As you probably read in my posts, I consider weapons useful in improving personal safety. But training and carrying weapons doesn’t guarantee safety — a handgun isn’t armor. Due to the expense and the inconvenience, few of us wear body armor. Similarly, most of us do not harden our homes for improved resistance to small arms fire or arson.
What’s better than winning a gunfight against a mugger? Not getting mugged in the first place. The best chance to avoid such a calamity is to avoid bad neighborhoods (with high incidence of violent crime), to avoid high-risk jobs (such as working night shift at a convenience store) and other exposure to violent criminal actors. In short, having a good, well-paying job improves safety by reducing your overlap with criminals. A pediatrician simply doesn’t run into gangbangers on a regular basis. A taxi driver or a store clerk does.
What allows a person to get a better job, besides good personality and diligence? Skills. Knowing a second language can be enough to get a good job. Taking more than basic math and science courses also helps. Mastering enough different software to be able to learn more by analogy helps a lot. While making direct comparisons is difficult, it’s quite possible that learning two additional languages would provide extra earning potential equivalent in its safety effect to carrying a gun. Taking that calculus class and chasing it with AP physics might add up to more protection than a level IIA bullet proof vest.
Learning is also the best hedge against looters of the government kind. We might not be able to take real estate or furniture with us when moving or running away from an inhospitable environment, but we can take the skills and the knowledge along. In the grand scheme of things, conventional weapons are for emergencies — cases like the Soviet Union or North Korea where peaceable escape was impossible. In more moderate countries, guns are an adjunct to learning. Knowledge and the ability to apply it for the benefit of others is what makes us safe on a daily basis. The resources obtained by such knowledge and the security provided by those resources are the real reason why being well to do is valued — it has less to do with the mythical greed and more with keeping self and family safe and secure.