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In a historic — and controversial — 5 to 4 decision, on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated that owning a gun is an individual’s right. While some local communities are already trying to find ways to get around the ruling, gun advocates are declaring the ruling a victory for those who choose to use guns to defend themselves and their property.
Guns are one way to defend your property, but they’re hardly the least expensive or most efficient way.
Before you buy what could be a costly, dangerous and potentially illegal solution to a home security problem, be sure you’re first using these six bullet-free, low-cost ways to protect yourself, your home and your possessions.
1. Play hard to get
Make sure you lock your home’s doors and windows at all times. That goes for your car, too. A surprising number of people forget to lock up. This gives a thief quick and easy access to your valuables, especially to small items they can just pocket. Sometimes thieves will walk into unlocked homes – even with the homeowner in another room — after spotting jewelry, cash or other valuables left in plain sight.
2. Be vigilant
Be aware of who is watching you. Many thieves will follow their prey after they have been to a shopping center or even just to a neighborhood grocery store. Harried moms with young children are particular targets. So are people who have just bought “hot” items, like iPhones. Thieves in the Miami area, for example, recently targeted shoppers after they bought laptops at a computer store.
3. Adopt help
Use Man’s Best Friend to help guard your home. Even little dogs can have a big bark and scare off intruders. Thieves often knock loudly to see if homes are empty. If no person – or dog – responds, they break in. Very inexpensive dogs are waiting for you at your local animal shelter. While it may be hard to argue that a dog is cheaper than a gun over the long run, most people would agree that a dog is a lot friendlier and more fun to have around.
4. Enlist mother nature
Landscape your home. Make windows hard to crawl through by planting prickly bushes underneath them. Light your house outside at night and regularly mow so thieves won’t think they are entering an abandoned house – a very common occurrence these days.
5. Meet the neighbors
Know your neighbors and start a neighborhood watch to help stop crime. When everyone’s keeping an eye out for everyone else, the odds of being broken into drop dramatically for all.
6. Be prepared
Learn how to protect yourself. Women especially should take the time to learn basic self-defense and have inexpensive and non-lethal weapons at hand to help. Pepper spray can deter. So can loud screaming that distracts would-be criminals and attracts people to help you.
7. Be deceitful
Burglars don’t mind stealing your stuff; you shouldn’t mind lying to them. Hang a “Beware of Dog” sign on your fence. Put a security company’s decal on your window or sign in your yard.
If you use all of the techniques highlighted here, odds are you’ll never need a gun to protect your property. If you use none of them, odds are one day your gun will be just another thing to add to that list of stolen items you’re sending to the insurance company.