Let's not get too excited about less-lethal guns here

Image by LovableNinja from Pixabay

Guns are the best form of self-defense. They can put down an attacker hard and quickly.

Yet a lot of people prefer less-lethal solutions for a variety of reasons. For many, there’s the fact that they can buy them easily and without worrying about various gun control laws.


That’s certainly fair.

Others just don’t want to risk taking a human life, which I can also get.

One less-lethal option that’s been showing up on my social media is the pepper-ball firing gun by Byrna. Mostly, I just shrugged. They’re not for me due to reasons I’ll get into in a bit, but I didn’t think much about them.

Then I came across a story celebrating the guns, and it kind of pissed me off.

Currently, there are over 440 million guns in circulation throughout the United States, and as the nation deals with a surge in gun violence every year there is an increasing need for non-lethal self-defense weapons.

Objection. Stipulates facts not in evidence.

Seriously, there is no “surge in gun violence every year.” There was a surge in 2020 after decades of gun violence decline, and we’re already seeing year-over-year declines from that spike. Starting off your piece with a  blatant falsehood doesn’t fill me with confidence regarding the rest of the piece.

According to Bryan Scott Ganz, President and CEO of Byrna Technologies, most gun owners hope they will never have to use their firearms in a potentially deadly situation. This is commonly referred to as trigger hesitancy, and most people don’t want to be put in a situation where they would have to take someone’s life or seriously injure them using a firearm.

Hoping you don’t have to be in that situation isn’t the same thing as trigger hesitancy.


Trigger hesitancy is being hesitant to pull the trigger in a situation where you’re justified to use lethal force. It’s real and it’s a potential problem, but it’s hardly the same thing as being a person who would prefer not to kill another human being.

After all, how many combat veterans out there are fully prepared to shoot if needed, have done so in the past, but would really rather not?

That’s not trigger hesitancy.

Not only would most gun owners find themselves experiencing trigger hesitancy in the event a firearm would be needed, but using deadly force comes at a very high cost. In many states throughout the country, proving self-defense when using a firearm can be a daunting challenge. People could potentially find themselves in jail and paying large legal fees trying to prove self-defense in the event they had to discharge their firearm.

This is accurate.

However, the writer neglects to mention there are many states where this is also less likely or that there are groups that have insurance to help shield people from the costs of acting in self-defense.

That’s how you know what you’re seeing isn’t journalism, it’s a sales pitch.

To combat the growing epidemic of gun violence and give people an alternative to using lethal force with a firearm, Ganz has developed the Byrna, a non-lethal self-defense weapon that shoots pepper projectiles. As a gun owner himself, Ganz created the Byrna when his youngest daughter was still in medical school working in hospitals. He says she would leave the hospitals late at night in some of the bad parts of Boston, and he wanted her to feel safe and have the ability to protect herself.

Ganz’s daughter didn’t want to carry a gun, so Ganz created the non-lethal Byrna for her. Since bringing the Byrna to market, Byrna Technologies has partnered with over 300 law enforcement agencies some of which are federal agencies.

Now, Ganz sees the Byrna as one of the solutions to the growing problem of firearm casualties in the United States. He says in most cases that result in a casualty from the use of a gun the situation could have been avoided and the use of lethal force was not actually necessary. Most situations such as a home invasion or a potential robbery can be deterred with use of the Byrna.


Now, understand that I have no issue with people choosing less-lethal weapons for their self-defense needs. I just think that they need to understand the reality of what that means, which this sales copy pretending to be an unbiased bit of reporting–the site claims it’s from an external contributor, but not that it’s a sponsored post. Still, it sure looks like one to me–neglects.

For one thing, less-lethal options are a lot easier for people to shrug off than a gunshot wound. This particular tool uses pepper balls (though there are versions for NY and California that don’t), but some people are able to shrug that kind of thing off and continue their attack. If this is all you have, you end up having something else: A big problem.

Another point is these aren’t non-lethal. They’re less lethal, which means that there are situations where their use can result in death. In that case, your use of a less-lethal weapon may not prevent some of those unpleasant circumstances outlined above, particularly in states without strong Stand Your Ground laws.

Further, I’m more than a little annoyed by the claim that the Byrna will reduce gun violence. Criminals won’t stop carrying firearms, for one thing.

For another, a bad guy shot with a pepper ball or what Byrna terms as “round kinetic” rounds is going to be put down until police arrive, which means many will get away and hurt the next person they encounter.


Look, I don’t mind less-lethal weapons. Some people are better off with them as a general rule. What I mind is pretending they’re the answer to our prayers, which is what I’m seeing here.

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