Do you carry pepper spray as part of your defensive toolkit? I am a big fan of pepper spray for non-lethal threats, but it’s not a perfect solution as this officer shows. This sad video is an important reminder at Active Self Protection of the limitations of all the tools we carry, especially our pepper spray.
If you value what we do at ASP, would you consider becoming an ASP Patron Member to support the work it takes to make the narrated videos like these armed robbers getting their just desserts? https://get-asp.com/patron gives the details.
Original video of the pepper spray failing is available in our Instructor Development Portal.
Corporal McKay’s Officer Down memorial page: https://get-asp.com/wh6q
Involved magazine piece telling the history between Corporal McKay and the man who killed him, including how that man was killed: https://get-asp.com/udzv
What does this officer teach us about how and when to use pepper spray to defend ourselves?
- In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training! Corporal McKay was expecting his pepper spray to subdue the suspect, but it changed SO fast and he had little time to react. This is the reality of life and death exchanges.
- Spiritual fitness is an important part of Active Self Protection. You don’t often get any advance notice of the last day of your life, but we see over and over that self-defense isn’t a guarantee of winning every fight you might be placed in. You want to be at peace with your loved ones and with God, because you’ll need that peace on the day that you meet Him. Since you can’t guarantee advanced notice, make peace today. Corporal McKay didn’t go to work expecting his pepper spray to fail and cost him his life; let’s all take that as a lesson to be ready for today to be our last day.
- Even if you’re injured, you must stay in the fight and not stop as long as you have consciousness. The human body is designed to take a ridiculous amount of injury and still function, so never stop fighting just because you’re injured! Even if you’re shot or stabbed, you have a 67-95% chance of surviving! (https://get-asp.com/ew3l and https://get-asp.com/p0hn give the details) So practice emotional fitness by knowing that even if the bad guy gets the jump and you’re injured, you’re still in the fight and still likely to survive if you take definitive action to protect yourself. There’s no telling which injury it was that actually killed Corporal McKay, but staying in the fight is the only way to go.
- Pepper spray is an excellent tool and should be in every self-defenders defensive repertoire (I carry Sabre Red), but it is not a panacea. It works on 85-90% of people; about 10-15% of people are simply immune to Oleoresin Capsicum. Part of training with OC is also being sprayed with it and learning that you CAN fight through exposure if you know what to expect and you have good emotional fitness, and some attackers have both. So if you carry pepper spray, know its limitations and know that you don’t get what you want with it all the time.
- You must understand that your intermediate force options, those in between hands and firearm/knife (like pepper spray, TASER, baton, etc.) will not always be effective. They are designed to be used BEFORE a threat becomes a deadly threat, and we must always be ready for them to fail us. At that point, we must quickly decide whether the right answer is to move to empty-handed skills or to deadly force options.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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