Women and Weapons: Best ways to protect yourself from an attacker

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — According to a report by the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee is fifth in the nation for the rate of women murdered by men.

Rather than wait on a safety solution that may never come, more and more women take their safety into their own hands.

Guns, less-than-lethal weapons, and martial arts are just some of the areas that see a massive uptick in women wanting in.

FOX13’s Lauren Coleman joined a group of women to see for herself just how effective each tool can be.

More and more people are turning to guns for protection and self-defense.

“We’re not living in grandpa and grandma times anymore,” said retired Shelby County Captain Bennie Cobb.

Cobb said he’s seen an increase in the number of women that take his Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Class.

“Women in some situations are considered not to be as strong as men,” Cobb said. “So, we want women to understand you can defend yourself.”

69-year-old Sherrill Henderson said she feels comfortable using a gun if she has to.

“I shop a lot,” Henderson said. “I have a catering service. I deliver a lot, out in the street a lot, and often I’m out by myself.”

But 21-year-old Kenesha Pine isn’t as comfortable holding one.

“I was nervous,” Pine said. “I wasn’t comfortable, but I did it through. I was nervous.”

This is why Cobb integrates less-than-lethal weapon training into some of his courses.

FOX13’s Lauren Coleman joined the group of women in the class and put a can of pepper spray, stun gun, baton and Kubaton Keychain to the test.

First, was the stun gun.

This weapon can cost anywhere from $10 to $15.

The device delivers an electrical shock to stop an attacker.

It’s rechargeable and small enough to fit in a purse or pocket, but the shock must touch bare skin and does not go through heavy clothing.

Next, was a can of pepper spray.

A small bottle can be purchased from a retail store for as little as $5.

“You absolutely have to spray them in the face,” Cobb said. “You want to spray them in the eyes, nose, and mouth. It won’t work if you spray it on their clothes.”

Henderson tested the collapsible baton.

This metal device can be used as a striking tool.

“The one I like is the wand,” Henderson said. “I carry a metal bat and it’s kind of heavy. The wand is light and it’s sturdy. I didn’t even know anything about that.”

Last, was the Kubaton Keychain.

Almost the size of a pen, this weapon can also be used to strike.

Like most gadgets, we discovered these less-than-lethal weapons do come with limitations.

A victim must be close to the attacker for any of the devices to work.

“I would want a gun because I’m too slow,” Henderson said. “I can’t run from anybody. They may be faster than me, but they won’t be faster than a bullet.”

Whether a woman chooses to use a gun, their hands, or a less-than-lethal weapon, Cobb said proper training and self-awareness are key.

“So, you want to make sure that you have a strong sense of situational awareness,” Cobb said. “Put your phone down, be aware of what’s happening around you.”

Cobb said the purpose of the tools is for self-defense and that it can be a crime to use them offensively.

Cobb is also the owner of Eagle Eye Security and Training Services.

He offers an array of classes for gun and weapon training.

Visit the Violence Policy Center’s website for more information.