- 24 chose firearms
- 2 chose non-lethal methods such as a Tazer or Mace
- 3 chose hand to hand fighting methods
- 4 chose to run and hide
All of these methods make sense and all of these methods should be a part of a common sense self defense plan.
Firearms are an obvious method of self defense due to stopping power and the ability of a firearm to "level the playing field". If you are smaller or weaker than your attacker, your attacker is armed, or you are being attacked by a group of people, having a firearm will even up the odds of you coming out ahead of the situation; without one you don't have much of a chance. Note, however, that firearms are not always the perfect self defense choice. In situations where firearms are illegal (military bases, some foreign countries, etc), using one may land YOU in prison and thus the wisdom of having one would be in question. Also, once you shoot someone, there is no taking it back and many a tragic situation has occurred when the shooter (who obviously wasn't following basic firearms safety rules) killed someone (friend, relative, neighborhood kid) because they shot through a door, into the dark, when they were drunk, or angry, ending with a death on their hands that they will have to live with (and often pay for) for the rest of their lives.
Non lethal methods such as a Tazer or Mace are another option for self defense and, when used properly, can work wonders when it comes to defending your life. On a positive note, non lethal methods can give you time to escape your attacker without killing them. Causing an attacker pain (always a good thing) with a jolt from a Tazer or shot of Mace to the face will both render them unable to proceed with their attack as well as give you time to run away from the situation or call the police. On a negative note, you need to be fairly close to the attacker to use these items and in general you don't want to let an attacker get that close to you. They could take these items from you and use them on you and there is always the possibility of YOU accidentally using them on you. Many a public building with a good HVAC system has had to be evacuated due to an accidental release of Mace.
Hand to hand combat skills should be a requirement of everyone who is physically capable of such action. The reason military and law enforcement personnel are trained with firearms as well as in hand to hand combat is simple--sometimes an attack happens so unexpectedly you don't have time to pull your weapon, sometimes you need to need to wrestle your weapon away from an attacker, and sometimes you are in an unarmed situation where you still need to defend yourself with what you have, basically your two hands. Obviously, there are a number of negatives associated with this method of self defense, namely you don't know how skillful the other guy is, he may overpower you, and you could end up injured or dead, but if you have no other option either because you don't have or choose not to have a firearm or other weapon, at least having a bit of physical skill could save your life.
The final poll choice, running and hiding, is a viable self defense option. In a situation where the attacker is armed and you aren't, no amount of macho is going to save your life if you are standing there like a firing line silhouette. Better that they can't find you or can't catch you so that they can't shoot you and you will live to fight another day. This is also a great option for children who don't carry weapons. In an anthropological sense, games aren't just something to kill time, the purpose of games is to teach survival skills. Hide and seek, for example, is a playful way for kids to learn how to use one of their best defenses which is to hide since an attacker is almost always larger and more powerful than them. The ability to hide oneself or run away from a situation has also been used quite effectively by Ninjas, American Indians, and to this day by specially trained combat troops.
Which ever method you choose, or if you choose to make all of these methods a part of your self defense plan, the most important thing is to practice often. The benefits of muscle memory combined with developed skills can, and will, save your life in a dangerous situation.