Some responses to my pepper spray post suggested a gun instead of pepper spray. My friends live in jurisdictions (such as Los Angeles) in which a concealed carry license is very hard to get. I also suspect that some of them would be reluctant to carry a gun even if they could get a license (whether that's a sound view or not, I leave to them).
Still, most Americans live in places where concealed carry licenses are fairly easily available to law-abiding adults, at least those age 21 and above; and presumably because of that, reader George Phipps asked,
Since several responses have suggested a pistol as a more efficacious alternative, would EV consider a new post, with more or less the same requirements, that would ask for comments on a pistol for his friends, provided of course that they would consider a firearm for self-defense?
I am happy to accept the suggestion, and am therefore putting up this post.
In keeping with my original query, I'd like to ask commenters to specially consider what might be preferred by women, or to be more precise (1) by people who might be on the smaller side, or (2) by people who might want to carry in a purse rather than in a holster. On the other hand, if you think you have a good unisex answer, or have advice only for men and not for women, please feel free to post it -- just note whom your advice is focused on.