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Answering customers' questions: "what can I use if I don't want a gun?" (Lethal Force) (Column)

One of the toughest sales you'll ever make is the customer who comes to your gun shop, but doesn't want to buy a gun. If you've been in the gun business for more than a few days, you've probably had to deal with a customer like this; they come in two varieties.

The first and most reasonable type is the customer who, whether due to legal or logistic concerns, may not always have quick access to their defensive firearm. They want something to protect themselves when they are lightly dressed, when they are concerned about children accessing their weapon, or, worst of all, when the law forbids them the ability to defend themselves.

The second and more difficult customer is the one who could never, ever, no matter how grave the danger, bring themselves to take the life of another human being. Not realizing how strong the will to survive becomes when starting at an attacker's weapon, this customer wants something that, somehow, will magically send an attacker away without causing any physical discomfort.

What options can you offer these customers? Which products will serve their purposes? Which will only serve to make a bad situation worse? The king of self-defense, Massad Ayoob, takes a closer look.

"I'd like something for those situations where I can't use a gun."

You know some of your customers are going to say that. The ones who came in to buy their first firearm and just couldn't handle the thought of defensive deadly force. Or, hell, your favorite customer who for years has been packin' the shooting iron he bought from you, but who knows that there are a whole lot of situations where pulling a gun just isn't warranted, yet where making a bad guy cooperative is a necessity.

There are different approaches to this goal. A lot of gun shops carry "ARS," or Aerosol Suspect Restraint. Without mentioning brand names, there are a whole lot of these devices that go back for decades that just flat don't do what they're supposed to do. Most have a base of "CN," or tear gas. A few have a chemical base of "CS," or choking gas.

The CS is up to 10 times stronger than the CN, but also takes considerably longer to take effect. Something that puts him on the ground gagging 20 seconds from now won't do the customer much good if the suspect has had 19 seconds to beat the living daylights out of him. Although the effect of CN is noticeably weaker, it does take effect immediately.

(I recall the guy who was hosed with this stuff and, with a hurt look on his face, said to the cops: "What? Do I stink? How come you're sprayin' me with deodorant?" Deodorant might have been a good idea, but in reality the spray was CN gas -- no effect.)

One popular brand of CN gas has a written warning inside for those who care to read the fine print. The consumer is alerted to the fact that this substance might not be effective on an individual under the influence of alcohol, psychosis, drugs, or state of rage. Well, who the hell else would your customer have reason to spray?

The Next Generation

Enter the new generation of ASRs, which in turn emerge from the alphabet soup as "OC" sprays. "OC" means oleoresin capsicum, and we're talking about the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. This product has proved equally effective on drunks, psychos, junkies, and loonies.

The OC sprays are extremely dependent upon their carrier substance. The two brands I can personally recommend are Punch and CapStun. I prefer the 5 percent to the 1 percent formulations, though even the 1 percent OC spray seems to be more effective on the street than the old CS and CN gasses.

Of course, incapacitating sprays -- like guns -- only work in the hands of those who know how to use them. If you hold regular seminars in your shop, consider hosting a training program -- you'll be doing yourself and your customers a favor.

The vast majority of competent trainers are cops (since most of the programs that certify instructors are open only to police) so call your local police academy and ask them to put you in touch with an Aerosol Suspect Restraint instructor. See if you can talk him or her into giving a course to your customers in your shop some afternoon.

If that doesn't work, there's another source. The American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers (ASLET) at (302) 645-4080 can put you in touch with the ASR instructors in your area.

Walk Softly & Carry A Little Stick

Another extremely useful device for dealing with people who need to be restrained but whose transgressions don't yet warrant gunfire -- or for situations where your customer needs something more than his or her hands but cannot be licensed to carry a gun due to the vagaries of local laws -- is the little plastic wand developed by Shihan Takayuki Kubota. Tak's original Kubotan is still available, and has been copied by many companies; in my opinion the only good or even improved copy of the Kubotan is the Persuader and Persuader II, developed by Monadnok Lifetime Products, the firm that made the original Kubotans for the Shihan.

Again, a call to your local police academy should get you a list of cops who can teach the Kubotan to your customers. Failing that, get in touch with Monadnock at 1-800-PR24-USA and ask for a list of qualified instructors in your area.

I've found that the Kubotan or Persuader can be taught effectively in four hours. Success stories among my graduates range from the tiny lady who broke her big rapist's fingers and drove him off, to three adult men who used the stick successfully against knife-wielding attackers when they had nothing else to resort to.

The device is unique in that, for a beginner, it provides training wheels, and for a Black Belt in Karate it gives a turbocharge to the techniques already mastered.

Why Not A Gun?

Here's the bottom line: If all of your customers were hunters, you wouldn't sell them only elephant guns, realizing that very few would actually face an elephant and most would need a gun to deal with something smaller.

Only a few of your gun shop customers will ever need to apply defensive deadly force. Much more likely is the scenario where they will need to physically restrain a violent person who, for some reason or another, they are not justified in shooting. They need something at a less-than-lethal-force level to augment their gun as much as your Safari Club customer needs an antelope rifle to augment his elephant gun.

If you are the person who gives your customers the confidence they need in a situation of this type, they'll be your loyal client forever. By providing a non-lethal avenue to keep both parties alive in a tense situation, where a gun, for whatever reason, is inappropriate, you probably won't come back in the next life as a cockroach.

It all works out.
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Article Details
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Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Accessories may be your main sale.
Next Article:Advice for the globe-trotting gun dealer.

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