 feet.

Another pepper spray option is bear spray. This is nothing more than a more concentrated form of pepper spray, intended for use against bears. However, it will work as a self-defense spray against two-legged attackers as well. The major difference between bear spray and other pepper sprays, other than the greater concentration, is the greater range. Bear spray can shoot as much as 32 feet, depending on what kind you buy.

There are also new pepper pistols on the market. These shoot a pepper “bullet” rather than a lead one. Powered by Co2 cartridges, these pistols can fire as far as 50 feet. Upon impact, the bullet capsule breaks open, enveloping the intruder in a cloud of hot pepper. Like pepper spray, it clouds vision, impairs breathing and leaves them gasping for air.

What are your non-lethal preferences for self-defense? Leave your tips in the section below:

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21 comments

  1. My go to choice for non lethal weapon is wasp/hornet spray aimed at the face/eyes. Wouldn’t have to worry about blowback in the house!

    • Dianne,
      “blowback” from OC or pepper spray inside a home is NOT a “big deal” IF, you have spray that is a “stream” as opposed to a cone spray. Good pepper or OC spray from vendors like Sabre or Fox, work the vast majority of the time, and IF, you use “wasp spray” on any intruder, in most jurisdictions in this country YOU will indeed be arrested and charged with aggravated assault or your state’s equivalent.
      Stream OC/Pepper spray has little to no “blowback” if it is applied correctly. Those who advocate using “wasp spray” need to also advocate HOW to defend one’s self from the criminal and civil penalties that will indeed follow such a use. Assumptions are always a dangerous thing, and cultural/popular mythology, almost always creates far more problems than proper use of excellent readily available non-lethal weapons. Wasp spray will not be considered “non-lethal” by any jury, nor any judge in any state. However, as reasonable and prudent adults, we get to choose what we use, but we do NOT get to choose our consequences for those choices. We are responsible for our own salvation. Hope this helps a bit.

    • Actually, you could potentially end up in more trouble using this rather than pepper spray. Problem w/ wasp spray is that it can cause permanent blindness. A piss-ant prosecutor could push the premise that you intentionality caused a permanent disability. If you chose to use a defensive spray, you’re safer using one of the good brands – Fox, DPS come to mind.

  2. I had to use a Kimber pepperblaster on a guy a few months ago & while it did work it wasn’t instantaneously effective. I’m 60 years old, five foot ten & 170 lbs. The guy menacing me was probably in his 40s, 2 or 3 inches taller than me & much heavier. He was a total nutjob, he wanted to beat my **s over a traffic incident. We were standing about 6 or 7 feet apart & he invited me to take a swing at him. I replied “You’re the aggressor, you wanted this-you swing.” After a bit of hesitation he took a step towards me & I whipped up the pepperblaster & fired. I had lined up the front sight on his left eye & the lower bbl fired first, causing me to hit low. A dark blob about 3 inches wide appeared on his cheek just under his left eye. For a split second I thought it wasn’t going to work- He stared at me for a moment & said “You missed, **shole.” Then his face screwed up as he put his hands to his face & went to his knees, as he blubbered out “You didn’t have to do that-I’m callin’ the cops!” I actually felt sorry for the poor slob watching him trying to crawl back into his suv. I decided the best thing for me to do was get in my car & leave, which I did. It did work, but if he had had a weapon in his hand he would have had 2 or 3 seconds to use it on me before he became incapacitated. Food for thought.

    • Thanks for sharing! I never considered that much of a delay with a near miss like that. I can only imagine hitting the chest and then waiting 15 seconds for it to kick in. By that time, the assailant could rub it in your face.

  3. Taser won’t work against heavy winter clothes.

  4. We need to UNDERSTAND, that there are NO “magic bullets” and NO non-lethal weapons that will work instantly and/or 100% of the time.

  5. In the last paragraph, you say that “… the simple answer is no…” regarding using lethal force unless one is in imminent danger. I would suggest that you don’t publish legal opinion so broadly. In many states that enacted Castle Doctrine laws, you can, in fact, use lethal force against an intruder in your occupied residence or vehicle. The accepted doctrine is that if an uninvited intruder is attempting to force their way into your residence or vehicle, you have the right to assume that they intend a level of violence justifying such force.
    FTR, I am a certified CWP instructor in SC and the laws regarding sell defence are a integral, mandatory portion of the course.

  6. Pardon me Richard but the Biblical view of self-defense is quite different than our Government’s.

    Now unless you feel you must obey without question your personal self appointed and feared non Biblical Magistrates, let’s take a look to the questions such as, Is it right to employ lethal force to protect the life of yourself and others? Is it right to take measures that might kill an attacker who is wrongfully threatening your life or the life of another?

    So first, Self-defense here is defined as “protecting oneself from injury at the hand of others.” Self-defense is not about taking vengeance. Self-defense is not about punishing criminals. Self-defense involves preserving one’s own health and life when it is threatened by the actions of others.

    So let us begin begin by first looking at the Biblical obligation to preserve life. The Bible clearly teaches that we must preserve life–our own lives and the lives of other people. 1 Corinthians 6:19f teaches that our bodies are not our own. Rather, our bodies belong to God. Our bodies are His property and so we are not permitted to treat or destroy them as we please.

    Not only are we to take care of our bodies and the life contained. We have an obligation to preserve the body and life of other people. Psalm 82:4 even cites an obligation to protect those who are in danger:

    Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

    Consider also Proverbs 24:11, which indicates we have a duty to preserve the lives of those who are harming themselves:

    Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

    Ezekiel 33 is a well-known passage:

    Ezekiel 33 “… 6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’

    Oops, that’s the Old Testament so today we’re not supposed to go there so, let’s try the New Testament.

    Luke 22:35-39 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” 36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 “For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” 38 So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” 39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.

    Here’s the context. Picture this. Jesus and his disciples have just had communion. They are about to go to a time of prayer in the garden. Jesus says these words to His disciples, and it’s as if they are saying, “Look what we have with us, Lord. Two guns!” Jesus responds, “It is enough.”

    Now let us take a look at the imagery of weapon use and skill at weapons use is often employed in Scripture, and it is often portrayed as a positive or desirable thing. The Lord’s might is something good, and it is often depicted using martial terms (Zec. 9:14, Psa. 7:13, 18:14, 21:12, 64:7, Hab. 3:11, Deu 32:42, 2 Sam 22:15). The Scriptures are a sword (Eph. 6:17; Heb 4:12). A sword comes out of the mouth of Christ (Rev. 1:16, 2:16, 19:15).

    Possession of weapons is never discouraged in Scripture. In fact, in 1Sam 13:19ff, it is negatively reported that no spears or swords were found in Israel because of the Philistines.

    And finally, the right perspective on this. Even though we have a qualified directive from Christ to possess personal weapons, it’s only for our personal defense, defense of our family and others.

    But you know this right? Oops, sorry again. You’re defending the State who has declared itself to be Yahweh i.e God.

  7. A fire extinguisher can used and you won’t have to evacuate the house or room like you would with pepper spray. It will blind and choke an attacker and then you can use the steel cylinder as an impact weapon.

  8. I like to keep two things by my bed, besides the handgun. The first one is my old reliable alumin baseball bat. The second is a one foot long or longer pice of rebarb. About 1/2 inch size of steel reinforment for concreat in bridges. One easy tap will give up some much pain they will get away from a person fast. It zapps the streangh and hurts really good. I got hit one time by a small pice of rebard in the elbow and this hurts good. I keep a mylair pice that looks just like a cat, the the ears are very sharp and can pierce the skin. I have a tactical flashlight too that will hurt when twisted. I got rid of my hand held phaser. I pice of wood shaped just like a pencile can be sharpened to use as a weapon. I get some hard one and sharpen it up about 2/4 of an inch. Those plastic bb guns spring launched can hurt really good too. I shot myself in the food and was dancing for about ten minutes. They litterally hurt. Just not to be for shooting anyone in the eyes. The bb’s wont break glass or skin, just inflict paine. I also have a blow gun yet, this is considered also, just as close as a gun. It is silent, and they have spears for it too. I have blunt plastic to shoot from it too that is not leathal. There is one thing to keep around, for protection, that will hural some rocks at people and this is call a sling. Once the end is realeased the rock can be aimed and launched pretty hard too. Can put acovado pits dried in the sling, or use them in a real sling shot too. Marbles are good to use as ammo and so is steel berrings, yet this again may be leathal too. i do get the whole point of defending me and my home and others, with out a handgun. To stop the danger without the deaths. I will continue to think about this. I have the ccw to carry a handgun, yet, we have to have a wittness confirming our story that we or someone we were protecting was in innament danger. We can still get a Cival Case where they go after money in the event of a wrong ful deat. The law is very touchey, and if we are in the wrong we too can go to jail, just like a criminal can too.

  9. I hold to the Castle Doctrine. In some cases , out in public, I agree with things like pepper spray, but the larger canisters of pepper spray such as something like Frontiersman Grizzly Bear that will spray out to 20 feet easily. It would be great for a small crowd of charging advancers. Though in my home, where the confines are tight, no thanks, I’ll defend my life with hot lead, especially if the invader has BROKEN and ENTERED my home. If it results in prison, then I’ll just be in prison, but even IF I got railroaded like that, even in prison I would work hard and fast on creating a shank for self-defense. This is how strongly a feel when it comes to keep myself from becoming a victim in a society that is growing more and more totalitarian. It reminds me of a verse in the bible- Isaiah 5:20 > Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    This is what I think about in cases where some burglar will have broken into a home late at night, ends up being shot by the home owner, loses a leg from amputation of a nasty gun shot, turns around and sues the resident. The court sides with the burglar , awards the burglar big money damages and then railroads the resident to prison for aggravated assault. The resident loses his or her home, is treated like a criminal and has their life destroyed. Nah, no thanks on using any less-lethal protection WITHIN my home. Victims are the ones that are getting more often looked upon as evil with sympathy going towards the criminal. It didn’t used to be this way. I’ll always believe in it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. I guess a lot of my views were developed growing up in the deep south where most people are armed to the teeth and hold similar views when it comes to self-defense within a person’s home.

    A person’s home is supposed to be a place of safety, of refuge. This goes all the way back to the Magna Carta of 1215. I do not think a person should even have to consider using less-than-lethal protection within their home. Yeah, I can see that something like an SKS for defending the home from an invader would be a bad choice when the round could easily go thru them and into a neighbor’s home or a moving car on the street, that’s why a 12 gauge shotgun makes an excellent weapon for home-defense. Save all the less-than-lethal devices for out in public.

  10. Another effective option that would give you some distance(easily 100ft) between you and the attacter is a semi/auto paintball gun. I use to play all the time and trust me, they hurt like HELL if you are not dressed for it. They shoot I believe 58 caliber rounds at 300ft per second or faster. Considering that a common hopper for the gun holds 200 rounds, you could put someone in alot of pain.

  11. I’m thinking a spray can of brake cleaner solvent from any auto parts store will take care of vision and breathing function at a fairly decent range……..

  12. I agree with Cool Hand Luke. In my house, you break in, you’ll leave in a body bag. That way, here in SC, there a few if any unintended consequences. My training is to shoot the threat until it is no longer a threat. If I’m shooting a pistol with 10 rounds, the intruder, if he or she is a threat in my judgement (armed in anyway), will get all 10 and leave in the body bag. Otherwise, they can leave with the county deputy after I’ve use zip ties on the wrists and ankles to subdue them. Their choice.

  13. Rock salt from a 12gage hurts like hell

  14. I have heard and seen a few co2 pistols w pepper gel I owned a prime guard shot gun that fired the shells and rrubber bullets am now looking for some thing similar but in a hand fun style for work a security if you know any company that makes any thing like this oz plz rplt

  15. I find that a .40 S&W jacketed hollow point is in most cases less-than-lethal when applied to the lower extremities (e.g.: kneecaps and below), if followed by medical attention of course.

  16. Might want to look into the new salt gun. Stands for safe alternitive kas opposed to real bullets. The gun shoots a co2 propelled capsule up to 200 ft that break on impact delevering a cloud of gas that temporairly blinds and incapacitates the suspect for 15 to 30 minutes. I may try one myself.

  17. jhc – kill or be killed. Stop dickin’ around with stupid ineffective toys. Because after you shoot your last pepper ball the cops ARE NOT going to show up 1 minute later…

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