I knew once I began the discussion on disaster preparedness, sooner or later the topic of guns would come up. Because of a handful of misguided individuals who feel they have to shoot up schools, workplaces and restaurants, the entire nation is involved in a debate as to whether or not responsible people should own firearms. I have purposely avoided the subject because of strong feelings on both sides of the issue but the question has come up, so let’s take a look.
The widely accepted opinion is that during times of disaster the police are overwhelmed. Watching looters during race riots or hurricanes or any disruption tells us that a certain element of society will run amok if it is obvious they can loot, pillage and burn with impunity. There are always those whose behavior is right on the cusp of crossing the line of legality. When disaster strikes, they unleash themselves on society, counting on an unarmed populace to allow unrestrained criminal behavior. Clint Smith, Director of Thunder Ranch and former Marine is credited with the following quote: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!” (And yes, I know there are no former Marines!) Considering this, many preppers consider gun ownership as a vital part of their preparations.
Let me say right up front I’m a gun owner. I am a member of the NRA and consider myself a recreational shooter and occasional hunter. As a former police officer, the firearm was simply a tool of the trade. My family grew accustomed to seeing my duty belt (with loaded .357) hanging from the gun rack in our bedroom. But then, not all families are accustomed to having firearms in the home. Not only are they nervous around anything gun related, they are vehemently opposed to anything to do with a firearm.
Gun ownership in the United States is at an all-time high. More people are buying firearms now than at any time in our history. At the same time, violent crimes including murder, rape and armed robbery are at a 30 year low! Coincidence? Author Robert Heinlein once wrote, “An armed society is a polite society.”
Attempting to determine how many people own firearms resulted in vague answers. Nationwide, it is estimated the percentage of households owning firearms is somewhere between 39% and 50%. I believe that the percentage in Southwestern Oregon is markedly higher. Just a feeling I have. Of course there are population pockets throughout the U.S. where gun ownership is believed to approach 100%. Some communities actually require gun ownership. (At least that’s what I read on Facebook!) A more exact statistic is in regard to concealed handgun licenses. My home state of Oregon reports slightly over 250,000 active concealed carry permits. In case you’re interested, Florida wins the contest with a reported 1.8 million concealed carry permits. While some states, Hawaii, and Vermont show no permits issued. More information is available on www.gunstocarry.com.
Whether or not you choose to protect your family is your business. The police will likely be unavailable during any significant emergency. If your choice is to purchase a firearm, then that’s a decision you shouldn’t make lightly. Do your research. Get some training, get some more training, and practice safety!
As always, send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.