UPDATE 1/15/11 via SignOnSanDiego.com Jogger fends off attacker with pepper spray by Susan Shroder
As promised in the original post (below), I am submitting the other side of the argument. Pepper spray worked well for a jogger who was the apparent victim of an attempted kidnapping. Here’s Why welcomes your reactions.
UPDATE 4/16/10 via SDNN.com: John Albert Gardner III pleads guilty to King, Dubois murders
If you have not yet seen the faces of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, please take a moment to click the links and pay respects to these lovely young women whose bodies were discovered this past week in separate areas of North County San Diego.
There’s been a conflagration of public outrage since the arrest of John Albert Gardner III, a 30-year-old convicted sex offender, in connection with the rape and murder of Miss King. As of this posting date, Gardner remains a person of interest in the death of Amber Dubois, who disappeared on her way to school last February.
In the last few days, there have been increasing numbers of public Internet comments about arming women and children with Tasers and pepper spray to deter attackers. Take a look at this suspect and compare his size to that of the teenage girls in the accompanying photos, or to that of most women or children you may know.
Here’s Why is of the opinion that carrying pepper spray would not have warded off an attack by a guy this size. We are also checking with San Diego Police to find out what they recommend about personal weapons, but the SDPD is overwhelmed at the moment; we will update this post later with their response.
In the meantime, here’s why I personally won’t carry pepper spray, mace or a Taser (don’t mess with me, though; keep reading). Please bear in mind that this is an editorial based on my experience alone.
During my first round of aikido classes, I was the only female and my fellow trainees went very easy on me. One of the most valuable shocks to my system came during my second round, different school. After the second sensei pointed out that the guys were doing the girls no favors by reaching out and tapping us, or tweaking our shirtsleeves instead of holding us in a standard grip, I realized how powerful an attacker can be. About that time, the sensei set the following lessons.
If an attacker is powerful enough to come after you, he is probably powerful enough to disarm you.
What’s your state of mind before and during an attack? If you are walking serenely down a pathway, you are not prepared to use a weapon.
During an assault, especially if you have undergone an initial disabling punch, your weapon may be less than useful – more than likely it will be out of reach or confiscated.
I know from a subsequent experience that an attack happens horrifyingly swiftly. I was disoriented, and it would not sink in that the man who had been speaking to me a few moments before had followed me and tackled me from behind. Pepper spray? Hah – at that point it was 50/50 that I’d have sprayed myself instead. I will say this: Because he did not get that first punch in, my aikido training worked.*
In spite of my training, had he hit me hard, I would not have won that battle. It’s simply, terrifyingly true.
Here’s Why supports the idea of never letting this kind of monster out, and is dizzied by the idea that there has to be a High-Risk Offenders Map. That map should point to a special wing of a high-security prison and nowhere else.
But we are stuck with them. Do we need to give them an extra opportunity to arm themselves at our expense?
To reiterate the main concerns: Apart from not wanting to see 12-year-olds walking around, arms outstretched and ready to spray anyone who approaches them, here’s another thought. Doesn’t anyone remember school bullies? Ugh. Enough said about that. And I repeat, since adult attackers of kids are more likely to be bigger, and to be opportunists to boot, how much good is a weapon going to be?
That takes us back to the fact that any attacker has already planned five or six moves ahead of any victim. If your pepper spray is visible, it’s his. If it isn’t, it’s gone.
We will be posting a statement from the San Diego Police Department as soon as they can get to it and we strongly encourage our readers to comment below.
Please stick to the topic of whether it is a good idea to carry pepper spray etc. Rants on vigilantism and the “correct punishment” will not be published, as it is safe to say that we are all outraged.
* I refuse to accept the phrase, “You were lucky.” No, I was not lucky. That justifies something that should not have happened at all.