SPECIAL REPORT: "Personal Protection (OTC)"

Lawton_Would you know what to do if someone came up behind you in a dark parking lot?  What would you do if someone tried forcing open your front door?  Would you know how to defend yourself?

More and more people are utilizing personal defense devices, they can be bought over-the-counter, to fend off attackers.  Places such as dark parking lots can be an ideal location for attackers to plan an assault.  It can even happen in your own home.

College students Clayton Wright and Rhyan McGuire are getting married this spring.  With different schedules, and a long commute to school, Clayton wants to be sure that his fiancée would be safe.  So, he gave her a unique gift - a collapsible baton.  He wants her to be protected.  "I know on the top layer that's not the most romantic anniversary gift," he says.  But, since I was traveling a lot, we weren't seeing each other very much."

Ryhan says at first she was surprised - to say the least.  "Um, I thought it was interesting.  I mean, I guess in a way it wasn't the most romantic gift," she says.  "But it was, I think, the thought that counted, and the fact that he was, you know, making sure that I would be safe wherever I went.  I thought that was nice."

Police and law enforcement related businesses say more and more people are purchasing personal safety devices such as pepper spray, stun guns, and mace.  These over-the-counter devices don't require their owners to carry a license.

Clayton first heard about the solid steel batons in a self-defense course he took at school.  "It condenses, it compacts - seemed like a pretty good thing," he says.  His instructor agrees.  Richard Lamonica trains students how to use the baton effectively to stop an attacker.  He says it keeps you at a safe distance while taking the assailant down.  "If you get hit with a baton, you're gonna know it, because it can break bone and it'll stop somebody," he says.  "Any weapon is good, as long as you know what you're doing."

Lawton Depot USA is just one of the places you can find the collapsible batons.  Assistant Manager Stephanie Fike says it's important to do whatever you can to defend yourself.  "They can buy our stun guns, pepper spray, collapsible batons - whatever they feel comfortable with on protecting themselves," she says.  "It's dangerous out there, especially for women, nowadays."

Some pepper spray can travel some distance to disable an attacker.  "There's maximum strength, which you know, 8-10 feet, can really sting you, and it's going to hurt - bring pain to where you actually drop to your knees," Fike says.  Some pepper sprays even will fit in your pocket.

They also sell stun guns - electroshock weapons designed to administer up to 5,000 volts into an assailant.  One drawback is the weapon's range - it only goes as far as an individuals arm.  "With a stun gun, you actually have to use it on someone," she says.

Lea Love's husband bought her a taser.  It's similar to a stun gun, but has a much wider range.  It shoots barbs up to 15-feet, and delivers 50,000 volts of electricity into an assailant.  Both weapons will disable an attacker without the likelihood of doing any permanent damage.  Lea says having the weapon empowers her.  "I don't have to worry about killing the bad guy, just immobilizing him until the cops get there."

Electroshock weapons are illegal to carry in some states, but not Oklahoma or Texas.  Detective Rick McCollister from the Lawton Police Department helps train the police force to use the weapons.  "In the state of Oklahoma, civilian model taser is legal for that person to own and possess, specifically for home, personal protection," he says.  He says it's a good thing to defend yourself, but you should know how to use the weapon.  "They don't do anyone any good without the proper training."

You also can find many self-defense products on the internet.  One company offers personal alarms to help keep you safe since even walking to your car can be dangerous.  According to the web site, one of their products - a keychain with a flashlight - emits a 120 decibel alarm to scare off would be attackers.  A doorstop alarm does the same thing.  It helps secure doors.  When someone attempts to force it open, it delivers the same loud siren, alerting neighbors and scaring off intruders.

The bottom line is that personal safety is worth it.  But, think carefully about what you purchase, and how you will use personal safety devices.  "You have to be comfortable with them," says Rhyan.  "There's many things to take into consideration and training is a high priority on those things."  She hasn't had to use her baton to defend herself.  But, she says she's glad she knows how.  "I didn't want to be one of those kind of girls that thought, 'Well, it'll never happen to me.'  And fortunately it hasn't.  But, I mean, it's better to be safe than sorry."

  • Pepper spray can usually be purchased for about $10 per can.
  • Collapsible batons can usually be purchased for about $25.
  • Stun guns can usually be purchased for between $20-$100
  • Tasers can cost usually be purchased for between $300-$400