At the conclusion of a recent Kingstree Town Council meeting councilwoman Monica Murdaugh addressed a growing threat that is targeting the saftey of its citizens. As a Town Council member, Ms. Murdaugh is fully aware of the increase in crime rates. And the police incident reports are reflecting a disturbing trend - a rise in purse snatchings and home invasions.
Odds are you know someone who has been a victim of a home invasion. I am willing to bet so do Ms. Murdaugh and her fellow Council members. On numerous occasions, they have heard from concerned citizens who were searching for answers to the growing threat against their personal safety. Ms. Murdaugh recalled a recent incident that occurred within the city.
A woman was walking on a sidewalk in broad daylight when several young persons bent on stealing her purse accosted her. Rather than give up her property, the woman fought back. Her bold action against her perpetrators was probably brought on by a need to defend herself, rather than to protect her belongings but in any event, she stood up to her attackers and won. A word of caution - a scenario such as this can turn violent with the table being turned on the victim.
I sincerely believe the men and women sworn to protect us work hard at combating the criminal element, nevertheless it seems they are fighting a losing battle. The city police, as well as county deputies are constantly engaged in an unpredictable game of hide and seek. If law enforcement shows a force in a particular community, the criminal activity simply moves on to another and the pattern is repeated.
And lets not ignore the fact that we are living in an era where budget cuts have forced police departments across the country to thin their divisions down to the bare minimum - a welcome sign in the landscape of rising crime.
So, what can a citizen do to protect himself or herself? Instead of complaining, Ms. Murdaugh is tackling crime. She is currently working with Police Chief Robert Ford to organize a women's self defense class in April. She also asked the chief to coordinate a ladies concealed weapons class.
As crime continues to escalate, the number of women taking the legal steps to possess a firearm is also growing. I have a concealed weapons permit. However, being in possession of a firearm is nothing to be taken lightly. Receiving a permit does not give a citizen carte blanche to shoot the 'bad guy" thereby circumventing the justice system. Deadly force should never be considered unless one's life is truly in danger.
That said - lets not misconstrue the councilwoman's intent. I don't see her as a vigilante or on a mission to turn Kingstree into a Dodge City. I see her as the embodiment of a rising consortium pushed to the limit and tired of living in fear. As Americans, we have the right to keep and bear arms under the protection of the Second Amendment.
I am fully aware that our court system is not perfect and justice will not always prevail in favor of the victim. I applaud Ms. Murdaugh for being proactive, rather than reactive in her efforts to make our communities a safer place to live.