My friend Sean Sorrentino of An NC Gun Blog alerted me to interesting article on WNCN today about a “home party”-based business that focuses on non-lethal self-defense products… sort of an Amway with pepper spray:
Many women have received an invitation before to a home party for Mary Kay or Gourmet Chef, a place where hors d’oeuvres and drinks are served and good friends get together.
One company is using a similar approach, but what’s for sale won’t make you pretty and you can’t use any of the items to bake.
These products are all about protecting women from being victimized.
The company, Damsel In Defense, was started four years ago by two women in Idaho.
Now, the company’s 8,000 sales professionals all across the country are selling women non-lethal protection for themselves, their friends, and their families.
Fonda Baker is a team leader for Damsel in Defense in the Triangle and says the company wants to empower women.
“We give you weapons and we teach you how to use them,” Baker said.
Baker said her clients have plenty of reasons to join the party.
She said potential clients include “moms who are worried about kids at the bus stops, moms worried about kids going off to college, dads who are terrified about their daughters going on dates.”
The company’s items include pepper spray, flash lights, stun guns and self-defense key chains.
With 7 million volts, the stun gun is illegal to carry in some states. On http://www.stungunlaws.org/, you can see the states that restrict and partially restrict the weapons.
It is legal to purchase and carry stun guns in the state of North Carolina.
Yeah… we’ll get back to that last claim in a minute.
While we tend to focus primarily on the use of firearms at Bearing Arms, we recognize that there are other lethal, less-lethal, and non-lethal tools that people opt to use for personal defense for reasons both personal and practical.
Some people incorporate chemical sprays, tasers, impact and/or edged weapons in addition to firearms as part of a layered self-defense plan. Some people lack the will to consider using firearms for self-defense, or may not be legally allowed to have them for one reason or another. For these people, less-lethal and non-lethal options are certainly better than nothing at all.
That said, I find it a bit disconcerting that amateurs with no discernible self-defense training are marketing products more than skills, and that they may be convincing people to break the law because of their lack of training and legal grounding.
WNCN is completely obvious to the fact that carrying a concealed stun gun in North Carolina is in fact illegal.
SUBCHAPTER IX. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PUBLIC PEACE.
Offenses Against the Public Peace.
§ 14-269. Carrying concealed weapons.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person willfully and intentionally to carry concealed about his person any bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slung shot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razor, shurikin, stun gun, or other deadly weapon of like kind, except when the person is on the person’s own premises.
Under North Carolina law, carrying a concealed stun gun is a Class 2 misdemeanor, the same as illegally concealing any of the aforementioned deadly force weapons or an illegally concealed handgun.
I’ve sent an email to two Damsel in Defense NC reps (including Fonda Baker, mentioned in the article) asking them if they cover the legalities of carrying a stun gun in North Carolina.
We strongly applaud the founders of Damsel in Defense for reaching out and promoting self-defense to those who might not otherwise ever consider self-defense training of any kind. We hope, however, that they are properly training their sales staff so that they can correctly inform customers how to use their products in accordance to various state laws.
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It’s easy for “gun folk” to get snotty and turn their noses up at the “home party” approach to self-defense, but the fact that Damsel in Defense has gone from nothing to 8,000 reps nationwide in less than four years says that their ” Equipped, Empowered, and Educated” message is striking a chord with a massive untapped audience.
While it isn’t practical to do a “home party” approach to firearms training (I doubt condo boards and HOAs would approve), I have to think that friendly “home party” approach to groups of friends would be a great way to introduce the concepts of firearms to the uninformed in a supportive environment. Such an environment might be just what is needed to provide some people who are on the fence about home defense that support and encouragement they need to build the confidence to go to a range.
A group of 10-12 friends meets at a home with the now-common “product party” atmosphere, where the host has a friendly, knowledgeable instructor come in wearing everyday street clothes (not all “5.11’d up” in a tactical tuxedo) come in and give a light-hearted, even funny introduction to shooting in firearms… perhaps with the tone of how Tom McHale approaches all things shooting at My Gun Culture.
The instructor would be selling shooting as a fun activity to do with friends on the way to answering questions and concerns on the way to inviting the members of the group to come together for an introductory group session.
The goal would be a “gateway” session to encourage people to make that initial visit to the range with a group of friends and encourage the social aspects of shooting that are such a big part of Gun Culture 2.0.
Not every home party would be a success. Perhaps you’d be lucky to get a handful out of every other group to show up at the range for that introductory session, but if you did, and they liked it, the instructor might be pick up another ambassador and slightly difference word-of-mouth friend group to approach.
There would be a lot of work involved in this approach, and it won’t likely work for some of the more grizzled and prickly instructors out there… and that’s okay.
But it seems that there is large under-served market to be tapped, and people who could be reached.
For the right instructors, with the right approach, this might be a successful very success approach to building a loyal clientele.