Defend Thine Self: A Goth’s Guide to Self-Defense, Part 4 [ARTICLE]

The bow is an elegantly designed weapon.

The bow is an elegantly designed weapon.

While many improvised weapons are potentially lethal, they really aren’t designed to be weapons. (A table leg, a chair, a baseball bat, etc. were not built to be weapons.) Here, I want to talk about non-lethal weapons such as pepper sprays, T.A.S.E.R.s, and stun guns as well as more lethal weapons like sharp bladed objects (knives, swords, etc.). (Remember: These are to be used in defense only. Initiating an attack should never be an option.)


Non lethal weapons are weapons that can do damage, but are not designed to actually do devastating damage or kill the target. In most states, you don’t need to get a license or register these.

One such non-lethal defense option is pepper spray. Pepper spray is one of those weapons that are not meant to kill anyone, just make them feel intense pain or discomfort so they can’t concentrate on attacking you. Pepper spray comes in different forms. The most common type you find in stores is the mist-style (made by Mace, Sabre, and Wildfire) , which has a diffused spray (like you would see in Raid insect killer spray.)

This is an example of Mace pepper spray.

This is an example of Mace pepper spray.

This is effective, but you run the risk of falling victim to friendly fire by having it blown back on yourself. So, don’t spray this against the wind!

There are other forms of pepper sprays that are not as common, but are more unlikely to hit the wrong person or blow back on you. Gels are the most common of these, like Sabre Red MK-3 Crossfire and Wildfire Pepper Gel. These spray a directed gel (almost like silly string) and when it hits, it burns. When the target tries to wipe it from their face, it sticks and gets into the skin causing excruciating pain, which leaves you plenty of time to get away. Even if it is a thicker substance, it is still an extremely good idea not to spray this into the wind as it can still blow into your face, so be careful!

Mace, Sabre and Wildfire also make another style of pepper spray which will come out in a foam and stick to the assailant. Be careful not to get this on yourself! After looking at videos of people getting sprayed with it, it isn’t anything I want to experience for myself.

While foams and gels are safer for you, but they aren’t designed to get more than two or three people per can. Many of these companies make a fogger spray as well, which will cover a larger area in case you are attacked by a group of people. However, the downfall is, like the mist sprays, they are more susceptible to wind currents, so be careful of where the wind is blowing.

Getting away from chemicals, another non-lethal option is to use high powered LED flashlights to temporarily blind an attacker. The light level put out, by even smaller ones, is high and intense, which causes the retina of the attacker to shrink to a pinprick and, effectively, blinds them while there eyes try to adjust.

Tactical LED flashlight. (Note the ragged edge of the lighted end.)

Tactical LED flashlight. (Note the ragged edge of the lighted end.)

While smaller ones have an attachment for your key chain for easy carrying, ‘tactical’ designs are usually very bright (high lumen output) and include a ragged lip around the lighted portion to supposedly “break windows if you’re trapped in a car.” Yeah, right. Rather, once you blind someone, you clearly could use the ragged edge like a makeshift pike or knife. Many of the larger, non-pocket or keychain, tactical flashlights will have three levels:  bright, not as bright, and strobe. Strobe can really disorient your attacker.

Though these aren’t legal for civilian use everywhere, two very effective non-lethal self defense tools make use of electricity. These are the stun guns and the TASER.  A stun gun is a hand held device that is about the size and shape of an electric razor that delivers an electric current when physically applied to the target.

This is an example of a stun gun.

This is an example of a stun gun.

Though this is effective, you need to be up close and personal with the attacker to use it. With this much proximity, not only can the attacker grab the device from your hand, they can also grab your hand and have you use this on yourself. No matter how intimidating the sound of the stun gun is, there are those who will not be effected by the sound and will take the risk of rushing you.

The taser fires electrified barbs with connected wires to knock out people at a distance.

The taser fires electrified barbs with connected wires to knock out people at a distance.

A TASER is a gun that shoots wires that deliver an electric shock that will effectively stun most people at the receiving end. There are a few people who will be able to resist it, but they have to be extremely tough or on some sort of drug that isn’t legal.  T.A.S.E.R. stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle,” after literary science fiction character Thomas A. Swift that was the childhood hero of Jack Cover, the NASA researcher that founded the TASER Corporation. Many police and high level security people try to use these instead of their pistols because of its effectiveness and less-than-lethal capability. These guns are a one or two shot weapon, so they need to be used carefully and wisely. Once the wires have been shot, some TASERS can be used as a sort of stun gun with a feature called “Drive Stun” which is more of a pain compliance tool than a true stun gun.


Lethal weapons are weapons that have a greater potential to kill the target. I have split these weapons into three categories: Slashing, piercing, and blunt force.

Slashing Weapons

These are weapons with blades that are used in a swinging or slashing form of attack.

Here are some of them.

  • Knives. Used as tools in every day activities, these are used for self-defense to stab, cut, and slash. The options are almost endless from small pocket knives for utilities to fixed blade fighting knives like Kabar and Bowie.  (Just be aware of what legal restrictions are in your state based on blade length.)
  • Machetes. These are single bladed tools for cutting brush. However, the Friday the 13th movies have shown us how effective these can be as weapons.
  • Axes. While wood axes are very different from the battle axes of yesteryear, they are still effective and I would not want to be in one’s path as it’s being swung at me.
  • Swords. While you won’t find one in a normal shed, these are weapons that you can hide in plain sight as wall decorations and are definitely effective. In my opinion, it would be fun to be able to carry swords around again, but I am 99% positive that’s illegal in many parts of the United States unless you’re at a Renaissance Faire (though many of them don’t even allow you to carry them in as decorations).

Piercing Weapons

These are weapons used for attacking the target to puncture their body.

  • Swords, knives and daggers. Not only can you slash and cut, but stab.
  • Spears. Traditional versions are not be very practical in public, but you can make a spear out of almost any straight piece of wood, steel, or pipe.  For wood and PVC pipe, you can break it to make a stabbing end, while you may have to strap a knife or a shard of glass the end of lead pipe or aluminum broom handle with a shoe lace.
  • Arrows. While they’re most effective when shot from a bow (as seen below), arrows can make mini-spears or stabbing blades held in the hand, especially if they’re equipped with hunting tips.

Blunt Weapons

These weapons are not meant for breaking skin, but are intended to crush bones, and cause all sorts of internal injuries. Clubs are the most common form today. Anything from a heavy piece of wood to a baseball bat to an Irish shillelagh.  These are rather effective in breaking bones and cracking skulls.

Learning how to use a knife in self-defense may save your life (and training ahead of time will at least help prevent your attacker taking it away from you in a struggle), while learning how to use swords and bows and arrows can be very fun. I am currently learning archery and it is a lot of fun.

Explore what’s out there and see how you can incorporate some of these items in easy to access places to assist with your personal self defense.

Like I have written before, if you need to use the lethal weapons, there is a very good chance you will have to answer to the authorities for your actions. Use these only if you truly believe lives are in danger. 

Author: Kevin Letts

Kevin Letts is a Steampunk writer from upstate New York with his wife and is continually learning how to shoot and archery. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and enjoys using arrows or bullets to put little holes in pieces of paper with concentric circles on them.

Legal Notice: Kevin Letts is not a lawyer or a law enforcement officer so his articles are not advice that should be taken as fully legal. If you need to know the laws in your local area or state, consult a lawyer to understand what you are able to do. Each area has its own laws regarding self-defense.

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