by William E. Simpson, Ready Nutrition

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With the start of the new-year, there always seem to be several articles that come out promoting guns as part of a preparedness solution. And it’s an unfortunate fact that firearms have become almost synonymous with Preppers and disaster preparedness. I will explain why that is truly unfortunate…

Sadly, thanks largely to movies and bloggers with little or no ‘real’ long-term survival experience, far too much emphasis is placed on owning battle rifles as a primary part of survival or Prepper equipment.

First of all, survival and disaster preparedness really have nothing to do with ‘battle rifles’ or assault weapons as they are sometimes called (AR-15, AK-47, etc.). Having owned and sold many of these guns, as well as many other battle rifles in a past life as a licensed Federal Firearms Dealer, I have to confess that they are fun to shoot and have a certain appeal as collectable representative weapons of many past and current military engagements.

bill on training hike

Capt. Bill (1979): 20-mile survival training evolution; some family must be carried!

And unlike so many other countries, our right to own these and other firearms is protected by our U.S. Constitution, although some states and local jurisdictions have been trying to make the ownership of battle rifles illegal. And it’s my personal opinion that law-abiding American citizens have the right under the U.S. Constitution to own and bear the firearms of their choice. The keywords are ‘law-abiding’ and ‘American citizens’; foreigners and/or illegal immigrants have no right to own any firearms inside the United States, and U.S. citizens who are convicted felons have unfortunately lost their right to keep and bear arms.

At the risk of digressing a bit further, there is another important point that I would like to make: Guns do not kill people, no more so than ‘spoons making people fat’. People kill people. And if someone wants to kill, and a gun isn’t available, police records show that knives, blunt instruments and other items combined kill many more people than do guns! And when law-abiding citizens are deprived of their lawful possession of firearms, then, only criminals will have guns (and all the other weapons), and isn’t that a comforting thought? My father served with the LAPD after WWII, and he was accurate when he said; “the police are not the personal body guards of citizens, you have to be able to protect yourself”.

If you are considering a firearm for personal defense, and you can lawfully carry a firearm in your intended jurisdiction (you may need to acquire a permit), then by all means get the training and ask a qualified firearms instructor to provide you with advice on getting equipped with a firearm that will properly suit you (easy to carry, fit your hand properly, etc.).

All of that said, when it comes to survival and disaster preparedness, most firearms, especially battle rifles, have very little utility compared to other life-supporting equipment and supplies that pound for pound have much more utility than any battle rifle made.

And when it comes to pistols, they have even less utility than battle-rifles. First off, in actual battle, when it comes to firearms used to dispatch an enemy combatant, the vast majority of kills are made with rifles, not pistols. And secondly, when it comes to survival, a pistol is not good for acquiring game animals due to the very short sighting radius leading to poor accuracy at any relevant hunting range (distance), plus a very limited effective range. So unless you truly are a champion pistol shot, forget pistols.

For those readers who feel they must have a firearm, don’t freak-out just yet, a little further into this article I will be discussing the one type of rifle I feel makes sense if you must have a firearm. And when you read why, you may find yourself with a whole new viewpoint on this subject.

People who are considering survival and disaster preparedness from a serious standpoint don’t start their planning by setting themselves up for being caught in the middle of a riot or a post-disaster thousand-man fire-fight over resources. And it doesn’t matter what guns you have, how good a shot you are, or how many people you have in your Prepper group, in a scenario such as that your odds of getting dead or seriously injured are really good!

Surviving the violence of a post-disaster scenario is not a function of firepower (unless you are a part of a regiment of U.S. Marines, even then good Marines die), it is however a function of already being in the right geographic location when the disaster or unrest begins. In terms of survival in the woods or mountains, location is of equal paramount importance; the right location can mean difference between survival and death in a long term situation.

Let’s be clear here: this is not a discussion about a few days or a week-long hunting or hiking expedition, although these endeavors can provide the basis for very short-term immersion into what survival is about. When you’re looking at survival for many weeks and possibly many months (years?) the equipment complement that you’ll need varies greatly from the gear that worked for planned short-term outings.

The highest priority in survival is; placing yourself in the best possible location with all of your survival gear as soon as possible. Ideally, being in that location at the onset of a disaster or major civil unrest is optimal. The ‘best location’ is defined as; anyplace where threats against the continuity of your personal safety are minimized to the greatest extent possible, and secondly; where there are abundant resources for continued survival. Obviously abundant resources are useless to a corpse.

Starting-out in an optimal survival location is by far the superior tactic. The use of a work-around that attempts to make-up for bad planning, strategies and tactics are the hallmarks of inadequate commitment and the lack of experience. In this scenario (advent of a major disaster), being far removed from some unfolding disaster gives you many tactical advantages:

‘The farther you are removed from the risks by distance (100-500 miles?) the better the odds that few if any other desperate survivors will encroach upon your position. I talk about this in depth here’: Disaster Preparedness: Which Strategy is best for me

If your safety is compromised by being in the wrong location (too close or at ground zero) from the onset of a disaster and ensuing civil unrest, then you’ll find yourself in the unenviable situation of trying to make it to safety (targets in the middle of thousand-man cross-fire). People do crazy things when the going gets tough… look at the example of the life guard who swims to the rescue of the downing man only to be pulled-under and drowned himself by the non-thinking desperations of the victim. And as we have all seen on the news, things don’t even need to be that desperate before people act insanely; look at all the people who have been trampled to death or crushed at the door of a variety store when there is a sale! That’s how it is when things get crazy, only much, much worse!

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