A common concern with anarchism is this: without a government-run police force, how can we stay safe? First, reconsider your ideas of what the police force’s job is, because they may not provide the safety that you think they do. The police rarely stop violent criminals in the act, only investigating and arresting suspects after the damage is done. Less than half of violent crimes in the United States result in an arrest, and less than 19% of property crimes (e.g. robbery, burglary, vehicle theft) result in an arrest, as reported by the FBI.
Building your own safety net isn’t paranoia like some people might have you think; you probably wear a seat belt in the car or have a fire extinguisher in your house, not because you intend to use them, but because the possibility is there. Here are some ways you can keep yourself safe:
Avoid high-risk behaviors and areas: One of the most important things you can do for the well-being of yourself and those around you is to avoid high-risk behaviors and areas. Avoiding danger in the first place makes it unnecessary to have to use physical force in defense. So what constitutes a “high-risk behavior” or “high-risk area”? You’ll have to use common sense on this one as it can depend on your situation. Some examples include associating with people who are prone to cause trouble or get in fights, traveling in neighborhoods with high crime rates, traveling at night in places with low traffic or low lighting, or attending events that have been known to erupt into violence.
Secure your home: There are many ways to secure your home, and combining your options will only increase your safety. The simplest measure is to have good locks and deadbolts for your doors, and make sure to lock them when you’re not expecting anyone to go in or out, especially at night. Some other measures you can take are placing motion-activated floodlights outside your home, installing an alarm system, and keeping a dog; you’ll have to decide on what’s right for your own situation.
Even if you consider your neighborhood a safe place, it’s still a good idea to secure your home to keep a safety net.
Learn self defense: Should you find yourself unavoidably in a potentially violent situation, try to de-escalate whenever possible. Don’t be confrontational; don’t try to push anyone’s buttons or be “witty”. If you’re being robbed, perhaps it is best to just hand over your wallet if it gets everyone out safely; however, this assumes that your assailant will just go away after being given the wallet or whatever it is he wants. Situations like that are completely up to your own judgement whether it’s best to give the assailant what he wants or to forcibly defend yourself.
It’s always best to avoid harming another person, but if you’re unable to avoid or escape the danger, there is nothing wrong with using force to defend yourself. If you choose to fight, a firearm, combined with the training and experience to use it effectively is invaluable. A small pistol can be easily kept on your person when away from home. There is plenty of debate as to what kind of firearm is best for self defense in the home; some argue for handguns, citing the maneuverability in tight quarters; others recommend a rifle or shotgun for the stopping power. If you’re uncomfortable with firearms, you might keep a non-lethal weapon like pepper spray or a stun gun/Taser.
These points are important in today’s society just as much as in a stateless one. The police are unable to know when you are in danger, and they cannot magically appear to help the moment you’re in trouble. Police can give a false sense of security to many people, and may even cause them to put themselves in more danger. We can only theorize, but in a stateless society, there may even be a market for private security forces similar to police that you would be able to hire to keep you safe. Regardless, now or in the future, it’s just common sense to take your safety into your own hands.