By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Most states in the union allow for the average citizen to get a concealed carry permit, so long as they meet legal requirements, and then carry a pistol in a concealed carry holster or something along those lines. However, a few states remain inimical to the Second Amendment rights of their citizens and – while technically having a permitting system at law – refuse all but the wealthy, privileged and politically connected the ability to arm themselves for their own defense outside the home.
Not only that, a number of these states don’t even want people to have the less-lethal alternatives.
One of the most popular less-lethal alternatives to firearms is electroshock weapons, which generally take two forms. First are those requiring direct contact, such as electroshock batons and the devices often referred to as “stun guns.” The principle is simple enough: you activate the electrical current in the onboard battery and hit the bad person with the current, shocking them.
Second are conducted electrical weapons – popularly called “Tasers” which shoot an electrode into the aggressor. The electrode is attached to a cable, which conducts electricity from an onboard battery into the electrode, shocking the person. Since the electrode is propelled by a charge of gunpowder in most of these devices, they are classified as firearms.
Taser is actually a brand name; the original device was named the “Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle” by inventor Jack Cover for a gun devised by Thomas Swift, protagonist of a teen sci-fi series of novels, that shoots bolts of electricity. The word “taser” was eventually applied to all such devices, sort of like how most people call extruded polystyrene foam “Styrofoam,” even though polystyrene foam is only Styrofoam if it’s made by DuPont, the company that invented it.
However, there’s been some thawing, as it were, regarding Tasers and stun guns. Washington, D.C., lifted its ban on these devices in May of this year. New Jersey’s stun gun ban lapsed less than a week prior to this writing, allowing citizens of the Garden State to carry them if over 18 and not otherwise prohibited.
The states of New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, though, still ban the devices. (Lawsuits are currently challenging the statutes in MA and NY.) A few municipalities and counties across the country also ban them, such as (you’d never guess) Chicago.
A Taser isn’t necessarily a non-lethal replacement for a firearm. While real-world use has found them effective, it has also found that it is not as effective on some people. Plenty of accounts exist of officers hitting suspects with a Taser, sometimes even multiple times, with little effect; either hand-to-hand techniques, the involvement of multiple officers or use of firearms had to be involved to stop the suspect after the failure of a Taser.
Another non-lethal alternative that has a track record of success is pepper spray. Some jurisdictions regulate capsaicin concentration (most defense sprays are less than 0.5 percent capsaicin, though bear spray goes up to 2 percent) liquid volume and may require a permit to carry. There are fewer regulations barring the carrying of pepper spray than Tasers and certainly to firearms.
Neither is better than a pistol in halting a violent attack, but the resistance of some jurisdictions to letting the citizens carry even a Taser or pepper spray is ludicrous. Thankfully, more citizens than at any other point in our history are now able to apply for and receive a permit to carry lawfully as state legislatures have been shown the light of reason.
One can only hope that in time, the last bastions of restrictive may-issue permit laws are replaced with sensible shall-issue or better yet, constitutional carry. National reciprocity would be welcome as well.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.