If you carry, you have to consider “gun-free zones” or other non-permissive environments (NPE) as a constraint on your ability to wear a firearm without committing a felony.
There are many variables that impact what that means from state-to-state and town-to-town.
I don’t want to violate my own operational security, but I will say that you can secure a firearm safely to your vehicle in a way that does not violate my state laws for almost every infringement contained in our revised statutes.
To the topic at hand, the need to defend yourself while in an NPE does not vanish just because you are now in the awesomeness of a “gun-free zone”.
So what do you do?
When we teach our courses, we always stress that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But what if you don’t even have your hammer? The lesson here is to do more than practice shooting guns. You have to have other skills if for no other reason than every encounter does not require a lethal response. Get yourself some other tools.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Krav Maga, Capoeira, Kung Fu are all good ways to have a force multiplier in an NPE. I don’t know if these are for everyone, but I know people who train in one or more martial arts that you might not see as the next Bruce Lee.
Chemical sprays are somewhat effective, but there are bad guys out there who have either trained to overcome commercial chemical deterrents or are just not greatly affected by them. If you do go this route, get something that is a gel form and has a good range (18 ft. or more). You have to aim it a bit, but don’t rely on the chemical fog to be very effective. Especially if someone is going to be within arms reach in order for the fog to work. Most of the gels have a UV dye included. We like Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray for Runners. Super easy to carry virtually hands-free.
We like knives. We have a lot of knives. Knives are cool. They do require training and you have to train in other forms of fighting to really be effective using a knife for defense. If you go this route, a giant John Rambo or Crocodile Dundee implementation of this concept is not your best bet. Get something fairly small and easy to open. It should also have a pocket clip so you can bring it to bear quickly.
Defensive Whips and Batons
A collapsible baton that can fit in your back pocket might be just the trick. You could also check out the Quick Strike Personal Safety Tool. It takes very little training, is easy to carry, easy to conceal, and just kinda fun to play with. You might also look at something like a tactical pen (like this one from Smith and Wesson).
“Field-expedient” Defense Items
It is not uncommon to see someone wearing a bike lock and chain, or a bunch of keys on a lanyard, or a large, heavy flashlight.
The downside to most NPE tools is you have to get within arms reach to use them. Not the most advantageous position. Which brings us to our bonus! Pretty exciting and I can’t wait to test one!
Yes, we know we have not covered electrical devices that shock the living pee-waddin’ out of your assailant. We also did not cover this: