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Nullo's avatar

Gun-Control jellies! What do you think of civilians carrying less-lethal weapons for their defense? (I suppose that anti-gun-control jellies can chime in, too.)

Asked by Nullo (21973points) May 30th, 2012

The TASER is one such device, as are chemical measures like mace and pepper spray. And you’ll see riot guns around, wielded by police who are trying to control riots. And there’s rubber bullets, that thing that makes the horrible noise, and that other thing with the microwave beam.
In the last few years, FN (heir to the fabled J. M. Browning) produced a glorified paintball gun, about as big as a full-sized pistol and used accordingly. The slugs supposedly hit like a fastball – powerful enough to kill if it hits you in the head, but might only crack a rib if shot at the torso. The idea is to get your attacker to start considering other ways to spend his time.
FN’s is the only one that I’ve read about; there may be other companies trying the same idea.
Assuming that we penalize reckless or non-defensive uses (using it on the guy who cuts you off on the freeway, for instance), would you be comfortable with civilians carrying these things on the streets?

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46 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

Fine with me. Just no killing machines on the street.

augustlan's avatar

I’d be ok with it (not the one that can kill you if it hits you in the head).

King_Pariah's avatar

Fine by me, but I’ll stick with knives, guns, and my lovely twin “pricklers”.

Trillian's avatar

Set phasers on STUN Mr. Spock.

WestRiverrat's avatar

You can do what you want to, but if it comes down to me having to use a weapon to defend myself, I am going to do my damnedest to make sure that only my side of the story gets told.

I have seen too many stories of homeowners having to pay huge settlements to the criminals they injured while protecting their property. According to my lawyer, strictly from a civil standpoint dead men cost less than live ones.

King_Pariah's avatar

@WestRiverrat that second part is sadly too damn true. The judicial system seems to grow increasingly disgusting with each passing month.

lillycoyote's avatar

Don’t forget the flare gun when considering what to include in your arsenal. One of those can really pack a wallop at close range. Though check the laws in your area first, before you decide to start carrying a loaded flare gun or flare pistol.

Nullo's avatar

@WestRiverrat Good point.
@lillycoyote As entertaining as the prospect is, I’m pretty sure that shooting someone with a flare gun is an automatic felony. I’ll have to poke around.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Nullo LOL. I just don’t know. Self defense is self defense. That is why I added the disclaimer, suggesting that people check the laws in in their area regarding the use of flare guns. :-) Though people should also check the laws in their area regarding the other “non-lethal” weapons you mentioned to. Tasers, for example, not legal everywhere and it sometimes depends on the strength. And tasers are not entirely non-lethal.

Edit: I just realized you actually said “less lethal;” not “non-lethal.” Still, anytime someone uses lethal force there is an investigation, questions to be asked, local law taken into account.

jerv's avatar

Many of the “less-than-lethal” alternatives are worse than guns. FOr instance, you may think a tear gas grenade would be a good way to control a crowd, but anybody who followed the Occupy movement knows what can happen when such a launcher is aimed at someone’s head.

Tasers can cause issues, especially if used against those with less-than-healthy hearts. And when they are over-used, nasty burns, permanent nervous system and/or muscular damage can happen, as well as possible broken bones from muscle contractions for some models.

Then there is the fact that more than a few people who get shot don’t feel the first 10–15 bullets that hit them, use pepper spray as breathe freshener, and otherwise are immune to anything less than a severed leg, I have my doubts that they would even work consistently.

However, I support mandatory training (or at least proficiency testing) for those that wish to own actual firearms, and harsh penalties for unwarranted use.

@WestRiverrat Some lawyers really do recommend backing over someone you hit in your car since death settlements are often cheaper than the alternative.

flutherother's avatar

A spike strip is useful for traffic offenses.

ucme's avatar

I favour a catapult, perfect for lobbing M&M’s onto unsuspecting victims heads.

lillycoyote's avatar

@ucme I favor the trebuchet because it is both a catapult-like launching weapon and a font. You can’t lose.

Though both catapults and trebuchets are difficult to carry on one’s person. Maybe o.k. for the castle/fortress but not incredibly useful as a weapon one might want to use for personal defense.

ucme's avatar

Evidence that contradicts that theory.

jrpowell's avatar

I just find it sad that people are scared.

Perhaps we should work on the poverty thing so people don’t need to rob us.

tom_g's avatar

@johnpowell – Exactly. I am always amazed when discussing these types of things with gun advocates how their perceived – or real – existence is one of constant fear for their life. They are only alive right now because of their ability to have fended off the latest attack.

Where are these people living? Call me naive (or spoiled), but life in the U.S. doesn’t seem to even call for a “what weapon should I be carrying” question. But if it did, I certainly would still shift the conversation from “which weapon” to one of these:
– “how to fix country so we don’t have to ask which weapon we should be carrying?”
– “is there someplace else I can live?”

JLeslie's avatar

@johnpowell I think you would have to work on the drug thing too.

@tom_g Generally in the south, and sprinkled around a few other places.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have no problem with non-lethal weapons being carried.

But the person who uses the weapon must be held liable for any injuries caused by using the weapon.

cookieman's avatar

@tom_g: I can’t agree with you more. I’ve lived in Boston my whole life and spent plenty of time in seedy neighborhoods around less-than-desirable folks and had very few issues. Am I lucky? Too scary looking to be messed with? Just street-smart enough? — I don’t know, but I can’t imagine living in fear to the point of needing a gun.

Anyway… I digress. To answer the question — Yes, I’m fine with mace, or pepper spray, or some such.

jerv's avatar

@tom_g One of the draws of Seattle was the low crime rate. We’ve already had more shootings this year that we did all of last year, and it isn’t even June. One of those shootings was right next door to me, and I live in a quiet, respectable part of town.

Times change.

tom_g's avatar

@jerv – That sucks. Do you think these shootings are affecting the average jervs out there? I mean, could this be gang-related activity or are these incidents happening to “civilians”?

@cprevite – My wife worked in Dorchester (Field’s Corner) years ago, and I would walk around there at night with no problem. Everyone seemed to think I should be wearing a bulletproof vest or something. Yet, I saw nothing but normal people going about their normal business.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g @jerv Violence can happen anywhere of course. Just one bad guy who walks into your neighborhood and does something crazy. But, I do find huge differnces in culture regarding gun across the coutry. Here in Memphis it is definitely what I call a gun culture. This is the first city I have ever lived in that seem to have protecting themselves with a gun in their heads constantly. Not everyone, but a lot of people. When I lived in NY, MI, MD, FL guns were not ever in my mind or in conversation at all. Once in a blue moon I was around people who hunt, but hunting is competely different in my opinion, and so is carrying if you live in a rural area likely to encounter wild animals. In bars and other establishments there are signs stating firearms are not pernitted. I have never lived in a place that had signs like that because I don’t think anywhere else I have ever lived had problems with it. Or, maybe the laws here are loser for where you can bring a gun? I don’t know. Gun violence hereis very high.

My husband’s company’s here in their employee handbook states, your gun is not pernitted on company property. not a gun or a weapon, your gun. My husband was so struck by the wording.

Anyway, this gun culture I speak of, it is anywhere from being very matter of fact about feeling they need to protect themselves to being kind of worked up, almost seem excited about their guns and the possibility that if someone comes after them they can shoot to protect themselves. Everywhere else people I know would be horrified to have to use a gun and shoot someone.

cookieman's avatar

@tom_g: I hear ya. My wife has worked in Lawrence, Lowell, and Chelsea in social services, probation, and education. Never a problem she couldn’t handle without a gun.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@johnpowell there is a difference between being prepared and being scared. I seldom think about it unless I am asked a question similar to this one.

@JLeslie I would be horrified if I had to shoot someone, but I much prefer having the option to shoot back. Why leave the decision of who gets shot solely to the discretion of someone that has demonstrated a willingness to break the law?

wundayatta's avatar

Nope. No weapons. We don’t need them. We are worse off for having more weapons in society, whether they are lethal or non-lethal. I am really pretty shocked at this whole discussion. I can’t believe how many people are cool with non-lethal. We don’t need them. They don’t help. They don’t make us safer. Only getting rid of weapons makes us safer. Only making society safer makes us safer. Weapons turn us into people I hope no one wants to be. I absolutely hate the aggressive mindset!

wallabies's avatar

I’ll carry a light saber, thank you very much. Yes, next to my paintball gun that shoots chocolate ganache.

JLeslie's avatar

@WestRiverrat How often do you talk about guns with other people where you live? That is part of what is odd to me. I have never lived in a place where the topic comes up before living here. I don’t know if it is the politics or what?

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I was raised around guns, mostly for hunting, sometimes to protect yourself and/or your loved ones from predators. Bears cannot always be deterred. Also, what of predators that eat your livestock? Gun violence in NH is low, and concentrated mostly in the cities. Violent crime in general used to be comparably low in Seattle until recently.

@wundayatta Nice theory, but impossible. Rope, pipe, wrenches, and wedges of Parmesan cheese would all be illegal in your ideal world, as would plastic bags, vehicles, hands, feet, and a while list of other things.
If people want a weapon, they will improvise one if they have to. I am a machinist with knowledge of chemistry; I could make a gun and ammo if I needed to. Outlawing guns would make people with my skills and fewer scruples very rich.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv As I said in my first answer hunting is completely different, and carrying if someone lives in a place where it is likely to encounter wild animals is different to me to. If I am in a rural area with lions, tigers, and bears, it wouldn’t phase me in the least that most people own a gun and carry one.

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv But it does work. There are far fewer weapons around in England than there are here. They have machinists, too. Most guns are illegal to own there. I bet tasers and mace are also illegal there, but I don’t know for sure.

When your culture is against weapons, then people don’t have so many and the ones that do are outcasts. That’s what we need to do in the US. Everyone who owns a weapon that is purely for hurting or killing should be a pariah. We need to eliminate social acceptance of anti-social behavior like preparing yourself to fight for no reason. That is in my opinion, of course.

America is not a peace-loving society. It is a violent, revenge-hungry society and that shames me when I have to explain us to the rest of the world. It also makes our country far less safe and makes it harder to sell us to tourists. It’s a problem, and it gets all tied up in people’s notions of rights and entitlement, and it’s the wrong thing to be entitled to. Health care yes, Tasers, no!

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I know; I’m just pointing out my experiences, and they are that guns and violence don’t always go together.

@wundayatta We can’t eliminate the other anti-social behavior like all the hatred against homosexuals from elected officials, so what makes you think you can deprive me of my Thanksgiving dinner and endanger my friends livelihoods?

What you want isn’t a culture free of weapons though; what you want is a culture free of the desire to use weapons against each other, and no weapon laws will bring that about.
Just out of curiosity, how would you explain how I grew up in an area with less violent crime than places where guns are illegal?

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv That’s pretty easy. I’m guessing there weren’t a lot of people where you grew up. Or you grew up in England or Norway or someplace where people behave in a more civilized fashion than Americans do.

Also, it seems to me that fowling pieces can be used even in countries where most guns are banned. There seems to be an exception for people who use guns to hunt game. Hunters often seem to be much more knowledgeable about guns than people who have weapons that are used purely against people. Maybe they have more training. I don’t know.

King_Pariah's avatar

Before eliminating weapons, you’d have to eliminate other issues such as drugs. (restraining someone on PCP, shrooms, and coke with bare hands is not exactly the most efficient method and puts more people at risk than necessary).

wundayatta's avatar

@King_Pariah In England, handguns are illegal, and yet, some police have access to them. There is no reason we couldn’t employ the same system effectively here in the US. Well. Theoretically, we could do it. There is the tiny issue of culture, but…. details!

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie Unless we are at a NWTF or PF banquet they don’t come up much at all.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta New England. As in “the six states in the Northeastern corner of the United States”. But given the issues in other rural parts of the US, I have to agree that our country in general is fucked up in many ways, but I think we differ on the details of how.

You are correct that hunters generally have more firearms knowledge, but responsible drivers often know more about cars than your average schlub that somehow managed to get a license. The same argument could be made about most technology as well. There is definitely a link between responsible attitudes and knowledge.

King_Pariah's avatar

@wundayatta yeah, wait for the (corrupt and lazy) police to respond while people and property are brutalized, brilliant. I’ll stick with clubbing the side of the bastard’s knees with a crowbar which has about the same result as being shot in the knee but requires one to be much closer and at higher risk of getting injured (in the case of a few others as well as myself, a few concussions, several fractured and broken bones, a lot of bruises, and one ruptured kidney). If I had a gun at hand then, I would have used it.

JLeslie's avatar

So the question is what creates this gun culture? I generally think like @wundayatta that if guns are outlawed (again not hunting) and people who own them are seen as outcasts fewer people have guns period. Here in Memphis metro area I understand why people feel they need protection, so much crazy gun crime. If the bad people have guns I need one too. I think once everyone starts having a gun it is difficult to go backwards and take them out of people’s hands. But, if people don’t have them to begin with, making them basically illegal helps the culture never develop into this gun fighting, need to protect myself mentality. This is why people in communities where guns are very common cannot imagine not having guns, and those who never think to have a gun cannot understand the gun people. It is two different worlds. Two totally different perspectives. It is very difficult to convince one side to think like the other.

Here is a question I have to the people on this Q who own a gun for protection: if all criminals no longer had guns and violent crime was next to zero, would you still want to have your gun? I don’t think it is just for protection as in the criminals have a gun so I need one. I think most gun people love their guns. It is a way of life; a frame of mind.

King_Pariah's avatar

@JLeslie I also hunt, so yes, I would like to keep my rifle. But the hand guns I could do without.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I hunt with my handguns, so it wouldn’t change a thing for me.

King_Pariah's avatar

@WestRiverrat what the hell do you have, a Contender?

jerv's avatar

I think that if we made beatings/killings made on the basis of race, religion of sexual orientation illegal, Mexicans, Muslims, and Homosexuals would be completely safe in this country.

BTW, what is crime like in Washington D.C. where gun laws are highly restrictive? I’ve heard that heir murder rate has always been amongst the lowest in the nation and nobody ever gets shot there.


Seriously, I think that anybody smart/wise enough to have anything valid to contribute to this debate knows about Pandora’s Box. If you honestly believe that confiscating nail-clippers at the airport makes flying safer, or that enacting gun laws would work, then you probably also believe that anti-sodomy laws and other similar things that have happened in the South will eradicate homosexuality. But @JLeslie is correct that there is a huge gap between the gun supporters and the gun-haters.

I feel that I should point out that, despite my strong support for gun rights, I personally have never owned a firearm. Sure, I’ve had a few BB guns and an Airsoft pistol over the years, but I personally have never owned a real gun. So it’s not just gun-toting people that support the Right to Bear Arms; it’s also people that have enough common sense to realize where the real problem is, and how half-assed solutions often cause more problems than they solve.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I actually come down on the side of a person’s right to own a gun, I am not one of those people who thinks all guns should be outlawed. I do want reasonable laws for buying a gun. I know there will still be illegal sales, and ways around the law, but I still think the laws matter. Since the laws vary so much by state, we don’t really have a good test of what would happen if laws were really tightened up, because people cam just go to a neighboring state to buy a gun if their state makes it difficult. It is another reason statistics in specific municiplaities and states are not very valid. VA has liberal gun laws from what I remember, so that can help explain DC. Added in to the DC mess is poverty, drugs, and probably some other factors.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie How many cultures do we have in this country? What would happen if laws changed? That depends on where you are talking about. Seattle isn’t in Texas, and Vermont isn’t Tennessee. In fact, it’s safe to say that we have at least as much cultural diversity as the entirety of Western Europe, which is many different countries. And since what works in one place doesn’t always work in another, I see nothing good coming from trying to treat this nation as homogenous in any meaningful way. Especially not nowadays.

But I think that the big difference between gun rights supporters and anti-gun people is that people like you and I acknowledge that there is at least some truth to the old adage, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Nullo I’m not exactly sure where to place myself in your dichotomy as it seems to me there is a significant difference between opposition to gun control (which is often put forth as a tout court position these days) and support of the Second Amendment. I would consider myself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but I also support waiting periods and background checks (just as I support the decision that shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater is not protected speech). So perhaps you can call me a supporter of limited gun control.

In any case, I have no objection to the carrying of less-lethal weapons. The weapons mentioned in the OP are all fine with me, though I find it strange that gun-like/projectile weapons are brought up so often while other less-lethal weapons continue to be overlooked. In my own state of Virginia, for instance, it is legal to own and open carry virtually any weapon. It is also possible to get a concealed carry permit for any handgun. Yet we still cannot get concealed carry permits for things like nunchaku or knives. If you wish to carry such a thing, you have to make it plainly visible at all times (which is inconvenient, not to mention unnecessarily threatening).

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire I also favor certain restrictions like background checks. You can support the Second Amendment without being reckless about it.

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