The best way to stay safe is for the people to take safety into their own hands
IF the spate of armed robberies, snatch thefts, kidnappings, car-jackings and muggings that has captured the attention of the media and the public of late has benefited anyone (other than the criminals), it must surely be the security industry. Neighbourhoods that can afford it hire more security guards with increased patrols; home-owners buy guard dogs, install sophisticated alarms, fix extra-strong grilles and padlocks; car owners shatter-proof their windows, and pay for global positioning system tracking services; shopping malls and parking lots install emergency alarms and even more closed-circuit television cameras in their buildings; and individuals invest in hand-held alarms, pepper spray, whistles and tactical key chains.
Quite possibly, therefore, more money is spent in keeping safe than is lost to the criminals. And while this may appear illogical from the monetary perspective, since some of these crimes have resulted in the victims being seriously injured or killed, and since all these crimes make people feel insecure, the overinvestment in security is understandable. Ideally of course, crime should not happen, and behaviour should be regulated by society and law enforcement. But since the enforcers cannot be expected to be everywhere all at once, the best way to stay safe is for everyone to take safety into their own hands.
Of course, whether the pepper spray or tactical key chain will actually be used properly should the need arise is quite another matter. In the first place, that these simple and relatively inexpensive defence aids are flying off the shelves is no guarantee that they are now in the hands of potential victims of crime. Like matches and knives, they are tools which can be used for good or for bad; so, these tools can be bought to either protect the innocent, or to attack them. And even in the hands of the innocent, they can still be used against them if the good person is clumsy and the bad person fast.
However, whether or not it is deployed, the act of taking out a canister of pepper spray or holding tightly to a tactical key chain while walking along a lonely stretch or towards or away from one's vehicle or home does serve a good purpose: to set a person's focus firmly on safety. Having such "weapons" may not make one a good fighter, or increase one's confidence; but it does make one alert to one's surroundings, and alert in assessing potential risk. For, anyone who possesses something that could injure another person must be aware of the responsibility that comes with causing an injury. Even when in self-defence, any force that is used must be proportionate to the threat. And if the opportunity arises in which one can safely walk away instead of retaliating, one should choose to stand down. Otherwise, even a good person can become bad.