The world is indeed a scary place, and it's critical you've got the means to protect and defend your family when the bad guys come knocking.
But there's one big red flag when it comes to defending yourself. And that's the amount of force you're allowed to use. It's crazy, but there are laws in place that protect your attackers.
Now it varies from state to state, but in general the rules only allow you to use lethal force if your life, or the life of someone else is in imminent danger. So if you shoot someone who breaks into your home, be prepared that you'll be dragged into court afterwards and need to convince the jury that you had no other options.
Using lethal force should be seen as a last resort. For when you've been confronted by an attacker and they've made it clear that they intend to kill you. But this raises a problem. What if someone has broken into your home, and you're not sure of their intention?
They may want to kill you. Or they may just want to steal your television.
Without knowing their intention, you're going to get in big trouble if you shoot to kill them. Even if they're the ones breaking into your home. Instead, you should arm yourself with non-lethal self-defense weapons, and fight back with an appropriate level of force.
Now I'm definitely not recommending you test a canister on yourself, but after being sprayed (for test purposes) I can honestly say that pepper spray is one of the most effective ways to disable an opponent. The burn in your eyes makes it unlikely you can do anything but rub as they tear up from the pain. Get them good and you'll temporary blind your attacker, giving you the chance to escape and call the authorities. Our Devil Juice pepper spray is effective up to 6 feet away, and is powerful enough to stop even the most determined attacker.
A stun gun is a rather intimidating weapon. Pull the trigger and the electricity starts arcing and sparking from the prongs, which should give most attackers a little pause. I like that a stun gun is far less messy than pepper spray, and that once you connect your attacker is going to go down. The only downside is how close you need to get to use it. My advice is to strike fast and hard with a stun gun to ensure you get the prongs to connect with their skin, then run once they've been taken down.
I'm sure you've swung a baseball bat at some stage in your life, and if not it's relatively simple. Grip it tight and swing it at your attacker. There's no safety to worry about, and you don't need accuracy like using a taser or your pepper spray, which makes it a rather effective self-defense weapon. Plus, you can pick up a baseball bat cheap, and no one is going to think twice if you've got it along with a couple of mitts and a ball in the back of your car.
The Strikelights are one of my favorite self-defense items in our shop, because it's seriously badass. Made from aircraft-grade aluminum, it's heavy, and there's three different light settings you can use to potentially blind your attacker before you make your strike. The wrist strap means it's not going to slip or be torn from your grip, and the beveled edge cause a huge amount of damage with this extendable baton.
This bears mention because you're not always going to be around to defend yourself. Perhaps you're at work, or its the middle of the night, investing in a home security system helps monitor any suspicious movements around your home, and alert you when anything is amiss. Get one with a siren that wakes the whole neighborhood, and to scare off any attackers who may have thought to try and pry open a window or door of your home.
Taser's are great as a non-lethal self defensive weapon because they combine the range of a firearm with the stopping power of a stun gun. Most are effective up to about 15 feet, and shoot a pair of gas-propelled probes out and into your attacker. Once they make contact the electrical current is administered, overloading their nervous system so they go down hard. It doesn't matter if you're facing a drunk attacker or someone high on drugs, a taser will take them down without the concern you're going to do any long-term damage.
In its traditional form a shotgun is lethal, but I mention it here for two reasons. The intimidation factor of a shotgun can give you a significant advantage against any opponent, and you don't even need to load it with normal cartridges. Instead buy rubber slugs or beanbag rounds, and you can use your shotgun to take down an opponent, without worrying you're going to kill then. These alternate rounds are what often gets used in riot and crowd control, and work to inflict blunt force trauma instead of a traditional bullet wound, which makes it an excellent choice if you're worried about using lethal force.
Get a dog
My final recommendation is something I believe every family should have. A dog. There is nothing better to deter a potential home invader, or to make yourself less of a target when you're walking around your neighborhood. A dog will go a long way to keep you safe, acting as a backup to your home alarm system and letting you know when something is wrong. Depending on the breed, you can also get proper training to hold and engage any uninvited guests on command. Plus, they're great friends, and if you treat them right they'll love you unconditionally.
When it comes to defending yourself, there are many options that don't involve straight out killing your opponent. And considering the amount of drama you'll go through proving that you were in fact, justified to defend your life, in my opinion it's not always worth the risk. Better to use non-lethal force.