Gun enthusiasts will keep guns under any circumstance. However, the escalating crime rate of the 1970s and 1980s created in the public a need for personal security that still exists today.

There are non-lethal alternatives that allow homeowners to protect themselves without endangering children. The two most acceptable for home and personal defense are electric stun devices, known as Tasers, and chemical sprays.

Until recently both lacked the standoff distance desired to keep an attacker at bay. However, new versions project either an electrical shock or a chemical agent at a safe range. Air Taser is propelled by compressed air and can strike a target accurately at up to 20 feet. It also may be equipped with a laser that serves an aiming point and can be intimidating. In darkness an intruder would not know whether the laser was attached to a Taser or a pistol.

Compressed air guns using advances in encapsulation technology now also allow an agent such as pepper spray to hit an attacker at up to 100 meters. In most cases, use of these agents will provide sufficient time to get away safely before the assailant recovers.

Children who accidentally discharge a non-lethal weapon may experience pain, but they will recover. The same cannot be said of bullets. Thus, non-lethal weapons offer a viable alternative for home protection while eliminating accidental death.

JOHN B. ALEXANDER

Las Vegas