People who recognize the need for personal defense may balk at the thought of packing a gun every day. You might consider other non-lethal options, particularly if you refuse to carry ‘cocked and loaded.’

Studies indicate stun guns will incapacitate your assailant 86 percent of the time. Manufacturers of electro-shock devices often claim an equivalent percentage. A big difference is that a stun gun must be applied directly from your hand whereas the Taser® — an electro-shock device — can be fired up to 21 feet away from the target.

A stun gun delivers somewhere between 80,000 and upwards of a million volts but only 14 watts, whereas an electric-shock device delivers about 50,000 volts with 18 watts of energy. As may be expected, there is debate on the effectiveness of various self-defense, non-lethal weaponry.

Most people would rather keep an assailant as far away as possible. Who wants a physical scuffle with an attacker? Yet, that begs the question: Is a electric-shock device really superior when compared to a gun? Some don’t realize that both electric-shock probes must penetrate the target to disable an attacker. If your aim is off, the electric-shock device will be ineffective. Stun guns work on the nervous system while electric-shock devices work on both the nervous and muscular systems. Neither weapon is foolproof, nor 100-percent effective.

What about pepper spray? The product causes tearing and pain to the eyes, face mouth and throat when the spray is inhaled. Some types of chemical repellents dispense a stream while others emit a fog. When sprayed directly into a person’s face, the spray causes extreme pain and temporary blindness.

You can expect to spend anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred for a non-lethal defensive weapon. Canisters of pepper spray generally sell for under $50 and some defensive spray dispensers are small enough to wear on your wrist while jogging. A good electric-shock device can cost more than $500 and is usually the same size as a standard handgun. A stun gun comes in a variety of sizes. Some models will fit in the palm of the hand and a stun gun adequate for the task can be had for under $100.

Keep in mind that situational awareness is always paramount. Be aware of who is behind you or in your proximity. Are there corners or dark areas where vision is obscured and an attacker could be lying in wait? Are you in a high-risk situation or environment? Keeping a look out will be even more important than the weapon you carry. The possession of a weapon simply gives you one more tool to help you deal with a potentially dangerous situation.