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Old 01-14-2022, 05:44 PM   #21
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Fascinating question/scenario, fascinating answers.

I can only add this. Having traveled far and wide (though only in the US) and having grown up in a crime ridden city which these days has the highest murder rate in the country, I still have no interest in carrying a gun. I own one but it is not kept ready for use.

It's really just a personal choice. Whether you think it will make you feel safer and whether you're prepared to use it are the big questions, thoughtfully expounded on above.

My MO is this, and for the record it is the same whether traveling by myself or with wife and children, I just don't camp or really even stop where I don't feel safe. Many times i've felt uneasy and adapted to the situation. Not once have I thought I would feel better with a gun. I do, however, keep various weapons around when traveling/camping which could be used for self defense if necessary.


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Old 01-14-2022, 07:44 PM   #22
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If i were in your shoes and didn’t like guns, buy yourself a can of wasp spray. That stuff is uber nasty and those cans shoot accurately for 20-25’. Give you time to either flee or posture up to defend yourself with your self defense training or whatever is currently handy to pummel with.

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Old 01-14-2022, 08:57 PM   #23
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I have no personal experience to add other than I follow a number of van-lifers on YouTube and a few of them solo women. One carried (or at least said she did); others haven't said, which is probably for the best. One of them is pretty young (early 20's) and is from NorCal and doesn't come across as a gun-type, so I doubt she had one. She does have a small dog and a strong sense of paranoia. She stays in a lot of BLM land and her rule is either alone or with more than one other van/RV in the area. Never just one other RV (unless she is traveling with them).

Honestly, that is the #1 reason for a van vs. any other type of RV: when you don't feel safe and need to get out quickly, a van lets you do that. Along that line of thought, in most situations I would clean up every evening with the possibility of needing to evacuate the area without getting out of the van. This means leaving nothing outside that you aren't ok with leaving behind.

Personally, I plan to carry firearms in my van, but they would be unloaded and in locked cases and not for self-defense. Mainly because my hope is to travel to shooting events in AZ from where I live in PA and I will likely have to drive through a number of states with variable firearm transport laws. I may not even carry ammo (is a gun really a gun if it can't shoot?).

There is definitely something to be said for that emotional readiness part. I had that conversation with my mother after her husband passed and left her with a house full of guns. They all went to his son from a previous marriage, but she asked if maybe she should keep one of them. I asked her the same questions: are you going to get training? Do you really think you could shoot someone? Her answer to both questions was "no... probably not" so she didn't keep any of them.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:42 PM   #24
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At times we will stay a night in a place where other RV's are parked. If you take aim at a potential assailant with a Colt .45 long and pull the trigger you will risk sending a solid slug that has the potential of hitting not only the assailant but someone else who my be 50 ft. away. A 38, .357, .45 and 10mm will all penetrate the walls of your van or RV. Consider getting a Tarus "Judge". It will shoot a Colt .45 long (solid slug) or a .410 shotgun cartrige. The .45 long will take down almost anything (except grizzly, polar bear or moose). If you buy .410 cartriges with a load of bird shot (very small pieces of lead) in the first two chambers you will be able to make any demands of the assailant you want. When you pull the trigger on the Judge, the retort from the .410 cartrige will be deafining. When you are in a situation where you truly fear for your life and you and the assailant are no more than 10 feet from each other, the assailant may actually survive but is well aware of the blinding amount of pain the bird shot causes instantly over a wide area. If you aim the Judge at the chest and pull the trigger, the assailant will feel a lot of pain in his/her chest wall but may actually live. In a situation where it is you who is holding the weapon, the assailant will quickly become compliant when you point to the floor and scream; "Lay down on the floor and do not move". If he/she does not obey your command you have a second .410 round in the next chamber. Again, using bird shot will minimize your risk of hitting another van, RV or their occupants. If the assailant refuses to obey your commands the next three chambers hold a Colt .45 long that will cause a catastrophic level of damage to the assailant's vital organs or neurological system. Just remember that a .45 slug will probably penetrate 4 to 5 walls of the vans or RVs parked nearby.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:52 PM   #25
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I love this forum. Always great comments without bashing anyone.

Another point for the OP to consider is where she wants to travel. In the US you can go to most states with a weapon, except maybe California. You cannot take one into Canada without a lot of paperwork and forget about taking one or even ammo into Mexico.
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Old 01-15-2022, 04:55 AM   #26
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Agree, lots of great comments. Likely nothing really to add, but I’ll make a few comments.

As mentioned the decision to use deadly force is personal and that really is the question.

At this point in my life, when in a fight or flight situation, I’d rather choose flight. Of course, best to avoid the situation if possible.

I am a retired Marine military policeman, carried a firearm often with work. I have a CCW and have even traveled with a firearm on occasion. Been many thousands of miles by motorcycle, car, and van sleeping in out of the way places and stealth sleeping in urban areas. Never needed to defend myself and the vast majority of those with no firearm.

I have friends who always carry.

Using ones head is the best defense as mentioned. Staying aware, looking for potential threats like people loitering before stopping and getting out. Depart on first sign of any trouble or when one is not comfortable.

Over on advrider there was a thread about a guy who was assaulted and an attempted theft of his bike while at a gas station. A assailant was essentially loitering near the pumps and when the rider stopped and got off his bike, the assailant acted.. If the rider had been observant, the situation would not have happened. There have been a number of these sort of threads there.

The woman’s rule mentioned by IanF makes a lot of sense as a general rule if one is concerned and at least make a judgment in the case of one other RV/vehicle.

A few years ago, a friend and I rode motorcycles to AK, 11,000 miles in 30 days. One afternoon we were looking to camp for the night in MT and we rode through a remote campground that had one occupant. I didn’t like the looks of the occupied campsite, looked like they were living there, they were flying a flag I didn’t care for and was unsure of the meaning, we moved on.

Whatever the choice, be safe out there, be observant and watchful, and if things don’t look right or feel comfortable, move on. What to look for would be another thread, but there are a number of things. While not directly the same, for urban situations, one could google “broken windows theory” for thoughts on environments to avoid. In a nutshell though, here is one explanation:

The broken windows theory states that any visible signs of crime and civil disorder, such as broken windows (hence, the name of the theory) vandalism, loitering, public drinking, jaywalking, and transportation fare evasion, create an urban environment that promotes even more crime and disorder (Wilson & Kelling, 1982).
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:42 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by shenrie View Post
If i were in your shoes and didnít like guns, buy yourself a can of wasp spray. That stuff is uber nasty and those cans shoot accurately for 20-25í. Give you time to either flee or posture up to defend yourself with your self defense training or whatever is currently handy to pummel with.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:09 AM   #28
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I hate to sound like a Safety Officer Sally Lawyer but the use of wasp spray, which was popularized by some #Vanlife communities, has it's own set of legal consequences if used on an assailant. And, may not actually be that effective YMMV. Same with bear spray vs pepper spray, which is "for human use". I have heard conversations, AKA this is rumor, that spraying someone with something, other than human approved pepper spray, will automatically lead to charges against you, a felony assault, depending on where you are located. Please investigate and consider these possible consequences when formulating your defense plan.

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Old 01-15-2022, 10:37 AM   #29
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Thank you ShuttlePilot!
Learning more on each post in this thread!

What does Bear Mace do to a Human?

Spoiler: Not what you think

Now to research pepper spray
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:07 AM   #30
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Not go astray on this thread, but I'll share my bear spray incident from a year ago.

I bought bear spray and have kept in the van since my Alaska trip in 2008. Yes, it was long expired, but I always just kept it behind my driver seat.

While traveling on a remote washboard road in Baja I suddenly smelled a sweet smell and could not breath. It was the weirdest thing, but I could not inhale at all. I slammed on the brakes, threw it into park and dove out of the van gasping for air. Once out I could breath fine but every time I poked my head back into the van I couldn't inhale. My first thought was a leaking fire extinguisher but they looked fine (would hold my breath and go into the van to check). Then I wondered if an AC coolant line ruptured like it had before, but this wasn't the result I had when that had happened before and AC lines were fine. I then went in to look at the bear spray can and found a small hole had worn into the side of the can over the years and it was leaking. I of course got it on my hands then on my nose because I'm an idiot. It burned terribly and finally subsided after about 15 minutes and a lot of washing and burn cream applied (it's all I could think of).

I bought another can and have it better protected, but after reading the article Ray linked I may swap out for "human" pepper spray.


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