Recent national news brought a wave of follow-up stories about gun control, mental health and the risk of violence toward society. I add the unusual personal perspective of having been the victim of death threats and attempted manslaughter. The risk may well be past but it still lingers in my mind. New Yorker Magazine published a story today about how this fear is good for the gun industry.
My rural home and business are not protected by police. We have no local police force and the closest state police barrack is at least 30 minutes away. I’ve often considered physical security but have no good plan to deal with the perceived risk.
I don’t own a gun and the only device I have for physical security are cans of wasp spray near the doors and one near the bed. I read that they may not actually be effective in deterring an intruder, perhaps this is only an internet myth. My gun-savvy brother urges me to buy a shotgun. My other brother says that the sound of a slide action shotgun being loaded in the middle of the night is enough to scare away a home intruder. We grew up with guns in the house. I’ve taken t least two NRA gun safety programs and decently skilled with a range of weapons including handguns and shotguns. But I got rid of my guns after our first child was born 24 years ago. I’ve considered buying another but haven’t pulled the trigger (pun intended) on that option.
Drug-related violence is real issue in my community and other rural communities. I am aware that some of the former workers of my business have drug problems. I get nervous when they occasionally return begging for money. Rarely do they threaten violence but it has happened at least twice. You don’t have to drive far to see bullet holes in walls in the closest towns of Millville and Bridgeton New Jersey. A few years ago I was invited to offer my opinion of a business location that a client was considering renting in Millville. On our first visit we did not have a key so we only looked at the outside of the building. One our second visit we returned a day later with a key to find the front door riddled with bullet holes. He rented the property anyway but it was an eye-opening experience for me.
My primary threat is different. The death threats I’ve received have come from neighbors angry with my political/environmentalist activity. At least two of the threats are still in the local area. One is apparently connected to the state police and so I wonder how reliable their protection might be. I have a strong credible indication that one local state police officer was coached to alter the wording of his court testimony in a related prosecution issue so my overall level of confidence in the local state police is low. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think they would protect me in an emergency situation. It’s only that they are a long distance away and are not my “buddies”.
One of my business associates keeps a machete and a baseball bat under the counter at his shop. I tease him, but in reality his defense plan is better than mine.
I do make video surveillance recordings of the home, business and my neighborhood. I’ve provided them on request to police on a number of occasions. The videos sometimes showed obvious wrong-doing and sometimes identified the person. Nothing ever happens. In more than 10 years of sharing videos, no one has ever been prosecuted for any crime as a result of the video evidence on my tapes. I no longer believe that video evidence is a crime deterrent.
The point of this blog post is simply to recognize that :
- I do not have a realistic way to gauge the risk of physical violence in my home and business setting.
- I do not have a plan to deal with such violence if it does occur.
I read some interesting and useful information on web site by Chris E McGoey, CPP, CSP, CAM and will continue to consider the options.