[This article is part of a series. If you’re interested in protecting your preparations, that’s GREAT, but please do not start with guns! Start with keeping quiet, planning to share, or passive defense options.]
A discussion on preparation and emergency preparedness is incomplete without addressing the issue of guns as part of preparedness. In my last post I explained why guns and ammo are a totally inadequate (and even embarrassing) preparation item on their own…but you can be well prepared and include firearms as part of your preparations. The decision to own a gun as part of your preparation is a personal decision, and one you will want to consider thoroughly before you buy one. For some readers, adding a gun (or multiple guns) to your existing emergency preparedness will absolutely be the right thing. Other readers may not feel comfortable having a gun in their homes. Both of these options are workable, and you need to do what you feel comfortable with. Either way, I hope this post will give you some things to think about as you decide whether to own a gun (or guns) as a means of protecting your preparations.
Before You Buy a Gun
- Think about what you would want a gun for, and whether that is actually practical or not. Do you want a gun for hunting game to supplement your long-term food storage? Are you hoping to intimidate potential thieves, without actually shooting your weapon? Are you planning to open carry your gun when you are out and about, when society is not stable, so that you do not appear to be an easy target? If the right situation arose would you actually use your gun? If someone threatened your life, would you be able to shoot the person knowing you could end that person’s life? Would you ever be tempted to use the gun in wrong situations?
- Know the laws. Different countries and states have different laws for gun ownership and use. Is it legal for you to open-carry where you live? Can you concealed-carry where you live? When are you legally allowed to reveal your gun to someone? What gun-related precedent is there with your local courts? Do your laws favor gun owners, or discriminate against them? You need to know what will be expected of you if you choose to own a gun.
- Know what you would need to do if you shoot someone. Things may be different in a major emergency, but the way things are now (at least in Utah, which is a fairly gun-friendly state) if you shoot someone you’ll pretty much for sure need a lawyer. I carry a business card in my wallet for a lawyer who specializes in the defense of people involved in gun-related incidents. If a shooting ever occurred, you would need to know what to do: usually, you call 9-1-1 and tell them a shooting has occurred, you put the gun down away from you (because when police arrive, they won’t know whether you were the “good guy” or the “bad guy” and they will be concerned for their own safety if you are holding a gun), and you must be extremely careful about what you say—you will probably decline to discuss the situation and instead call your lawyer right away. Even if you are the “good guy”, you could easily end up sentenced to life in prison if you do not handle the situation very, very delicately.
If You Decide to Buy a Gun
- You’ll need to decide what to get. Much of this decision will be based on the intended purpose for the gun. Shot guns, rifles, handguns, etc, work best for different purposes. For example, if you choose to buy a very small gun that is easily concealed, there is a very good chance that it will be a low-caliber gun and it will only shoot accurately at a very close range. Such a gun would be impractical (and inhumane) to use to try to hunt deer. Likewise, a rifle would be difficult to conceal, and not ideal for close confrontations. When my husband and I were initially deciding what to buy, I read a good explanation that strongly recommended a handgun and a shotgun as the best all-around emergency preparedness gun solution. So, we started out with those. Since then we have changed what we own based on our preferences, our budget, and our experiences shooting.
- Research specific guns before you buy anything. I listened to podcasts, watched YouTube videos, and tried guns out before I found ones that I like. Many shooting ranges will allow you to rent guns to try them. Sometimes you can even pay a flat fee to try as many guns as you want. Remember that the gun only works if you have ammunition for it, so if you choose something that uses a common type of ammunition, it will be easier to obtain in hard times, and you may be able to barter with someone to get some. On the other hand, if you choose something with an uncommon caliber, your ammo will probably be more expensive and harder to find. As you practice, it is nice to have a practice gun that is relatively inexpensive to shoot (.22s are common for this purpose). Some people go wild and have a whole lot of guns, other people will just choose one or two guns, and other people are anywhere in between. Your budget will also be a consideration as you decide what type of gun(s) to buy.
- When you buy your gun, you need ammo too. Especially where we’re talking about owning guns for preparedness purposes, this is an item that you do kind of want to stock up on if you’re able to.
- Know gun safety rules and store guns safely. We have to think about this every time we have kids around our house. There are a variety of different gun locks and gun safes available for various purposes. So, for example, if you want to keep a gun near your bed (as many people do), there are small safes that you can easily open by pressing buttons with your fingers as you reach for the safe. These sorts of things are made to be easy to access but still secure. If you only want your gun in case of an emergency, you may want to keep your gun in an inaccessible place; if you are interested in keeping a handgun with you on a day-to-day basis, you will have other options for keeping yourself (and other people) safe.
After You Buy a Gun
- Remember that training and practice are important. Anyone who owns a gun needs to know how to use it and be comfortable with how it operates in order to be able to use it safely and confidently when they need to. If you don’t know how to use your gun, in the middle of an emergency will be an awful time to learn. Take some time periodically to go practice.
- Continue to prepare in other ways. Don’t think for a minute that a gun and ammo is sufficient preparation for tough times. Guns and ammo are not even a “Plan B”—they’re more like “Plan G” or “Plan H”. Do not plan to rely on guns in an emergency.
- Know that after an emergency, people may try to collect your guns. After Hurricane Katrina, people posted videos on YouTube of police going around trying to collect people’s guns for the safety of the community. An emergency does not negate your Constitutional right to own a gun. You’ll need to do what you think is best, and what you feel comfortable with, but you may want to strongly consider temporarily forgetting that you own guns when someone comes to your door to collect them. Giving away your firearms just leaves you vulnerable, and it makes your community weaker. Also, as they say, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” You need to be prepared to be responsible for your own protection, and that may mean that you need to hang onto your guns at a time when you are most vulnerable. Again, you’ll need to think about this and decide what you’re comfortable with.
I hope this discussion has been helpful. We could talk about guns in all of my posts and we wouldn’t run out of topics for a very, very long time, but this post is just meant to be a basic overview to help you think about whether a gun (or guns) should be part of your emergency preparedness.
So readers, what do you think? What guns do you think are the best choices for people who want to be prepared? Do you have any other suggestions for people who are trying to prepare by including a gun in their preparations?
If you’re looking for an everyday personal protection solution, sometimes people recommend a taser or pepper spray. Especially if the idea of owning a gun makes you uncomfortable, you may be wondering if those items are a good substitute as you’re trying to protect your preparations. In my next post, we’ll look at why a taser or pepper spray may have a place in your preparations, and what that place would be. That will wrap up this series on protecting your preparations.