Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
One of the many adages of the prepper world is, “If you can’t defend it, you don’t own it.”
If you’re new to the preparedness lifestyle, this saying basically means that all of your supplies, your stockpiles, your carefully selected buckets of food, and the time and money you spent on preparation will be for naught if you can’t protect it against those who may seek to take it from you. This is generally accepted as a truth in the prepper community. Most of us believe that we must be prepared to defend ourselves and our property without relying on any type of “authorities” to protect us.
To me, preppers and guns go together like peas and carrots.I strongly believe that firearms are a necessary part of a home defense plan. So imagine my surprise when I got a negative response to a meme I posted shortly after the massacre in Paris a few years back.
As it turns out, there are quite a few people in the lifestyle that actually do not believe in having firearms. Here are some of the comments that followed the meme, as well as comments from another discussion opened on the topic.
- I respectfully disagree. That is what has fueled this situation already.
- Only a coward thinks that everyone should be armed.
- Oh. What a shame that you posted this – and I enjoyed your page. Bail!
- I do not trust my fellow citizens to know how to safely take out a bomber without also potentially killing my loved ones! Do you want that bloodshed on your hands?
Despite the noisy refrain of people begging for gun control, despite that ridiculous and misleading “mass shootings map” (more on that HERE), I haven’t changed my stance one bit. In fact, it just solidifies my belief that we need to be prepared at all times to protect our families. People murdered in San Bernadino by a mass shooter were at an office Christmas party when things went down, not a place one would normally expect to need to be armed. This said to me that there are no places that are immune to danger. In fact, “gun free zones” are seen as “target-rich environments” for mass shooters: statistics show that 94% of mass shootings since the 1950s have taken place in gun-free zones.
You have the inherent human right to protect your own life and the lives of others.
Social unrest just underlines this more.
Since I originally wrote this article back in 2015, the United States has had multiple episodes of civil unrest, and none so bad and widespread as the one we’re enduring in 2020, after the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. There are protests ongoing in every major city in America and these have spread even to the small, outlying towns. (Never let it be said it can’t happen where you are.)
Minneapolis itself looks like a war zone. It literally looks like the ruined base that Selco and Toby took us to for training in the Croatia survival course. Watch this video to see the massive scale of the damage done to this city and the fires burning unchecked. (You don’t need to be logged in to see it.) Now, this very same city wants to disband the police department. Imagine living there, with people who’ve expressed this kind of rage. Imagine being there unarmed. Nobody is coming when you dial 911 during situations like this. (For more information about surviving situations like these, go here.)
As the situation in the United States continues to escalate, more people join protests and riots, and more cities call for the complete defunding of police departments, this scene is not going to be unique.
But not everyone believes preppers need guns
I understand not having a firearm if you live in a place where they are not available. (I spent 18 years in Canada and was unable to arm myself there.) But when you’re blessed to be in a place with access to the tools you need to keep your family safe, it seems like just another prep to me.
But obviously not everyone feels this way. Check out this lady who was on an episode of Doomsday Preppers.
Hat tip to Erica from Living Life in Rural Iowa for the link to this video
The thing that I believe it’s important to remember here is that if you have stacked your supplies to the rafters but refused to plan for defending your home and family, you’ve basically just made them bait should a desperate situation arise.
Here are some reasons why preppers need to be armed.
Reason #1: Those who are desperate, unprepared, and feel entitled to be cared for
Remember Black Friday? People climbed all over each other for cheap electronics. Fistfights erupted over vegetable steamers. People were ready to throw down and do battle for sale items.
I’d hazard a guess that folks who spend time and money fighting over electronics are not the kind of people who prep. That means that these are the people who will be hungry in a long-term disaster. Look at those people, stampeding to get to a sale on things that they don’t actually need to survive. Their inhibitions are loosened because those around them are behaving in the same way.
You have to look at the psychology of this. People can justify pretty much anything when they or their children are starving. And I can understand that to a large degree – who could stand to watch their babies suffering? But if someone can devolve to the above degree just to because everyone else is doing it, the chaos we saw above is only a tiny sample of what could come if people were truly hungry. (Check out Selco’s article about mob mentality for more information on this mindset.)
Do you really feel like you could prepare them one meal and they’d go away politely? Do you really think that reason and a polite but firm conversation will be sufficient to make them go away? It only takes one person to start the charge against you in a tense scenario, and when that happens, unless you take swift and shocking action, the others will follow, and your retreat will be overcome. Sort of like when the walkers overtook the prison after the fence got knocked down on The Walking Dead.
While the best plan of all is not to be there when the masses come knocking at your door, you don’t always have a warning. You’re going to want to be prepared with force equalizers – guns.
Reason #2: Those who are planning to take the supplies of others
But wait, there’s something even worse out there than the hungry unprepared.
There are the folks who have built an entire preparedness plan around taking the things that other preppers have stored. Remember this guy from another episode of Doomsday Preppers?
If you aren’t ready for people like this, your survival retreat is a soft, easy target. These people are not nice and not desperate. Their entire survival plan hinges on taking what someone else has amassed using superior force. This yahoo (who was subsequently arrested after his appearance on Doomsday Preppers) blatantly explains his plan, and I can guarantee that he is not alone. He’s just the one dumb enough to announce it on national television.
These are the types of people who are only careful about breaking the law because they don’t want to be caught. If a situation arises in which being caught and thrown in prison is unlikely, it will be a free-for-all. (Selco talks more about people like this in his book, Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival.) Morals and ethics won’t stop them, because they don’t have any. The only thing capable of stopping people like that is people who are able and ready to defend their homes
Reason #3: Those who loot and pillage because, doggone it, they like it
Finally, there are those who simply enjoy the mayhem.
Some people are just waiting for the opportunity to behave in this fashion. They enjoy destroying things and venting their anger on any person who has “more” than they do. They’d love to act like that every single day, but they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But when a verdict gets rolled out, when a storm takes out the power, when a disaster strikes, when peaceful protests are going on over a perceived injustice, they delight in the chance to rob, pillage, loot, and burn. Who can forget the day before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast when thugs were coordinating looting rampages via Twitter?
Here’s the scene in Ferguson, Missouri. These are definitely not folks out fulfilling needs.
I remember learning about “sublimation” in a high school psychology class.
Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways. (source)
If you believe Freud’s theory, then it’s easy to see that many people look for an excuse to revert to their true natures. In a situation where “everyone” is doing something, they are able to cast off their normal control of their impulses without much fear of reprisal. The number of looters and thugs far outstrips the number of arrests going on in Baltimore, so there’s a very good chance that someone swept up in that mentality can go burn somebody else’s home or business and completely get away with it.
These are the people who burned down their own neighborhoods after the verdict in Ferguson. And what businesses were left untouched? The ones for which the owners stood out front, armed, to defend their property. This has happened again and again, most recently in Minneapolis.
When all hell is breaking loose, you cannot rely on 911.
You owe it to your family to be ready to protect them.
What if the world as we know it ended? What if there wasn’t food in the grocery stores? What if there was no longer any such thing as EBT, for those who relied on government assistance to acquire food? What if the police and military finally threw their hands up in the air, gave up, and went home to protect their own families? What if cities just get rid of the cops altogether? Who’s going to keep your family safe then?
You have to realize that at any point in time, you could find yourself on your own, without backup from 911.
Whether civil unrest is right outside your door.
Whether a group of thugs decides to invade your home to rob and/or terrorize you.
Whether the world we know goes down, via an EMP that takes out the grid, civil war, economic collapse, or a breakdown in the national transportation network.
The only person you can rely on to protect your family is yourself.
You can stockpile until you have a decade of supplies put back, but if you can’t defend it, you don’t actually own it. You only have it because no one has bothered taking it away from you yet. You have what you have based on the goodwill of others, who are stronger, greater in number, and better armed.
Take a long hard look at the threats you face during civil unrest, and get prepared. While we always recommend, purely from a survival standpoint, not being present during times of unrest, we also know there are situations in which there are no options. Wherever you live, whatever your situation, you need to plan as though 911 does not exist. Whether riots are occurring in the streets or not, in the seconds during which the lives of your family hang in the balance, you are completely on your own.
In some situations, it won’t stop with the destruction of your property. You may have to defend your home. And for this, you MUST BE ARMED.
People will tell you that they’ve survived riots or unrest and never had to have a gun or shoot anyone.
And do you know what?
Chances are, you won’t have to unholster your weapon. I know that when I defended my homestead and my daughter against wannabe criminals, I never even had to point my gun at them – the fact I had it and was determined to use it was enough of a deterrent.
But this is a plan based on pure luck and the goodwill of others. Survival favors the prepared. I do not base my preparations for my family on the hope for good luck and nice people.
Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.
You are your own first responder.
If the situation does escalate and the lives of you and your loved ones are in danger, there is no substitute for meeting force with force. You may not wish to engage, but sometimes there’s no time to escape. Sometimes there’s no place to escape to. In these situations, you won’t be able to talk your way out of it, hide from it, or throw dishes at the intruders to fight them off.
When you need help in seconds, the police are only minutes away. By the time they arrive during a collapse scenario, your family will be dead, raped, or kidnapped, and your supplies will be long gone. And that’s if they arrive at all. And that’s also dependent on whether or not the few people remaining in uniform are actually committed to maintaining order.
If you plan to survive a scenario of civil unrest or a Mad Max society meltdown, you are going to have to accept that preppers need guns. This doesn’t mean that you want to hurt someone. It means that you intend to keep your loved ones safe by any means necessary.
Here are a few tips to prepare a home defense plan.
First things first: if you’re new to firearms, I strongly recommend professional instruction and lots of practice. There is no substitute for learning to use your weapon safely and accurately.
Your plan has to be unique to your situation. Be sure when making your plan to take into consideration things like: the layout of your property, your family, and their skill sets, your comfort with firearms, your neighbors – the list of variables goes on and on
Here are some specifics to help you begin planning.
Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all. You have to spend time at the range. It’s a must. During a stressful, frightening situation, you will be relying on muscle memory, so make sure the muscles are well trained. I’m not a firearms instructor, so I can’t recommend “the best gun” for preppers. The guns I chose for my rural property aren’t necessarily the same ones I chose when I lived in Suburbia. Every situation is different, and your firearm choice should reflect that. (Here’s some advice from someone who knows a lot more about weapons than I do to help you with that decision.)
Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.
Spend time making a plan unique to your situation. You need to prepare your battlespace and make plans for defending it. Those plans will be different based on your experience and that of people in your family or group. For example, a family of preppers in the suburbs would most likely have a very different plan than a group of former military guys protecting a compound.
Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you-you must be prepared to save yourself. First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some officers joined in the crime sprees, and others stomped all over the 2nd Amendment and confiscated people’s legal firearms at a time when they needed them the most.
Be armed and keep your firearm on your person. When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea. Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gun safe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.
Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape. This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all-clear or help has arrived. You can learn more about building a safe room HERE. Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.
Plan an escape route. If the odds are against you, devise a way to get your family to safety. Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to know if you’re getting into a fight that you can’t win.
Let me repeat that it’s always best not to be in the thick of things. But if the fight comes to you and there’s no way to de-escalate it, then fight you must.
Civilization is just a veneer.
So many times, when interviewed after a disaster, people talk about being “shocked” at the behavior of others. Their level of cognitive dissonance has lulled them into thinking that we’re safe and that we live in a civilized country. They are unwilling to accept that civilization is only a glossy veneer, even when the evidence of that is right in front of them, aiming a gun at their faces, lighting their homes on fire, or raping their daughters.
They refuse to arm themselves and prepare for an uncivilized future.
Accept it now, and you’ll be a lot better off when the SHTF.
Do you have some specific advice for those making a home protection plan? Any thoughts on the use of firearms in that plan? Any plans not to have firearms? Let’s talk about it. Please share your suggestions in the comments below.