(If you’re here for what I write about traveling in a motorhome, you may be accustomed to some RVing forums squelching frank talk about personal security and self-defense while on the road. I’m not constrained by someone else’s “code of conduct,” so I’m not likely to short-arm that subject here on Ubi Libertas Blog. Just so you know.)
Going on seven months now, Deb, Scout, Dipstick and I have traveled in our own tidy little bubble. The wider world rarely intrudes — we’re mere spectators on strife and struggle, keeping mostly to ourselves as we roll around America.
The RVing community tends to be a relatively low-threat environment, and any threats associated with travel are manageable. The same can be said of most commercial campgrounds. We’ve taken a certain pride in choosing routes and destinations with due attention to security, knowing that we’re part of a “tribe” in which folks look out for each other.
We’re the same people (and the same dogs) we’ve always been, with the same fundamental mindset, but we’ve crafted a different life out here on the road — different, that is, than the life of constant vigilance we lived in central Ohio. Late last week we discovered that our shift in perspective had us a bit too relaxed.
After dark on Friday evening, while Deb and I were sitting at the dinette, there was a knock at Ernie’s door. That’s unusual in RV parks, generally speaking, but we’d become accustomed to our campground hosts coming to us whenever they need something.
The dogs barked an alarm. Deb grabbed ‘hold of their collars and I opened the door.
Standing outside was a rough-looking twenty-something man I’ll describe as “strung out,” asking for a phone charger. I stood in the doorway, told him we couldn’t help and asked him to move along. I watched as he staggered away toward the campground office, which was closed at that hour.
Later we learned that he’d knocked at a number of other RVs here, apparently looking for a place to spend the night. One of our fellow campers noticed that he was carrying a steak knife (but not a steak) and called the cops.
A sheriff’s deputy soon arrived and detained the guy, who also fit the description of an individual spotted earlier trying to break into the nearby Arkansas Welcome Center. He had outstanding warrants and was hauled off to the Boone County jail.
We’ve spent a whole lot of time in this campground. This was the first evidence we’d seen of criminal activity around here.
Less than 24 hours after that incident, I walked outside to find a hot mess blocking the campground entrance — a total of nine cruisers representing state, county and city agencies, plus a car they’d been chasing. The pursuit came to an end a hundred yards from where Ernie’s parked, and officers had three young miscreants in custody.
The story, as it was told to me, is that a father and his two sons had been putting up Christmas lights in a neighborhood not far from here when a small white sedan rolled up. One of the car’s occupants produced a short-barreled shotgun and fired a single round before speeding off.
The homeowner hopped in his pickup truck, gave chase and called 911. At one point the sedan pulled off the road, and once again the thuglet brandished the gun. Dad backed off, wisely, and responding officers handled things from there.
Since mid-May we’ve grown comfortable here — more comfortable, as it turns out, than we should be anywhere. We know better than to become complacent, and yet we let it happen.
That stops now.
Make no mistake — we’re still ensconced in a very good place, one of the best locales we could’ve chosen for an extended stay. The harsh reality, however, is that no place, even a good place, is a safe place. Threats exist everywhere, and threats look for soft targets.
Over the last 48 hours Deb and I have sharpened our mindset, dusted off our vigilance and tightened our security. We’ve talked through various scenarios and agreed on how we’d handle them.
We’ll be more disciplined about staying ready to defend ourselves, if need be. Yes, that’s a firearm in today’s header image — we’re armed Americans prepared to employ deadly force in self-defense, lawfully and only “in the gravest extreme.”
Deb and I also maintain less-lethal means of defense, of course, which we’d use should they be the right tools under the circumstances.
And so we’re a harder target than we were a week ago. We know we were lucky. This time our complacency didn’t cost us.
I want to wrap this post with observations about crime and culture, here in The Ozarks and elsewhere. First, the nature of humanity means that there will be bad actors in any community. The criminal element is present everywhere — no people, place, race or nation is immune from that contagion.
There’s a difference, however, between criminals and crime. If none of us can escape the presence of criminals, why do some places have less (or more) crime?
When we hear that word, it’s natural to think of penalties imposed through the criminal-justice system. That system has the ability not only to punish crimes already committed but to deter future crime.
We’ve seen what happens when the system fails to adequately and effectively detain, charge, try, sentence and incarcerate criminals. We watch lawmakers enact idiotic schemes in the name of misplaced compassion, political correctness, identity politics or ideological drunkenness.
When criminals fear the consequences, crime declines. That’s always been true. But what’s it look like when thugs can commit crime without fearing punishment? Or even apprehension?
Portland and Minneapolis with their weeks-long riots. An explosion of murders in St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus and countless other cities. California with its epidemic of “flash robs.”
There’s something else that has the potential to discourage criminals, and it comes not from the system but from the People. Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper explains:
“If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge or jury. Therefore, what he must be taught is to fear his victim.”
Armed citizens are, ideally and in truth, the first line in defense of the inalienable rights to life, Liberty, property.* Wherever the People have the means, the will and the intent to fight back against the evil that walks among us — and when criminals know that — society is polite, the community more peaceful.
It’s no coincidence that in places rife with crime against persons and property, not only has the system failed but, typically, the State has all but disarmed the citizenry. Criminals have nothing left to fear. Bad actors face zero consequences.
Here in The Ozarks, while the region isn’t crime-free (see above), the People generally don’t put up with any shit. They don’t take kindly to bad folks hurting good ones, or taking other people’s stuff, or trashing public property.*
They respect the role of law enforcement, but they also take care of their own business.
That meth-head (presumed), before he knocked on Ernie’s door Friday night, reportedly had tried to enter a residence near here. The homeowner, 12-gauge in hand, ran the intruder off.
The dad who was trimming his house for Christmas when those hoodlums pulled a shotgun drove off after them, maintaining line-of-sight contact while on the phone with the cops.
The locals are not soft targets. There are consequences.
It’s a matter of each citizen taking personal responsibility for their own safety and security. This is still Free America, after all, and we’re glad to be here.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
*The law generally permits the use of deadly force to defend yourself against death or serious bodily injury, subject to “reasonableness” and “imminence” tests. Almost nowhere in America, however, is it lawful to use deadly force merely to defend property. That statutory distinction may well contradict your state constitution’s guarantee of the “inalienable right [of] protecting property” and “the right to bear arms for…security,” but that’s the law.