Gun control supporters claim that you don’t actually need a gun for self-defense. They claim that pepper spray, mace, or even insect sprays are all you really need.

This (alleged) Huntsville, Alabama robber thought that he’d try that advice in his life of crime. His toe tag suggests that it didn’t work too well.

A man possibly involved in a robbery was killed after being shot by his robbery target, police said.

Officers responded to a call at 3:10 a.m. on Sunday at 2811 Turf Ave. N.W. and made contact with a man claiming to be a robbery victim, the report shows. The victim, told officers he gave an unknown man a ride from the Chevron at 2605 University Drive to Northwood Housing Project.

Once the victim stopped the vehicle to let the rider out, the man pulled out a can of mace and sprayed the driver in the face, the report shows. Then, fearing for his safety, the driver retrieved a handgun and shot once at the robber, the report shows.

The robber jumped out of the vehicle and feld on foot; meanwhile, the victim cleared the mace from his eyes, drove to a safer area and called police, the report shows.

Officers located the unidentified offender in the front yard of the listed address, and he was dead as a result of a gunshot wound.

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People who suggest that chemical sprays should be used for self-defense are asking you to stake your life on a temporary irritant that only affects most people, most of the time, and that works only if the person being sprayed decides to stop their aggression.

There are countless stories told in law enforcement circles of people who were drunk or on drugs walking right through a stream of pepper spray or mace to carry out physical attacks on officers, seemingly unaffected by the spray. Others only seemed to begin feeling the effects after a delayed reaction to have a delayed reaction.

Chemical sprays don’t keep aggressors from strangling, stabbing, or striking their victims, because they are only an irritant.

They do not cause lasting physical damage.

Are chemical sprays are better than being completely defenseless? I’d have to give an answer of a conditional “yes.” After all, Seattle Pacific University hero Jon Meis used pepper spray to help stop a university shooter while the gunman was attempting to reload his weapon. Meis, however, didn’t prevail because he had pepper spray. Meis prevailed because he was a gun owner and carried with him a defensive mindset that is more important than any tool.

The problem with pepper spray is that those who advocate its use and who carry it as their only or primary self-defense weapon tend to view it as something of a talisman. They seem to think that merely owning a chemical irritant somehow makes them safer. It doesn’t remotely provide them with a defensive mindset, and may instead create a more dangerous overconfidence of their actual ability to deal with a threat.

On more than one occasion in college I had tipsy female friends insist that they were fine to walk home alone from a bar through sketchy neighborhoods because of a battered, years-old tiny canister of pepper spray nearly lost among the other baubles on a keychain. The reality of the matter is that none of them had ever used pepper spray, didn’t know how to release the safety on them if they needed it, didn’t know if the spray was still viable. Most importantly, they ran through their lives with little to no situational awareness at all. Did I ever let one walk home alone? No.

In the real world where bad things happen to good people because bad people intend them to happen,  that “it can’t happen to me” mindset quickly gives way to a “it can’t be happening to me” paralysis that the aggressor is counting on to carry him to victory over you.

If you choose not to carry a weapon, that is your decision.

Carrying an irritant, and a false sense of confidence, can get you killed.