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.