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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Tuesday August 31st, 2010 :: 02:02 p.m. EDT


Which self-defense weapons are legal to carry in Florida? See email for full story.

Often police officers are asked what type of self-defense weapons are legal to carry in the State of Florida. Today's safety tip is dedicated to informing you of the legalities of self-defense weapons.

The first and perhaps most common self-defense weapon is pepper spray. Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum") is a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and even temporary blindness. Florida law allows citizens to carry pepper spray either concealed or openly displayed with no special permit required. The only stipulation is the amount carried must be under 2 ounces. Pepper spray allows a person to protect themselves at a safe distance however its effectiveness is determined by how well the product hits their intended target (the attackers eyes and nose). As with any product its effects do not work on everyone however as a general rule this non-lethal product can provide a window of opportunity to escape the dangers of a criminal.

A second option is called an Electroshock weapon which uses technology to deliver a temporary high-voltage low-current electrical discharge to override the body's muscle-triggering mechanisms. Basically it temporarily paralyzes an attacker for a set time period allowing a victim to escape danger. There are two types of these weapons - a stun gun and Taser. A stun gun can be purchased for less money however forces a victim into close proximity to their attacker in order to deliver the electrical shock. A stun gun may be carried openly or concealed with no special permit required. The Taser is a little more restrictive as it can only be carried in a concealed manner however also does not require any special licensing. The advantage of a Taser is the ability to deliver an electrical charge from a safe distance through projectile darts. Florida law restricts the length of the darts to extend no more than 16 feet. Tasers can deploy a shock for a set time period allowing a victim a longer window of opportunity to escape without physically holding on to the device.

A third option and perhaps the most dangerous is a firearm. Firearms are the most restrictive type of weapon and require a concealed weapons permit involving special schooling and a thorough background check to receive approval. The decision to carry a firearm should not be entered into lightly. The biggest concern is an lack of experience and unfamiliarity with proper handling of firearms can lead to accidental discharges or the firearm ending up in the wrong hands including the attackers.

Another option to consider is a personal alarm which emits an extremely loud noise to attact attention and scare an attacker off. These devices generally are equipped with a bright flashing strobe light and can double as an alarm for windows/doors in your residence.

Also any item with a sharp point such as car keys can be used to fight off an attack.

The deployment of self-defense weaponary should be used as last resort to fight off a deadly attack. In most criminal confrontations the item being sought out is personal property which should always be willfully turned over as material items can be replaced and your life cannot! However if a criminal's intentions are to take you with them it's time to throw the rule book out the window and fight for your life. Self-defense weapons can aid a person in escaping safely from harms way.

Please keep in mind that the ownership of these type of devices come with great responsibility. Florida law mandates the safe keeping of these devices preventing unauthorized access especially to young children.

Have a safe day!

Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

Lt Darin Farber
COPS Section

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