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Less-Lethal Crowd Defense: A New Reality


While our right to defend ourselves within our homes is still unquestionable — particularly in Castle Doctrine states — encounters outside the home may be called into question. More recently, law-abiding citizens’ actions are being measured against standards of conduct for police officers. This is despite the fact that civilians lack the training and on-the-job experience of dealing with high-threat situations. It would be wise to take note and choose to layer your defensive system with additional less-lethal options.

Crowds, some unruly, are becoming the norm again. And it is essential to have less-lethal defensive means available before resorting to self-defense with a firearm. This changing legal landscape has caused me to upgrade my travel supplies for our vacation this year as well. Personal-sized pepper spray canisters may no longer ensure safe vehicular travel but are still important for personal carry.

But Which Less-Lethal Option?

Any device designed for crowd control is in very short supply. People are buying up pepper ball launchers as fast as companies can make them. Larger-sized canisters of pepper spray are also unavailable or on backorder. People across the country are terrified and aren’t buying only guns.

However, bear-defense sprays, usually carried by campers and hikers, are still available. I have Frontiersman Bear Attack OC Spray in the 7.9-ounce Fog Blast Canister manufactured by Sabre. While it is advertised for use against bears, it is certainly more reasonable than deadly force when danger presents itself as multiple threats. Criminal members of unruly crowds have seriously injured innocent people across the country this year, and Frontiersman’s 7.9-ounce pepper spray delivery system offers several advantages over smaller defense sprays:

  1. The Frontiersman 7.9-ounce canister is closest in size to that used by law enforcement for riot control. (True LE riot-control canisters are generally not available to civilians.)
  2. Frontiersman’s fog blast delivery system can instantly diffuse through a large outdoor area, distracting multiple threats simultaneously. Stream, gel and foam OC delivery systems do not have the ability to keep their OC airborne long enough for a distraction effect.
  3. The Frontiersman canister has a range of 35 feet in still air, which allows you to maintain your distance. It is farther-reaching than all the other sprays I have seen.
  4. The canister is easy to use. Flip out the locking block (after previously removing the yellow zip tie before carrying) with your strong-hand thumb and push down on the spray lever.
  5. The canister comes with a holster for belt carry to back up a firearm.

Less-Lethal Legality

Despite being labeled for use against bears, Frontiersman’s canister does not include a warning that it is against federal law when used for unintended purposes.* (Note: Frontiersman OC Spray contains 2 percent major capsaicinoids, a lower amount than many pepper sprays intended for use on humans. The label does note that the spray may cause irreversible eye damage if sprayed in the eyes at close range. Be mindful of the wind.)

These are challenging times for the law-abiding. Having a large canister of pepper spray product in your vehicle or at home gives you an additional self-defense option that can reduce your legal jeopardy. It’s time to expand your defensive system.

Frontiersman Bear Defense Spray is available on Amazon for $34.99.

*As always, you should check your local listings in regard to what you carry for self-defense. You must also be able to articulate in criminal and civil court that a reasonable person would have acted the same in the case of self-defense.



About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.

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