Saturday, April 12, 2014

Too Much on Firearms and Self-Defense?

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      I recently came across this post at Survival UK, apparently from a guest writer, discussing his initiation into the world of prepping. He mentioned this at the beginning of his post:
A few years ago I literally stumbled upon a ‘survival site’ which obviously had its roots in the USA. I was not looking for it but I saw a link and followed it purely out of curiosity. I do not remember the name of it but it was stuffed full of ‘guns and ammo and the wild west’ which I have to say made me feel uneasy.
The foregoing made me wonder--do we, as preppers and survivalists, focus an inordinate amount of attention, training and resources on firearms and self-defense?

      Most of the "prepper/survivor" sites I visit seem to discuss gardening and food storage much more than most any other topic. For instance, several days ago when I first started writing this post, randomly picking some sites to see what are their current articles, I saw that the Apartment Prepper blog has articles about emergency lighting (candles), using 4 year-old rice, a discussion of some home remedies, and 7 cost cutting moves that will come back to bite you, tips for surviving an earthquake, and making use of fruit peels. Backwoods Homes Magazine has articles on fruit trees, water filtration, building a cistern, and the militarization of the police. Daily Survivor, an aggregator of news and tips from numerous other blogs, and has advice on prepparing for your own death--i.e., a will, life insurance, sharing important information (such as passwords) with other people, and pass you knowledge on to the next generation; and an article on hygiene following the SHTF. Em. Prep.--Getting Started, on Pinterest, mostly has links on food, health, and surviving a disaster. Everyday Foodstorage, as it name suggests, is all about food storage and recipes on what to make with that food storage. The Harried Homemaker Preps blog has an article on growing food on compost piles, attending a Mother Earth News fair, cooking an old rooster, and weaving together onions for storage. Off Grid Survival has 9 major sections (including news), of which only one pertained to weapons and self-defense--the top two sections were on "Outdoor & Gear" and "Survival." The Modern Survival Blog  starts off with an article on food storage, then moves on to articles on the decline of the dollar, how to survive a riot, risks that lead to outdoor accidents, an article on avoiding hiking mistakes, a philosophical piece, and storing SPAM (the canned meat). The Paratus Familia Blog  starts out with a bread recipe and various advice for getting ready for spring, a 2nd Amendment rally, the power of prayer and that sometimes God says "no," and making homemade soaps and scents. The Practical Prepper had several updates on construction of a residence or bug-out site, a good deal on food products, and an article on radio communications. Preparedness Mama had articles on clothing for your bug-out bag, growing onions, building a composter, and growing and using comfrey (an herb). The Suburban Prepper discussed growing evidence of the popularity of prepping, reviewed the most recent "Doomsday Preppers" show, and discussed the importance of exercise and being physically fit. Survival Blog  had articles on surviving a tornado, an introduction to prudent health and food, a primer on handgun holsters, and a guest article on carrying a concealed weapon. The Teotwawki Blog, just to be ornery I suspect, had multiple articles on handloading ammunition, and a couple more on firearms. Although Max Velocity's blog probably is better characterized as a firearms/self-defense blog, his book "Contact!" is specifically written for post-SHTF and so I included in my selection; of course, his blog is mostly about guns and combat. As for this blog, the last few days has seen an article on demographics, an ammo ban, a couple posts on gardening, a link to a firearm review, social chaos in Mexico, and potential financial problems in China.

      My impression is that self-defense or firearms are not primary or even major topics at the majority of American prepping blogs. Thus, I cannot say preppers (to the extent that the foregoing blogs are representative) spend an inordinate amount of time and effort on firearms. In fact, this article at the Survivalist Blog specifically warns against getting too many guns. Something that I have also advised against (at least as a preparation tactic--as a hobby is a different matter).

      My intention with this site has always been a mix of the theoretical or abstract (e.g., the cause of collapse, what do the scriptures have to say about the end times, what we can expect during or after a collapse, etc.) and tips and interesting things I could pass on to readers (the practical aspects). Although I recognize the need to prepare for disasters, big and small, I will admit that my attention tends to stray to the time of the tribulation and apocalypse--that is one of the reasons for naming this blog as I did.

     Through my reading of the literature--that is, news accounts, personal accounts, and the limited academic material concerning how people act following disasters and major upheaval--a few basic themes have struck me. First, notwithstanding the outright lies published by the media in the aftermath of Katrina, in a natural disaster, people tend to act peaceably, willing to assist one another, pull together into ad hoc governing and mutual assistance groups and so on. In short, a natural disaster tends to bring out the best in people. This is not to say that there won't be looting or some instances of violence. There are criminals among us, and they don't disappear because of a natural disaster. But social chaos and mass violence in the wake of an earthquake, hurricane, etc., pretty much only exists in the imaginations of the media and government elite--it is not a reality on the ground. In fact, as Katrina showed, government reaction to the imagined fear of social chaos actually makes things worse.

     On the other hand, when a state truly collapses--whether abruptly, such as the collapse of the Third Reich at the end of WWII, or even more slowly, such as the collapse of the British Empire--it is never peaceful. (See, for instance, my review of "Savage Continent" concerning Europe after WWII). The collapse of the British Empire (and other colonial empires) has played out more slowly, but the Rhodesian conflict in the 1970's, and the wars in Vietnam, are examples of the conflict that followed the demise of the various European empires.

     Even partial collapses--e.g., the financial or economic collapse or decline--can be tumultuous, as Argentina and Venezuela have shown. Increased crime, riots, death squads, etc., follow in the wake of slow motion collapse.

     In short, if you are prepared for day-to-day self-defense, you are probably prepared for the limited violence you might see following a natural disaster. If you anticipate something more, something worse--i.e., the collapse of a state--then detailed discussions of firearms and tactics are fully justified.

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