As we approach yet another apocalyptic “prophecy” in 2012, some folks are already starting to prepare. As weapons and munitions caches in basements across the country begin bulging at the seams, I can’t help but question the validity of this paranoia, and more so, of the methods devised to survive it. In this article, we will take a closer look at several possible SHTF (**** Hits the Fan) scenarios and see exactly what role, if any, firearms will play as they unfold…
SHTF Situation 1: Mother Nature’s Wrath
When nature unleashes her vengeance upon the living, there is little we can do to stop her. Those who are lucky enough to survive a major natural disaster will only find themselves hurled into a world of anarchy and chaos. As days turn to weeks and supplies grow scarce, the usual pleasantries of civilized society decay into an unrecognizable heap of raw human nature. Rioting and looting begins, and martial law is declared.
During this time, you would be well served to have some sort of firearm to defend yourself and your loved ones from attacks. However, that pile of battle rifles and pallets of ammo that were in your basement are now buried under what’s left of your house, which is also soaked in flood waters from the main that ruptured. All you have is your CCW pistol and a few boxes of defensive ammo that you left in your truck. Good! It may have saved your life.
You see, during a state of martial law, the last thing you want to do is be seen running around the neighborhood with your M1A, fixed bayo, BDU’s and a couple of South African mil-surp battle packs loaded up in your chest rig. Aside from making your neighbors nervous, you may as well be painting a giant target on your chest for when the National Guard shows up. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, you would be best served carrying a concealable handgun with a modest amount of ammo to avoid attracting negative attention and to keep your hands free for working or sifting through the rubble that remains of your life.
Fantasy: The world is ending, lets go play Rambo in the streets.
Reality: Food, water, medical aid and shelter will be your primary concerns here. Remember, the situation is likely temporary. So defend yourself if needed, but don’t do anything stupid thinking that ordered society will not catch up to you.
SHTF Situation 2: Acts of War
You just turned on the news to hear that a foreign invasion force of 500,000 infantry troops, 1,800 naval vessels, 30,000 light-to-heavy armored vehicles and 10,000 combat aircraft are headed straight for the shores and borders of your country. After enduring years of costly foreign inquisitions and domestic economic hardship, your government has buckled under it’s own weight, and collapsed entirely. Without an effective national defense infrastructure, hope is all but lost.
You have three choices at this point. You can either flee the country as a refugee, surrender and rely on the mercy of the invaders, or you can stay and give them a fight. If you choose the latter, you will need people, skilled guerrilla tactics, and creative weapons to make a dent in this massive force. It will also require a lot of time and patience, as foreign occupations can take years or even decades before the occupants feel the strain of your resistance. You must be mentally determined to stay in the fight for the long haul.
In better times, you may have thought you were well off with the piles of small arms you managed to collect over the years, but those measly civilian plinkers will be no match for heavy infantry in armored vehicles, let-alone naval and air attacks. You need real weapons if you are going to stop a hostile takeover by a modern, mechanized military force. Make friends with the guy who works in commercial demolition, or better yet, the retired Army Sapper-gone-chemist that lives next door, and take your fight underground.
Fantasy: I am a one-man war machine. I’ll hunker down with my cache of weapons and “hold the dock”.
Reality: Martyr’s don’t win wars. Determination, strategy and tactful execution wins wars. If you lack the firepower and numbers needed to give them good, open gun fight, you will need to get creative in order to stay alive long enough to win. Fight smart, and let the other guy die for his country. .
SHTF Situation 3: Terror Attack
You just caught word that a rogue nation launched a highly advanced cyber-attack targeting global financial networks. Credit card and banking transactions world-wide have come to a screeching halt. It has been discovered that vast portions of user account data has been permanently destroyed. As word spreads of the attack and people realize that they cannot access funds or use plastic to purchase anything, social order rapidly descends into chaos.
This scenario could play out much the same as a natural disaster on the local level; as lack of supplies and purchasing power spreads, people grow desperate and resort to looting and rioting to take what they need. The difference however, is that your guns and ammo will not be buried under rubble or high water. Since the bug bomb knocked out electronic transactions, neighbors have resorted to bartering for the things they need. In this case, your guns and ammo could be worth a lot in trade. After all, you might have upwards of a dozen or more guns, and thousands of rounds of ammo in your stockpile… more than enough to spare a few guns and a few hundred rounds in a trade for food/water/medicine. This would likely be safer and more effective than trying to take what you need by force… not to mention the fact that you get to keep your basic sense of human decency.
Fantasy: I have a bunch of guns… I’ll just form a small militia and take what I need.
Reality: If you decide to join the “take it by force” crowd, you risk everything. Don’t let the fact that you are well armed go to your head. You may have 20K rounds of ammo in your possession, but it only takes one round to ruin your day. If you resort to robbery or looting during desperate times, you are fair game for a smarter, more tactful individual with a better sense of subtlety.
SHTF Situation 4: Last Man Standing
A new virus has evolved that has managed to decimate nearly the entire human population. Just a fraction of 1% of humans were found to be immune to the virus, and infection carried a 100% mortality rate. In just a few months, the virus has wiped out all of your loved ones, all of your neighbors, and virtually everyone in your town. You find yourself alone in a ghostly and desolate world.
The most dangerous thing in this situation is going to be you; your own fear, your lack of will to survive, your inability to cope with the massive loss you have suffered. If you can manage to keep from taking your own life, your next concern will be to avoid becoming dinner for a pack of hungry, feral dog’s or other animals that are bound to be taking to the streets in search of food. The Humane Society estimates that there are over 77 million owned dogs in the United States alone (2009). Feral dogs are far more dangerous than most wild animals because they have no fear of humans. They also tend to form packs, and in large numbers, they will tear you apart like a chew toy. You would be well served to have a gun or two, and possibly a spear or other long, edged weapon at your disposal. I would prefer to pack light, such as a .22 LR carbine or bolt gun, .22 revolver for backup, and something in the realm of a katana if all else fails. That way I can maintain mobility, bring a couple of thousand rounds of ammo with me, and still have room in my pack for other survival necessities.
With everyone around you dead, you ought to have plenty of material objects at your disposal. So, finding tools, supplies and shelter should not be a problem. However, you must use great caution to avoid injury. 911 will be a thing of the past, and a simple cut from a piece of rusted metal could result in a fatal infection without medical attention. You will likely be spending your days scavenging through the remains of society for food and water, and attempting to make contact with any remaining survivors. The most vital element to your own survival will be your attitude, not your choice of firearms. You must know that it is your responsibility to survive, to seek out other survivors, and to reestablish our species. You must remember that it is not the first time humanity has faced extinction. Stay positive, keep hope alive, and don’t get eaten.
Fantasy: Survival looks like fun… at least it does when I watch “Survivor“.
Reality: Survival is not fun. That is why humans have spent thousands of years and mountains of capital attempting to remove ourselves from the hostilities of nature. A very small fraction of contemporary humans even have what it takes to survive in the world alone. It has been bred out of most of us for centuries now. You and I will very likely be crying ourselves to sleep every single night if living in the situation described above. Staying positive and maintaining the will to push on will be the key to your survival.
SHTF Situation 5: Supernatural, Cataclysmal or Extraterrestrial Phenomena
This situation is only limited to the boundaries of your imagination. I’m not going to attempt to devise a scenario here since it would be excessively fictional, and painfully speculative… not to mention that we have little historical context to base our assumptions on. Supernatural, cataclysmal or extraterrestrial phenomena would likely be far too powerful to control with the use of firearms, or any modern weapon for that matter. Think of Noah and the great storm, or the Permian extinction, or the Mt. Everest-sized asteroid that terminated the reign of the dinosaurs. It is very unlikely that some sort of Hollywood-style heroics could intervene and “save the world” from such gargantuan disasters.
If you are faced with this scenario, you would be well served to try and ease your mind, be with your family, and come to terms with the fact that whatever is going to happen will happen whether you like it or not. There is no sense in wasting what is likely to be your last moments on Earth trying to kick down a rolling iron fortress with your bare foot. The human desire to cling to hope when all hope is lost is both our greatest strength, and our greatest weakness. Remain hopeful, but always be pragmatic about your situation.
Fantasy: We can survive anything if we keep hope alive, and give it our best.
Reality: At some undetermined point in the future, the clock will stop ticking for the human species. When the powers that be decide that our time has come to depart from existence, there will be nothing that will stop us from fulfilling that destiny. When the inevitable departure time finally arrives, we must be gracious guests and make room in the world for the next phase of evolution. Forget about your guns, peace of mind and a clean conscience will be the best medicine during this colossal event.
As you ponder the destiny of mankind, try to remember that ours is not the first generation to believe the end was near. To some degree, virtually every generation has smelled the scent of the apocalypse in the air. It is perhaps due to the fact that our species has created and endured unimaginable atrocities throughout our short evolutionary existence.
- The people of post-Roman Europe believed the world was ending as their continent crumbled and collapsed into the vast abyss of the Dark Ages.
- The people of 13th century China felt that the world was ending when the Mongols had brutishly seized control of their entire country.
- The 8th century English thought the world was ending when they were being bludgeoned to death by viking invaders.
- The world actually did end for thousands of Native American tribes between the 16th and 19th centuries.
- The 14th century Europeans tasted the bitter wrath of God as the Black Death swept through the countryside, taking over 1/3 of the population with it.
- The city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt more times in it’s 6,000-year history than any other place on Earth.
- The massive Toba eruption over 700 centuries ago may have reduced our population to less than a few thousand when it plunged the Earth into the darkness of a decade-long volcanic winter.
- How about the 20th century, with WWI, WWII, and The Cold War? How many of those people thought the world was ending?
The instances of vast cataclysms in human history are too numerous to count, and humanity seems to experience an apocalypse, of sorts, quite often. I would encourage you not to get too worked-up over the high probability of another occurrence. Be prepared for things to come, but don’t get overly obsessed with your preparations. After all, we have no idea what form the next cataclysm will assume. If history tells us anything, it is that our cataclysm will likely be the exact thing we are not prepared for. Furthermore, worrying and obsessing over the apocalypse will only serve to hasten it’s arrival… a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Mayan calendar, ending in 2012, depicts little more than a recurring astronomical event, such as the passing of a new year, but on a galactic scale. From an astronomer’s point of view, it is no different than your annual calendar ending on Dec 31st each year. It has happened before, it will happen again, and it will only result in a cataclysm if we create one in our irrational, collective minds.
As for firearms, they seem to be best suited for life in an ordered society, retaining at least some basic remnant of structure. The reason being that contemporary ammunition is a finite resource that will run out quickly if not replenished. It is also very heavy, making it virtually impossible for you to bring your entire stockpile with you if you have to venture off on foot.
You may appreciate having guns and ammunition around if you enjoy shooting and like the comfort and security of being armed. Firearms can be very valuable tools in certain situations, and the right to keep and bear arms is a cornerstone of freedom and liberty. Just remember that you must deploy the right tool for a given task if you wish to maximize your effectiveness, and the most universal tool is not generally found in the gun safe… it is located behind your eyes and between your ears.