Ahhh…Mace, Doesn’t it just seem like the pinnacle of self defense ease? You don’t have to train to use it, you can easily buy it, it’s cheap, and since it’s not fatal you don’t have to ask yourself the “could I kill someone” question before you arm yourself with it.
But SHOULD you arm yourself with it?
First off, let’s clear up WHAT mace is. Mace and pepper spray are NOT the same thing, though used synonymously. Mace is an irritant, like tear gas, and pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. Mace makes eyes sting and tear, pepper spray makes them swell up and shut, causing temporary blindness. It also causes the lung tissue to be inflamed when inhaled. Personally, I carry Blue-face, because not only does it come with the tagline “turns criminals into smurfs!” but it is a defense spray with dye added so that the police or future potential victims can see that the attacker has been sprayed in the face.
Back to the question of whether or not you are going to carry mace/pepper spray. Simply put, if you are going to use it as an excuse to do stupid things that you would normally avoid as unsafe, because it gives you a false sense of security, then you are better off not taking it. I’ve been pepper sprayed twice (both accidental), and I’m telling you, it’s irritating, but not necessarily debilitating. Also, when you spray it, it usually disperses in a wide stream that can easily catch the wind and blow back at you as well as the attacker. To avoid this, you have to have the mace really close to the eyes so that the liquid remains liquid instead of mist. Or buy a bottle that disperses in a stream, but those are harder to find.
If someone is close enough to be threatening, or even has taken the fight to the ground, mace can be an asset. It can turn the tides of the fight in your favor. But it is not going to assure safety and escape. You can’t just spray an attacker in the face and expect them to run away crying. I use mace as a way to blind them so that I can strike while they are distracted. Mace is the start of the fight, not the end of one. Spray them and then fight like an animal and then run for your life.
If you are determined to follow common sense self defense rules regardless of carrying it, then mace is a good addition to your self defense arsenal for the worst case scenarios. But if it creates a false sense of security and will make you more likely to put yourself in danger, you are better off leaving it alone, because it’s just not effective or certain enough to even out the increased risks you may be taking.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions and not professional or legal advice.