No one is totally safe

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Put safety, protection habits into practice

Are you a warrior or a victim? That was the question Maj. Matt Shaw, undersheriff at Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, presented to those at a personal safety awareness class. A need for such a class was necessitated by the recent rage of violent attacks in Lancaster County.
Just days after Christmas, Kershaw resident Hope Melton was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat. Her body was thrown in a desolate area known for coyotes and other animals.
While acts of violence are reported across the nation and world daily, what makes this one so scary is it appears to be random.
Sheriffs across the state, including Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile, are advocating that women get a concealed-weapons permit and carry a gun. And for good reason. Officers do a good job at protecting our community, but they cannot be everywhere. Hence the reason for the personal safety awareness classes.
Shaw, who is certified as a self-defense and firearms instructor and an National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms instructor, said violent crime statistics reveal a need for such classes.
“Get rid of denial,” Shaw said. “No one is totally safe; we all are at risk.”
That was evident again on Jan. 23 in downtown Lancaster. A person was attacked while getting into their vehicle on Main Street about 9 p.m. The victim was attacked, robbed and allowed to leave.
On Wednesday, the Lancaster Police Department arrested Gaeric Quindrell Johnson, 22, 414 South Ave., in connection with the assault and charged him with criminal sexual conduct. Pending charges included armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Shaw was right when he said it is our responsibility to protect ourselves and be prepared.
“Only a fool confuses preparedness with paranoia,” Shaw said.
In South Carolina, a person can carry a gun legally after passing a concealed weapon permit class. Concealed weapon permit classes consist of an eight-hour course that requires participants to pass written and shooting tests and usually costs about $50.
It is also important to know self-defense laws in South Carolina. The Castle Doctrine is a legal doctine adopted by the state that covers laws of self-defense. It states the right to defend yourself and guarantees the right of an individual to bear arms. It also protects an individual when force is necessary for self-defense.
“You can stand your ground and meet force with force, including deadly force,” Shaw said.
If you’re not comfortable with carrying a weapon, there are other ways to protection. Common sense should always prevail:
u Be aware of your surroundings
u Pay attention and don’t let distractions put you in a dangerous situation
u Alternatives to guns include personal tasers, pepper spray and other self-defense items
u Flashlights, screw drivers, hammers, a tire plug tool or box cutter can also be effective weapons
u If awareness or avoidance don’t work, run, yell or scream
u The four most vulnerable places on the human body are the eyes, fingers, throat or groin
u Get an alarm system or a dog for your home
Shaw said it’s important we all know how to defend ourselves at any time.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not advocating a return to the wild, wild west. But we need to be able to live normal lives without fear of violent attacks.
“I am sick and tired of seeing the bad guys win,” Shaw said. “But I can’t make you prepared – only give you information. The rest is up to you to put into practice.”
We agree. We shouldn’t and don’t have to live in constant fear. To do so means we’re a victim – not a warrior. Which are you? The decision is yours.