We should probably put mikeb302000 on retainer since he seems to stimulate so many of my posts. And this is one reason I love hearing contrary viewpoints; they allow us to refine our arguments, see errors in our logic and stimulate new ideas. The latest comment that mike (and I hope he doesn’t mind my calling him just mike rather than his whole handle) made that inspired me was…
I would like to comment on one little thing though, one which appears in the early paragraphs of the opus, and that is your health. You’re not yet 50 and have undergone open-heart surgery? Is that partly related to your eating habits? Was there some excess smoking and drinking in there too? Have you slacked off on the exercise over these last couple decades?
Sorry for getting so personal, but don’t you think those are more important factors in your survival than the guns? Isn’t it a mistake to neglect the one and focus so excessively on the other?
My quick and dirty reply was: “… of COURSE there are many factors that are FAR more important than guns when it comes to survival. Sheesh.” And indeed, health is on of those factors. I believe it was Robert Heinlein who talked about some of those issues in an essay 30+ years ago (although he was speaking about post-Nuclear War survival). I am assuming that mike is not talking about TEOTWAWKI-style survival but rather more day-to-day issues, so I’ll address those first (in no particular order).
Yes, indeed, daily exercise is vital, not just when it comes to survival but for every day living as well. Exercise has been shown to increase energy, improve health and mental function and increase libido. When it comes to survival, if you are relatively fit when a SHTF situation arises you have the option to run away. And if you can’t run away, being relatively fit makes you better able to handle the stress before, during and after a DGU.
Situational awareness is, of course, another important element to survival. Being able to shoot the eye of a gnat at a hundred paces does you no good if a BG is burping down your throat before you notice him. And situational awareness does not mean “treat everyone like a potential threat.” What it does mean is being aware of your surroundings so if a potential threat presents itself, you have the most time possible to deal with or avoid the problem.
My best friend was a NYC cop for 25+ years. I was visiting him in New York a while back and we went out to dinner with the wives. Even though I was unarmed, I was still trying to maintain good situational awareness when I noticed him looking at me funny. I lifted an inquiring eyebrow and he said “When did you learn to read the street?” He’d been doing the exact same thing (but better, because he’s had lots more experience than me) and caught me at it. I explained the Cooper Color Code and he said it sounded like a good idea.
Then we started wrangling about “civilians” carrying guns until the wives made us stop long enough to eat. Over dinner he told cop stories about times when situational awareness (except he called it “reading the street”) had or had not been used properly. He was certain that being aware had saved his ass (or possibly his life) on at least one occasion. He also commended me on trying to maintain awareness, pointing out that it is probably even more important to be oblivion-free when disarmed.
Another important aspect of survival is what the Rabbi (maybe? I’m actually not sure who says it and I’m too lazy to check) is always saying: avoid stupid people, doing stupid things in stupid places. Don’t close down a bar with a couple of new-found “friends.” Hell it’s probably best not to close down a bar period. Avoid large numbers of drunken revelers which means stay home on New Year’s Eve, Saint Patrick’s Day, post-game tailgate parties in the stadium parking lot, etc. Avoid staying late at the Wisconsin State Fair and other crowded venues.
Listen to your fears. This hearkens back to situational awareness but is more on the subtle side. How many times have you heard victims of an attack saying “I felt something wasn’t right but I didn’t want to” leave the Laundromat/not get on the elevator/cross the street, because it would be rude or hurt someone’s feelings, or make someone believe they were racist?
Walking through a parking garage one evening, I saw a group of teens headed vaguely in my direction, so I changed direction slightly to avoid them. They changed direction so they would pass me. I changed direction again and so did they. This, coupled with all kinds of other cues (none of which I processed consciously at the time), led me to put my hand in my shirt (shoulder-holster) and tell them “I’d appreciate it if you stayed away. You’re making me nervous and I have a gun.”
They didn’t veer off until I got to the “I have a gun” bit, which makes me think my instincts were correct. I never threatened them, I didn’t display my weapon, I just asked them to stay away. If they were an innocent bunch of friends going home from a movie, I may have insulted and probably scared them. If they were predators looking for prey, I may have saved several lives.
And that brings me to the last bit of mike’s statement: “Isn’t it a mistake to neglect the one and focus so excessively on the other?” I don’t actually focus all that much on my guns other than to make sure they are kept in good working order and taking them out to the range (or woods) periodically. What I do focus on (perhaps excessively – I’m a tad OCD) is civil rights in general and gun rights in particular.
The reason that I argue and work in support of gun rights is that all the good health, situational awareness, stupidity avoidance and listening to your fears in the world won’t do a damned thing for you if that group of teens coming across the parking garage know that you can’t have a gun on you because it’s illegal.
This may be beyond the scope of TTAG, but I’m just gonna throw it out anyway. I have (I hope) addressed the day-to-day survival stuff, so what about longer-term but not TEOTWAWKI survival? Think post-Katrina New Orleans, or post-Katrina New Brighton MN, for that matter. Just a few days after Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast, we had a bit of a storm come through New Brighton and knock out the power. No biggie, right? I mean they’ll have it back shortly, right?
Except that 90% of the power company’s people and equipment were 1200 miles south, so we were without power for 6 days. Fortunately, I worked at a local hardware store and was able to grab the last generator they had in stock, which meant our two freezers full of food didn’t rot.
That Christmas the number one item on my wish list was pressure-canning equipment. I now have eight person-months worth of food canned up and a couple of water barrels hooked in series with my hot-water heater. This serves 2 purposes; first the water coming into the house is somewhat pre-warmed, saving energy when heating it and second, water is constantly flowing through the barrels so it’s always fresh. But with the turn of three valves, it’s isolated from the municipal water supply.
So while I have guns, they really are less important than the food/water/shelter thing. But having the guns means that if we ever do wind up in a NOLA-style post-Katrina type FUBAR situation, my wife and I will be perfectly capable of sitting it out at home without worrying excessively about looters.
Now for the fun, speculative bit: TEOTWAWKI has arrived so it’s too late now. But if you had the chance, what sort of survival preparations would you make? IMNSHO guns are one of the least important factors in the survival equation under these circumstances. Do you have a bug-out plan? Will your uncle Steve really be perfectly happy to feed you and your squalling brats if you show up on the door-step of his farmhouse? Do you know what items you’ll need to pack? Do you have a route picked out? How about a secondary route? A tertiary route? Do you know how to fix and maintain your car? Do you know how to ride a horse? A bike? A motorcycle? Paddle a canoe? Sail a boat?
Do you have extra doses of all of your medications? Is your dental work up to date (remember Tom Hanks’ improvised root canal in Castaway)? If you stay at home, do you have water? Soap? Matches? Feminine products (which, BTW, can be used as field bandages)? Can you deliver a baby? Suture a cut? Recognize blood poisoning (septicemia)? Treat an infection? Lance a boil? Can you diagnose appendicitis? Do you know what to do if someone has appendicitis?
Do you know the rule of three? Have you applied it?
Are you planning on hunting for your food (along with everyone else)? Do you know how to dress and butcher a deer, a rabbit, a squirrel, a horse, a dog? Can you recognize the symptoms of chronic wasting disease? How about tularemia?
OK, that’s a lot to consider. The bottom line, though, is that no matter what Rambo-esque fantasies antis think we entertain, serious preppers know that the ideal way to survive is not to be noticed. Which is sort of spoiled by flashes and loud banging noises coming from your hidey-hole.