Belgrade man's self-defense weapon for women gains nationwide attention

    Richard Romano of Belgrade holding self-defense weapon he gives away to women for free.

    Richard Romano, 79, starts his day early in the machine shop he started 22 years ago in Belgrade.

    Part of his day starts with catching up on the news. He says stories about sexual assault kept bothering him, so he decided to do something about it. Seven years ago he started making self-defense Kubotans for women for free.

    "If I ever hit you," Romano said, "it'll put you on your knees. You can put it in your purse, you can put your keys on it -- whack 'em in the face."

    According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three women nationwide experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, and 91 percent of victims are female.

    "I thought I was just going to stay local in Montana and give them away for free," Romano added.

    He soon found himself shipping them all across the country free of charge.

    His batons got so popular that a self-defense store in Virginia started buying them, pushing his volume up to 200 a month.

    He said the constant work keeps him busy, and he has no plans of stopping.

    "I'll never retire. When I die and they put me in the ground, the worms will get fat and the fishermen will smile," Romano said.

    If you would like to place an order with Romano, you can call 406-388-0032 or go to his website.

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