Earthquake Preparedness and Guns

Over the past year, we’ve mostly filled a large rolling plastic trash bin with earthquake supplies. First-aid kit, blankets, lots of water, hand-crank radio, emergency rations, etc. The wheels on the bin are so we can drag it along with us if our area is evacuated (we live pretty close to a major fault, on soil subject to liquefaction). We’ve got a few more things to add, but are mostly ready.

Recently a friend of ours asked whether we had a gun in our kit. A gun? A friend of his who lived through post-Katrina said that after a couple of weeks of no public services, people who had supplies but no guns were sorry they didn’t.

As you can guess, guns aren’t my bag. What happens when someone with a gun approaches and asks for our water? Am I supposed to have a gunfight with them? I’m more inclined to give them the damn water and drink from the reservoir left over in our home’s water heater. But it’s hard to imagine what actually living through that kind of Mad Max world would actually be like, and how my thinking might change in that kind of situation.

What about you? Is your disaster kit ready? And does it include firearms?

Music: Screaming Headless Torsos :: Smile In A Wave (Theme From Jack Johnson)

16 Replies to “Earthquake Preparedness and Guns”

  1. I would say that if you’re not prepared to use one, keeping a firearm is at best a waste of money, and at worst (especially in California) a dangerous liability.


  2. My first boss was originally from Montana. He leaned toward the libertarian-conspiracy-theorist side of the spectrum, and among other things, often declared that he didn’t stockpile food, he stockpiled ammunition. That wasn’t too far from the truth…

    At work, a couple blocks from the Senate, my disaster plan is to walk around to the corner liquor store, buy a bottle of whiskey, and hope for the best. I don’t think it’s worth doing much more than that given proximity.

  3. I’ve got a mate who travels in international waters, and doesn’t carry a firearm. There is a significant chance of piracy, but you are much more likely to be shot if you even have a gun on board.

  4. Firearms should never be thought of as a physical deterrent, only psychological; meaning banning guns allows criminals to know that no one has them, and they are psychologically predicated to believe their intended victims are helpless.

    Gun bans are a failure in this regard. They remove the psychological deterrent.

    But the physical gun itself should only be displayed in situations where you are prepared to use deadly force without hesitation. If a bear was mauling Miles, pulling out a gun makes sense. You’ll shoot that bear without thinking twice.

    Pulling out a gun to defend your last Twinkie is a bit different. There will be hesitation, as neither you nor I consider a fookin’ Twinkie worth a human life, no matter how miserable that life.

    Don’t pack a gun. Rely on your neighbors to be armed, and thus supply the psychological deterrent. And foist the “flight or fight” dilemma on them. :)

  5. Granted, there are some issues with gun bans. I think the biggest failure of gun bans is that they only remove guns that are legally owned to begin with. Criminals are hardly likely to turn in a banned gun, even under some form of amnesty.

    Gun bans do appear to reduce the number of accidental deaths from firearm related incidents. But legalised abortion does a better job of reducing the number of violent deaths due to firearms than any gun ban.

    Having said that, and having grown up in a rural environment where firearms were a necessity (not to shoot the natives, or any type of dangerous wild animals, but to quickly and humanely put down sick or hurt animals, or kill pests like foxes and rabbits), I don’t believe that guns should be widely available to the general population.

    I live in Australia, which has much more draconian firearms regulation than the USA, and I know in the UK, which is even more so, the penalties for illegal gun ownership preclude all but the most hardened criminals from packing heat. At least a “professional” criminal is less likely to accidentally shoot someone than a “new-to-criminality” criminal. Or so I’d like to believe.

    (As for the last bit – I’d be very alarmed if some of my neighbours were carrying weapons. Mainly because they are too old to walk unassisted down the street.)

  6. Well, that settles it. No Glock in our rolling wastebin. Oops, guess I just tipped off future earthquake thugs.

    Matt – you’re referring to the data about connection between advent of legalized abortion and lower crime rates 18 years later as covered in Freakonomics? Fascinating stuff – have been meaning to post about that for ages.

  7. long ago, when i was preparing to leave buffalo, ny, to travel out west and eventually move to ca, a cocktail waitress i worked with asked me, in all seriousness, “you’re going to have a gun with you while you travel aren’t you?”

  8. I just had this discussion with my beloved the other day. She has been storing supplies since Y2K and reinforced by 9/11. I built her heavy duty shelves because I kept finding food, water, etc. hidden inside of of nooks and crannies.

    You mention the guy who asks for water… it isn’t the askers but the takers you have to worry about. I told her we would need a gun to help protect her supplies.

    Since you are not big on guns, I think this is simple. Get a fake pistol with holster. Wear it as you roll your supplies can down Mad Max Blvd. Wear the hat from your avatar. No one will mess with you or your family.

  9. I wonder whether flashing a toy gun would have the same “provocative” effect that a real gun has (see Matt Schinckel, above). In other words, could it cause more trouble, rather than less. You could still end up in a gunfight, only without any ammo.

  10. Toys guns are worse, IMHO. They have, as Scot said, the same inflammatory effect. But you can’t back it up.

    There have been numerous cases of kids shot by police, when it later turned out the “weapons” they were “packing” were actually toys.

    By the same token, there have been cases where (young black male) people have been shot reaching for their wallets, to produce ID. But I think that was only in New York City. (Michael Moore, I think did a thing on this in his TV show).

    And PJ: why should Miles have to learn gun safety? I learned gun safety, as I was in a situation where a gun was always kept in the house. My partner, on the other hand, wouldn’t know how to safely handle a gun, other than basic common sense, because she grew up in a metropolitan area, and had no need to handle a gun.

    (Oh, and Scot, it’s in, not ni in my name.)

  11. So this post spawned even more discussion in the household and we started researching guns. (We don’t own anything more than a single shot .22 rifle that my Dad bought from JC Penny when he was 15. And even that is hidden far and away from kids.) Not that we are going to buy a gun, but I did decide on a Glock 23 for myself thanks to wikipedia

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation issues all agents graduating from the FBI Academy a Glock 22 or Glock 23 according to the agent’s preference

  12. Wait… you’re not going to buy a gun for the family but you are buying one for yourself? Does that mean you’re not going to store it in the house? And if not, then where? In your disaster kit?

  13. To clarify… this post caused us to *discuss* and then even *shop* gun options. And then I even made a choice. But we ain’t buying. The risk/benefit ratio isn’t right for me. However, Kathy does like your emergency kit on wheels storage idea. We have to worry more about ice storms, tornadoes, drought, (and I guess terrorists) in Atlanta.

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