Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

Spy Secrets That Can

Save Your Life

Get Out Alive

Mailbag Monday

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Jason, I have to tell you that I love my tactical pen. I carry it everywhere. My question is, if I use the pen in self-defense could I get in trouble? Would it be considered a weapon?

-From Lenny R.

Answer: The tactical pen is one of my favorite self-defense tools. If you have to use the pen in self-defense, you should not get in trouble if you were justified in using it.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if it’s a tactical pen, gun, knife or any other weapon you use to defend yourself, as long as you’re justified.


In my younger days I was a bouncer at a bar. I was involved in my fair share of fights. But, now I can no longer fight. How can I talk my way out of confrontations?

-From Maurice M.

Answer: I would always rather talk my way out of a dangerous situation than have to resort to fighting.

One of the ways to talk your way out of fighting is flattery. Basically, kill the person with flattery. It will likely surprise them and change their attitude.

So, kill the person with kindness or flattery, so you don’t have to fight.


If I hear a noise in the middle of the night, is it better to go investigate with the lights on or the lights off? Will it scare a bad guy away or make it easier to see me?

-From Lawrence T.

Answer: First, I always store a flashlight with my home defense pistol. What I mean is, on my nightstand next to my gun safe is a flashlight, so I can grab my gun and flashlight at the same time.

​As for turning on the lights, I wouldn’t waste time doing it if I think someone is inside my home.

My main focus is going to be stopping the criminal from getting to my family, but I obviously need to be able to see, which is why I use a flashlight.

From a tactical standpoint you are going to know the layout of your home better than the intruder, so operating in the dark may give you an advantage as long as you can see with your flashlight.

I recommend practicing for a home defense situation and clearing your home in the dark with only a flashlight. This will get you familiar with your home in low light conditions.


Like many people I have recently started worrying about my bank accounts. Who knows what bank will be the next one to fail. How much cash do you think I should keep at home? And what is the best way to protect my cash?

-From Lily R.

Answer: I recommend having at least 6 months’ worth of your living expenses saved in a bank and at least one month’s of living expenses in cash in your home.

For the one month of cash in your house, I would keep it in $20 bills.

I would store it in a small, fireproof safe. Sentry is one such company that makes inexpensive fireproof safes.

I would hide the safe and make it hard to find in case someone broke in your house.


I’m a truck driver who travels all over the country. One of my biggest concerns is using public restrooms. I have to turn my back to use the restroom and feel vulnerable. Any ideas to stay safe in restrooms?

-From Kelly T.

Answer: Using a public restroom is one place where we need to have heightened situational awareness.

If you happen to be standing with your back to other people, I recommend using the spot that is against a wall on the end. This way you will be able to look out for any threats.

Also, when possible, I would use a “family stall.” These are more private.

If you are traveling with another person, you could take turns using the restroom. The one who is not in the bathroom can stand outside and watch for any threats.

Unfortunately, there is no great answer here except to use a stall whenever you can and avoid the urinal and take some self-defense training.


I don’t have anything against guns but I have never owned one. I feel I am at the point where I would like to get one but I am nervous. How do I overcome fears about owning a gun?

-From Tara M.

Answer: Have a friend take you to the shooting range. Rent a couple of different guns. Taking people to the shooting range has been my “go to” for getting them comfortable with guns.

Also, most shooting ranges have beginner firearms classes that you can sign up for and I would do that too.

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