Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reno pepper spray sales up......

Taser, pepper spray sales soar
Siobhan McAndrew (SMCANDRE@RGJ.COM)

Area retailers said they can't keep up with the demand for pepper spray.

Local sporting good stores and gun shops have sold thousands of the aerosol spray canisters that can incapacitate an attacker by causing temporary blindness, difficulty breathing, a runny nose and coughing.

The killing of Brianna Denison by what police say is a serial rapist has many young women looking for any line of defense, retail clerks said.

"We probably sell 30 to 40 of them a day," said Robert Currier of the Scotland Yard Spy Shop on Virginia Street. "We have a list of 30 people who have already paid and are waiting for us to stock it again."

The REI store has been turning away customers looking for a spray used to fend off bear attacks as a method of defense.

"Bear spray is not for anyone looking for a product for personal safety," said James Hedges, a manager at REI.

Sports Authority's two Reno locations have been out of pepper spray for a few days; ABC Lock and Glass in Sparks said its stock of more than 1,000 canisters ran out this weekend.

David Currier, owner of the Scotland Yard Spy Shop, drove Tuesday to Sacramento to get 160 canisters after selling almost 400.

The most popular model is a half-ounce canister in a leather case that can be attached to a key chain.

The spray, made from resins found in a variety of peppers including cayenne and chilis, can be a great defense, experts said.

"When people have trained to use it and are using a good product, it works great," Tracy Hawkins, a safety trainer and owner of the Safety and Security Source in Kansas City, Mo., adding that personal alarms also are effective.

"People discount them because they say car alarms just go off in a parking lot and no one pays attention, Hawkins said. "The fact that the car is still in the parking lot proves it works."

Pistol and stun gun sales have increased at local gun shops.

"We have had probably two or three times more people in here looking at guns because of Brianna Denison," said Marion Morreale of the Gun Trader on Plumb Lane.

She said the most popular item has been the Five-Shot .38 revolver that sells for $640.

The C2, a civilian-use Taser designed for women, has been a popular item at Mark Fore & Strike, a sporting goods store on Kietzke Lane.

Reno police recommend that buyers of defense weapons get training.

"I was talking to a young woman the other day who purchased pepper spray and she had no idea how you were supposed to use it," Reno police officer Kellie Fox said. "If you don't know how to use something or you're not comfortable with it, it's not going to help."

Personal weapon rules
Pepper spray: Can be used by anyone 18 and older who is not a felon. No more than 2 fluid ounces of pepper spray can be carried for self-defense. Tear gas, commonly called Mace, sells as a pepper spray product. Some companies still make a product that is a combination of tear gas and pepper spray. Police stopped using tear gas because it causes severe pain and can aggravate more than incapacitate an assailant.
Pistol: Can be purchased by anyone older than 21 after a state and federal background check and must be registered, unless purchased from a private seller. Local gun shops said the background check should take no more than an hour.
Taser or stun gun: Legal to carry in Nevada. Cannot be used by anyone younger than 18 or anyone who has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment, is a fugitive, has been arrested or convicted of drug use or possession, is an illegal immigrant, is committed to a mental institution or has been convicted of domestic violence.

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