Security guards arming themselves
Recently we were strolling through the streets of Gotham and noticed a security guard carrying an ASP tactical baton. The ASP is an excellent and well recognized tool (we are ASP instructors), and we are particularly fond of their 16 inch baton for pocket carry—it closes to 6.25 inches – though for duty use we prefer the 21 inch RBC (see the October 2006 issue of ÆGIS). However, our personal preferences aside, it is illegal for a security guard to be carrying an impact weapon in New York City.
We stopped the gentleman in question and asked him about his ASP. He carried it because he was afraid of being attacked, and, illegal or not, wanted to be able to protect himself. He was, as you would expect, untrained in use of an impact weapon, which means that if he needed it, he would likely simply whack his attacker over the head. This would present him – and his employer – with a set of serious problems.
Now, the astute reader either knows or has observed that most security guards these days are unarmed. They do not carry guns, not even in banks, and they do not carry impact weapons. Their job is to deter by their presence, and to be good witnesses if a crime takes place. Their job is not to either die or kill protecting private property or money or jewelry. Here in New York City, if there is felt to be a need for an armed guard, as in banks, the likelihood is that a uniformed officer will be arranged-for.
A security guard who chooses to arm himself has misunderstood either his function, his level of risk, or his liability (and that of his employer). But let us say that he has some special knowledge of risk, and feels the need to arm himself. An illegal impact weapon in which he is untrained is a better choice than an illegal gun for which he has received no training, but nowhere near as good a choice as an illegal misting pepper-based spray (ASR) for which he has not been trained. He is certainly far less likely to kill someone! Even better would be an ASR with training.
That said, we do not recommend that security guards illegally arm themselves. We do, however, recommend that those supplying security guards make sure that their employees have sufficient training to understand their role and responsibilities. And that unusual problems facing a guard are brought to the attention of management and dealt with (likely in conjunction with the police) in such a way as to preclude the need for a security officer arming himself.