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No man is an island, replete within himself. Intellectually, I would have thought that TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia would have been there, Dunne that. But apparently you guys don’t play well with others. Judging from Jon Boch’s post Why Farago (and You) Shouldn’t Depend on Neighbors When the SHTF and the comments underneath, Mr. Finn and I are the only gun guys who thinks it’s a good idea to arm local newbies when the going gets rough. In my defense—and the defense of others—I offer the following clarification . . .

As our man Martin Albright has suggested, odds are that any S H’ing The F situation will be either fast-arriving and temporary, or slow-burning and anticipatable. (Really? That’s a word?) Either it’ll be a natural disaster/riot/terrorist attack, or something chronic like a collapsed economy or a nuclear oopsie (one thermonuclear device can ruin your whole home defense plan).

In the first case, you’ve got to ask yourself a simple question: do you feel defensible? Well, do ya punk? The problem with houses is that they have all these non-bunker-like openings (civilians call them doors and windows). I don’t think I’m giving too much away to the ATF’s SRT squad when I tell you I’ve got 17 potential entry points on the ground floor alone.

If I was trying to defend my domicile against hostiles, I’ve got a large number of weapons and plenty of ammo. What I don’t have is manpower. There’s me and the Mrs., some gun-aversive children and couple of extremely loud Schnauzers. The Mrs. and I would have to defend nine entry points each. If I had to leave and re-enter my house in a riotous world, say, to get food or water, my impregnable fortress would be in a family way in a big hurry.

Clearly, obviously, there’s strength and safety in numbers. If a dozen or so of my neighbors and I band together for our mutual defense, we can defend any given house from four main directions. As long as there’s enough food to keep us from eating each other and enough water to keep the kids from falling into soda-caused sugar shock, we’ll all have a better chance of survival in one collective location than we would hiding in our individual closets.

But OMG a number of my nosy neighbors might need to use firearms! And people who’ve never fired a gun SUCK at firing a gun. They flinch! They miss! They shoot each other! So . . . what?

Most gun owners are completely useless shooting a firearm. Can’t hit squat. Under pressure? Fuhgeddaboutit. No surprise there. The average gun owner fires their defensive weapon only slightly more often than they practice shooting and moving (i.e. never). And yet, somehow, they don’t kill anyone. OK,  a few do. But then again, too few to mention.

As much as we like to think of ourselves as samurai gun slingers, it really doesn’t take a lot of brain power to master the art of shooting something (i.e. someone) with a gun. The average yutz is more than capable of understanding what a gun does, and how that trigger thing comes into play. Loading? Grip? Aim? Not so much. But some. Enough so that I’d rather have them manning the ramparts than not.

As you’re reading this post—reading!—I’m going to assume that you live in a neighborhood where the people living nearby also know how to read. (Try and find a single book in MTV Cribs.) So your neighbors probably have above average skills in the listening to instructions and doing what they were told department. Why I bet they could learn to load and fire a gun in two minutes! Not well. But maybe well enough for what needs to be done if looters are roaming the ‘hood.

Would I trust my neighbors with a gun? Not unless I had to. But if I had to I surely would. Because me and my homies share common values (i.e. enemies). My peeps would only shoot me or mine by accident. Accidents happen, but then we’re talking about life during wartime. In that S h’ing The F circumstance, NDs are, at least in theory, the least of your problems.

Now, as for the firearms sharing and caring during longer term chronic S, that’s another story. In a slow-moving apocalypse, you have time to form and train local militias. Not to coin a phrase, but the people who are training their team right now may be way too preemptive. And, as Mr. Finn pointed out, military skills are not the be-all, end-all for group survival.

That doesn’t change my basic stance on newbie instruction. Even if we are talking about easing people into firearms expertise, it’s a good idea to make gun-handling as simple and immediately rewarding as humanly possible, and then graduate to more difficult options (weapon systems, strategy, tactics, etc.). Or, if not, not.

I understand that giving a gun to a newbie runs counter to everything most gun enthusiasts believe about marksmanship, tactical survival and firearms safety. But when the S hits the F, it’s no time to get prissy about your friends’ firearms skills. Because it’s entirely likely you’re going to need lots of ’em. Friends, that is. Guns you already have.

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  1. Honestly, in all but the slightest of S H’ing the F, every one of my neighbors are getting put down.

    Nothing against them personally – hell, I don’t even know any of them. I just won’t need the competition for whatever scarce resources there are left.

    • James,
      I hope I am confused, but reading this I see you as part of the problem, not part of the solution. There is a big difference between defending resources that are already yours, and using your armory as way to obtain resources that belong to others.
      When the SHTF, decent folks are going to need band together to fend off the golden hoard. If your survival plan is to take what you need (eliminate competition), you are a bigger threat than those who are too stupid to prepare. Bigger threat, bigger target. You’ll get what you deserve especially if you come to my neighborhood…

  2. The folks you have to worry about won’t be wearing creepy masks and pushing along a gutterally fuming decrepit old rig like the marauders in the Road.
    They’ll either intentionally appear to be harmless until the fangs come out, or they’ll be normal folk only intending to ask/beg for some sustenance items, until they become vicious dogs when they catch scent of a well-stocked larder.
    The best “immunization” against this is working with your neighbors ahead of time, buying supplies together in bulk and agreeing to help/defend each other if times turn bad.
    But all in all, I think the biggest challenge will be sorting “friend from foe from neutral” without making “kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out” the modus operandi.

  3. “Would I trust my neighbors with a gun? Not unless I had to. But if I had to I surely would. ”

    Exactly. If you have a platoon of firearms proficient people waiting by their red telephones to answer the distress call, then by all means keep firearms related duties in their hands. But, odds are unless you’re reading this from the Hindu Kush or a doomsday cult’s compound in the woods, you don’t have that luxury.

    If you are surrounded and are being attacked from all sides, you will need all the help you can get. I sincerely hope no one here is going to refuse to hand a gun to their liberal, hemp wearing vegan neighbor who offers to help defend the “castle” when it’s do or die time; because none of us are Sgt. York, Rambo or James Friggin Bond and to overestimate your abilities as such is extremely dangerous to the survival of your family.

  4. I wonder what kind of training the Korean grocers had? I suspect that every single one of them who came over as an adult had served in the military, don’t know about the younger generation.

  5. Robert, I’ve been reading these recent posts about when the SHTF and I can’t keep silent any longer. I think it’s since you got that damned concealed carry license, you’ve gone completely off the deep end. It was bad enough when you used to talk about home invasions and muggings, but this new thing, TSHTF, is really over the top.

    I’m a bit older than you, at least by the look of you, so I wouldn’t expect you to remember the late 50s and early 60s bomb shelter craze that swept the country during the declining years of the Cold War. I was one of those Catholic School kids who was trained to get under his desk and pray Hail Marys when the Russians attacked. We practiced it. You and your friends on these recent posts make those days seem pretty normal.

    “Either it’ll be a natural disaster/riot/terrorist attack, or something chronic like a collapsed economy or a nuclear oopsie.”

    My advice? In addition to the masked home invaders who work in teams, the random muggings and drive by shooters who could strike anywhere anytime, the upcoming SHTF (22% say this year), please don’t get caught with your pants down when the meteorites or asteroids strike.

    • So Mike you’re saying that you’ve never contemplated what, if anything, you would do on the off chance that an end of rationale society situation presents itself?

      Everyone who is even the least bit prepared for that eventuality has gone off the deep end or you just trying to provoke Farago with your comments?

    • Mike,
      I too underwent the 1960’s “get under the desk and point your a$$ toward the window” drill. And by golly, the Soviets never dropped the big one…
      I also saw what happened during the LA riots, Katrina, and 9/11… Today I get to watch the SHTF in the Middle-East (live in high-definition no less – almost like being there). I know the value of beans and bullets. If you don’t, then you will be part of the problem when the SHTF in your part of the world.

  6. My SHTF situation is a serious flood or hurricane, which happens from time to time in low-lying areas surrounded by open seas. Or so I’ve heard. If you live in Rome, think Katrina if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t expect to use a firearm to punch holes in the onrushing waves. If I had to use my guns in an emergency, I’d rather arm Farago’s Schnauzers than my neighbors. At least the doggies would be loyal and can follow instructions. I have turned noobs into safe shooters in four hours, but not a couple of minutes. And frankly, I’d trust an angry sea before I’d trust the self-important ijits next door.

  7. Because it’s entirely likely you’re going to need lots of ‘em. Friends, that is.

    What’s this “friends” thing I keep hearing about?

  8. I love the SHTF topic because at its extreme (rather large) margin, it is basically indistinguishable from the Rapture hype. People insist on feeling like their lives have some meaning or higher purpose that extends well beyond their otherwise mediocre lives, so they focus on the possibility that one day, something substantial will happen. Realistically, nothing will ever happen and most of this extreme prepping will never be anything more than a hobby.

    What’s my idea of a realistic SHTF? A situation that might last about a week, due to a natural disaster (e.g. Washington DC extreme snow storm about a year ago), in which people are put far beyond easy access to law enforcement and supplies. The disruption will last for the duration of the disaster and, if it was a substantial Katrina-like disaster, maybe for a bit longer. The SHTF scenario will be localized and will be unlikely to engulf the nation, like many of these “preppers” would have you believe. Face it – short of the Rage virus breaking out or a wholesale civil war occurring – neither of which are ever likely to happen here, much of the “prepping” is little more than a harmless, although expensive and perhaps somewhat paranoia inducing, hobby.

  9. I love my neighbors and they love me (my lil sister says it’s more likely that they fear me) and I’m sure we will all play well together when the SHTF. When anarchy hits your neighborhood, you just need to eliminate the trouble makers and having your own well regulated militia can’t hurt.

  10. Well, I hope Jeff is right and that the worst case SHTF scenario is localized and short lived. However, I would point out that all “empires” ultimately fail. What will keep the US empire alive and well infinitely?

    Look around the globe and you will see unrest and upheaval all over the place including most of the mid-east. With our unsustainable debt and incredible spending how long do you suppose it will take for the riots to start once the entitlement checks stop? Whoops, the checks haven’t even stopped yet and Wisconsin public employees are “in the streets”; Ohio, Illinois, California and NJ are next. Your guess is as good as mine as to where it all ends but we are in for trouble; no doubt.

    And for Jeff, think about this; China forces the end to the US dollar as the global currency. The immediate impact is $5 or $6 gas “overnight”. Rampant and perhaps runaway inflation follows bringing the collapse of our consumer based economy.

    Food, gas and most everything else is in short supply, is expensive and virtually no one is prepared. Sound pretty bleak? You betcha.

    But like I say, I hope Jeff is right. I’m just not betting the farm on it.

  11. Having read the original article, and the subsequent posts, I’ll say that I’m very glad that I live in deep, red-state flyover country.

    I’m so far out in the woods, that I cannot see one single neighbor’s house from anywhere in what qualifies as my yard. I have to get on the property boundaries to see neighbors.

    But every one of my neighbors is already heavily armed, especially compared to most urban dwellers or suburbanites. I’ve either invited most of my neighbors over to shoot targets in the backyard, or I’ve been to their backyard shooting ranges. If you counted the guns I own with those owned by my neighbors, we would probably outgun three or four combined Taliban militias. Only we have a considerably higher level of marksmanship proficiency.

    But none of us has, by rural Arkansas standards, a really large collection of guns.
    None of us, to my knowledge, is approaching triple figures in the gun department………….yet.

    All of my neighbors either own some sort of livestock, or have owned livestock and thus have the knowledge, the skills, the outbuildings and the equipment to care for livestock.

    We all raise crops and gardens to varying degrees. We all hunt deer, and pretty much anything else that’s huntable, in our own back yards.

    I’ve already had “the discussion” with the neighbors I get on with the best about what our “neighborhood plan” would look like if the S ever H’s the F. And no, I’m not divulging any specifics, either.

    As far as “realistic prepping” I also want to point out that twice in the last few years, significant ice storms have caused me and my neighbors to be without power for at least a week at a time. But because we live out here, and know what we face from severe weather, being without power for a couple of weeks has proven to be, at most, an annoyance.

  12. Lets see, a gun with 2-4 controls is way too difficult to handle at 7′ or less where almost all gun fights happens, but an auto with 15-25 controls is easy to handle and we let felons and mentally ill handle them. NOT!

  13. “I sincerely hope no one here is going to refuse to hand a gun to their liberal, hemp wearing vegan neighbor who offers to help defend the “castle” when it’s do or die time”

    The only problem with that thought is the fact that the “liberal, hemp wearing vegan neighbor” will NOT offer to help defend the neighborhood if the need arises. His upbringing, friends, political affiliations and beliefs so far in his life will ensure that he expects everyone else in the neighborhood to feed, shelter, clothe and protect him – with no effort on his part, and certainly no inclination to risk his life for others.
    I wouldn’t waste my time, effort, ammo and safety trying to train a liberal vegan to do anything. Probably the best use for him is as dog food for your attack dogs. And if I have offended any liberal, hemp wearing vegans on this web site; good.

  14. Well folks, if TEOTWAWKI hits, my wife and I are dead in 30 days due to lack of refrigerated pharmaceuticals. That being the case, I don’t worry about planning for longer than that. We live inside the Beltway and probably aren’t going to be able to get out of the area, so there goes another thing to plan for.
    So, short term? Cases of bottled water, nozzle and hose to drain the water heater. Three cases of the civilian equivalent of MREs (trust me, they actually taste like food!), canned and bag cat food (so the cats don’t have to gnaw on us until after we are dead) and 500 rounds for each weapon. I buy it 500 or 1,000 rounds at a time whenever I get down to 600 or so.
    I only know of one neighbor with guns, we might move in with them because their house is more defensible, and they are good friends. Most of my close neighbors are Prius-driving hoplophobes who are probably the ones we will be defending against until the roving gangs start up.


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