Self-Defense and Preparedness Notes

[An email out to my homeowners association membership on the subject of emergency preparedness, previous comments having sparked an invitation to attend the next emergency preparedness committee meeting and provide input.]

I don’t know that I’m much of a meeting kind of guy for something like this, but I do have a few general ideas to think about, for whatever they’re worth to anyone.

1. The worse the disaster, the more you are likely to have to rely exclusively on your own preparedness, knowledge, forethought, and skills. This is something to keep in mind. The worse the disaster…

2. However…. the chances of things going beyond minor to medium inconvenience (I consider the ’89 quake medium inconvenience for most people) is very, very slim, and certainly of a far lesser risk that your primary risk activity: driving in cars (as driver or passenger). So the other side of the argument is: "don’t worry, be happy;" just take your chances and enjoy your life. You’re probably going to be fine, and if not, that’s just un-luck of the draw. This is a perfectly rational position, in my view.

I grew up around guns (and thus have no fear of them). I’ve kept up my proficiency all my life, but at the same time, have no interest in guns as a "hobby," as some people do. It’s a tool I know how to use and hope I never have to in adverse circumstances. But it appeals to me as a kind of shortcut, if you will. A time saver. If you stop to think about all the potential dangers in a real SHTF sort of event, you can drive yourself nuts. Possessing a few firearms that you know how to use can serve as a blunt, catch all sort of tool, i.e., "well, I’m not sure what could happen, but at least I can reasonably protect myself." So this is kind of number one, above, but in a number two kind of sense. "I’ve done this much, and whatever that can’t handle, I’m just not going to fret about."

The ’92 LA riots (or "civil unrest," if you prefer) was a SHTF event for a lot of people, and many many many  were all on their own (no friends, neighbors, and certainly no cops). Only few were really prepared (armed Korean shop owners come to mind). They probably shudder to think what could have happened to their lives and their livelihoods had they not been prepared. Many weren’t. About 60 people died and 1,100 places (mostly small businesses) were burned to the ground. Read and remember.

A couple of notable excerpts:

The police never appeared, having been ordered to withdraw for their own safety…

The Korean American community, which perceived the first day’s events as an abandonment of Koreatown, swiftly organized a self-defense team composed of veteran Marines and workers, who entered the fray. Open gun battles were televised as Korean shopkeepers and the self-defense group took to using firearms to protect their businesses from crowds of looters.

It was several days before police and military were sufficiently organized to provide any meaningful response.

Then there was the New Orleans disaster. Here, the events were so devastating that it would have overwhelmed any sort of advanced preparedness that would have been remotely cost-effective as a function of risk (except maybe building proper levies in the first place). This sort of thing had happened before, with tornadoes in the Midwest, flooding along the Mississippi, and hurricanes along the Eastern seaboard and Florida. But in all these (as well as everyplace except New Orleans proper) most of the immediate response help comes from the people themselves. In New Orleans, I don’t know what the figures are, but you were dealing with people largely conditioned and trained — and indeed often paid — to be dependent on others, and so I found what happened to be completely unsurprising. Almost nobody was prepared, had thought about what to do, and certainly had no recognition that they were ultimately on their own and responsible for their own survival. I find this utterly astounding, given the several days advance warning of the storm.

Closer in history, we have the Va Tech massacre. And even notable voices from the Left like Alexander Cockburn see that something is just all wrong about relying on the response of the government in general and police, in particular.

Notable excepts:

When the mass murder session began in the engineering building the police cowered behind their cruisers till Cho Seung-Hui finished off the last batch of his 32 victims, then killed himself. Then the police bravely rushed in, started sticking their guns in the faces of the traumatized students, screaming at them to freeze or be shot. Similar timidity was on display in Columbine, where Harris and Klebold killed students in the library over a period of 15 minutes and then committed suicide. The police finally mustered up the nerve to enter the library over two hours later."

The Virginia Tech terrible massacre should prompt a radical review of the utility of SWAT teams which now infest almost every community in America. Each time there’s a hostage taking or a mass murderer on the rampage, one sees the same familiar sight: overweight SWAT men, doubled up under the weight of their costly artillery, lumbering along in their body armor and then hiding behind trees or cars or walls while the killer goes about his business. SWAT teams perform most efficiently when shooting down unarmed street people menacing them with cellphones."


Alright. Enough. Before I get carried away.

Good to hear you train at the range. That video of me shooting is from Reed’s Indoor Range right off 101, just minutes away.

They have training available and firearms to rent. Very simple, and I was very impressed with their firearm-handling professionalism.

One other note. Almost everything you see on TV and movies is very unrealistic. Hitting a moving target farther than about 10 ft away with anything, much less a handgun, is very, very difficult. Go shoot at a stationary target at 20 feet, and you’ll see what I mean.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Bobby Revell on May 5, 2007 at 20:47

    After hurricane Katrina destroyed my home I sat out on the porch with my guns. Luckily for me Blackhawk choppers dropped off water, ice and MRE's at a school 2 blocks from my home within 4 days after the storm. I live 7 miles from the beach in Long Beach, Ms. I would like to say that New Orleans didn't really get a hurricane; they had a levee problem! Great post!!!

  2. Linda Morgan on May 5, 2007 at 21:47

    Great stuff, sensible advice. Bet you get lots of positive feedback from the neighbors.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow by Email8k