A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt. 2

One thing that Charlie Hebdo, Mumbai, and even the Boston bombing attacks have in common is that they all took place at or near a place of business. Unless you’re out in the woods 100 miles away from civilization, you’re near a business, and the boonies aren’t where urban terrorists are going to attack. That means there’s a 1/3 chance (or greater) that if (God Forbid) you suffer the effects of an urban terrorist attack, it’ll be at, near or on your way to your place of work. Somebody else isn’t going help you or protect your place of business if disaster strikes, you are.

Let’s start this off by acknowledging the reality that terrorists will control when and where they will strike (that’s why they’re called “terrorists” and not “corpses”). We may notice the backpack with the pressure cooker bomb in it, or we may spot the buttstock of the AK under the jacket and take appropriate measures, but in general, we are not “in the know” about the latest intelligence of their movements. When or if it happens, it will be a complete and utter surprise to us.

Hence the use of the word “terror” to describe their actions.

Since chances are we won’t stop the threat before it happens, we have two possible responses: Active Reaction, or stopping the threat before more damage is done, and Reactive Reaction, or mitigating the effects of the terrorist’s actions.

Active Reaction

This is 90% of what you’ll go through in an active shooter drill. Situational awareness. Long-range pistol work. Trunk guns. A lot of stuff has been written about this topic elsewhere, and I have nothing new to add to the conversation besides carry your frickin’ guns, people, so let’s move on.

Reactive Reaction

This, however, is a topic on which I’m not seeing people talk about, at least when it comes to an active shooter/terrorism situation. There is plenty of information out there on how to react to a natural disaster and mitigate the effects of such things on your life, but strangely, there’s almost nothing out there about dealing with the after-effects of a mass casualty event. Maybe it’s because we’re comfortable with the idea that we can’t control the weather, but uncomfortable with the idea we can’t control another person’s actions.

By carrying a gun on our person, we’ve decided we’re going to be our own first responder. However, there is more than just one kind of first responder.

What would have saved more lives on the scene at the Boston bombing: A Glock, or Quikclot?  Getting back to the topic of staying safe at work, if your work freaks out about guns, leave them behind. Make sure, though, you have a well-stocked first aid kit at your desk, along with water, a flashlight and a multitool. No one will freak out about having those things at your desk, if anything, it’ll help you do your job better. I can’t tell you the amount of times that a flashlight has helped me chase down a stray cable under my desk, and the same multitool that has that pointy-stabby blade on it is just dandy for tightening monitor cables. Being known as the unofficial handyman is not a bad thing when it comes time for the boss to evaluate your performance.

Optics Planet Messenger Bag

I’ve carried a mid-sized man purse messenger bag with me into work for a few months now, and it has the stuff in it I need to deal with the effects of a gunshot wound or other severe injury, plus enough other stuff to stay semi-comfortable on my own for 24 hours, no matter what. The whole kit is listed out over at the Smart Suburban Survival Kit blog, but some highlights include the aforementioned multitool, a CAT tourniquet, a fixed blade knife (ok, that might not be a good thing for some offices) and a good flashlight with spare batteries.

Most important, though, is something you probably already have if you’re reading this, and that is mindset. To quote Tam’s Zen preparedness koan,

“Upon hearing the story of the bandit in the village, the student went to the Master:

‘Master, it saddens me that this evildoer is preying on the helpless. I have listened to and practiced all that you have taught me to prepare myself; I truly believe in my heart that I can defeat this bandit.

Everywhere I go on my daily rounds, I keep an eye out for him, walking upright, staying alert and looking around, studying the people around me, and yet the monster never shows himself, never chooses me, but preys on the defenseless instead. Why, Master?’

The Master only smiled.

And the student was enlightened.”

Stay safe. Have fun.

A Backup Plan for your Backup Plan, Pt 1.

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London, Mumbai, Ft. Hood, Boston, Ottawa, Paris. With so many rotten apples, it’s the orchard that’s the problem.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris have once again (briefly) shone a light on the fact that western civilization is undergoing a determined, fanatical assault on our very existence. I’m sure that we’ll soon forget about such things once Kim Kardashian shows off her butt again or some sports teams wins a championship of some kind, but until that happens, let’s take advantage of things and inform the public that yes, they really ARE trying to kill us.

And prepare.

As I’ve said before, if you’ve made the decision to arm yourself against lethal force, you realize you are no longer “somebody else”. Here’s what I mean:

I grew up in Canada, and I never thought of violent crime as something that could affect my family. We lived in good neighbourhoods, we didn’t do stupid things with stupid people, and besides, there would ALWAYS be a Mountie nearby when we needed one, right?

Then one night, a group of friends and myself went camping. Late at night, after we’d all retired, a group of yokels made camp near us, lit up a huge bonfire and started shooting shotguns off into the air. That night, I realized that if they meant to do us harm, a cop would NOT be there to protect us and the only thing we had to defend ourselves was a hatchet.

Somebody else’s problem became MY problem, and quickly. That’s when I realized that believing bad things only happened to other people was NOT going to keep me safe, I was going to have to be my own first responder.

And sonuvagun if the FBI and Department of Homeland Security don’t agree with me on that one.

In a joint bulletin issued to local, state and federal law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said that while they are “unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland” and find most threats to the U.S. homeland by supporters of ISIS “not credible,” they cannot rule out attacks in the United States from sympathizers radicalized by the group’s online propaganda.

“[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process – it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence,” the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders “present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity,” according to the bulletin.

Translation: Look, we cops can’t be everywhere at once: You’re on your own.

Well, at least it’s nice of them to admit it. So what does being somebody else’s “somebody else” mean in a world where terrorists commit mass murder in even our largest cities? We need options. A gun on our person gives us more options for self-defense than not having one. Having a flashlight gives us more options when the lights are out than not having one. What other stuff is there there gives us even more options when things go south?

More on that tomorrow.

Second Thoughts On Police Militarization

After the cops in Ferguson made almost-perfect fools of themselves by rolling out the heavy artillery to quell a bunch of marchers, there’s been a bunch of people (including myself) raising questions about how the police use their surplus military gear.

But.

If a half-dozen or so people roll up on me with full-auto AK’s and an RPG, I want a heavily militarized police presence. I fact, if I were a cop on that beat, I’d much prefer to be so heavily militarized there is little difference between my fellow cops and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

See this? I don’t EVER want to see a cop pleading for his life like this on the streets of America.

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The trick is knowing when to patrol in full battle-rattle, and when not to. It’s not that the police have military gear that is the problem; cops have carried weapons of war on the streets since the days of the night watch patrolling the city walls with a cuirass, halberd and short sword, the problem is how they are used, and when. One can be simultaneously against the indiscriminate use of force by the protectors of our society AND be for said protectors having the means they need to safely protect us and themselves.

Discretion, after all, is the better part of valor.

Window of Vulnerability

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I was JUST in the process of buying the needed items for my Three Day Bag in order to make it more useful for the colder climes of Missouri rather than the dry heat of Arizona, and now it looks like I’ll need to change those plans once more to accommodate my new life in Florida.

This un-nerves me a bit, as my family and I are particularly vulnerable right now. We know next to nobody, so we have no support system in-place. We’re not familiar with the area (we still use Siri to get to the grocery store) and we’ve no idea about the roads out of town or what to do when the levee breaks. We are VERY vulnerable right now, and I don’t like that.

Even worse, we currently live in a small apartment, so stocking up on anything is pretty much a no-go due to space. We have room for a week’s worth of food, and that’s about it.

So over the next few months, it’s going to be on my shoulders to learn the threats to life here in this corner of the Sunshine State and create appropriate responses so we can live our lives can go on with as little interruption as possible.

Stay tuned.

Exit question: What gun for Crocosaurus?

Prepping In A Non-Permissive Environment

non-permissive

I’ve been fortunate that my last jobs have been where there’s either no stated ban on concealed carry or the rules were worded ambiguously enough (i.e. “No dangerous or illegal weapons”) to carry concealed without much worry. 

But not everyone is so lucky. To be honest, as I hang around the fringes of the “prepper” movement, I’m amazed at how many people think that “prepping” means carrying an M4gery and a thousand rounds of ammo with you at all times, as if a grid down situation would instantly turn into real-life Call of Duty. 

Prepping is a simple concept: It just means being able to deal with what life throws at you outside of your normal routine. Sometimes that’s a hurricane, sometimes that’s spilling coffee on your shirt. The vast majority of “preppers” need to learn to put down their plans to go full Rockatansky and just learn to smooth out the bumps in life’s rocky road. 

  • Flashlight: I like AA-powered LED lights because you can load them up with Lithium Ion batteries for longer shelf life, and if you need to replace them, you can find AA alkalines in the Tycho Crater..I own this little Pelican because it’s VERY bright but doesn’t scream “TACTICAL!”
  • Bandanna: Works as a tourniquet, hat, dust mask to name just a few uses.
  • Duct Tape: Look, it’s duct tape. Just have some near you at all times, you’ll figure out why later.
  • Compass: You can get cheap button compasses at a dollar store anywhere.
  • Signal Mirror: Useful for so many things.
  • Leatherman PS Multitool: TSA-approved. ‘Nuff said.
  • “Tactical” pen: Not TOO tactical, though. My “tactical” pen looks as threatening as Mr. Rogers, but it’s just as strong as the big guys. And carry a Sharpie or other “write anywhere” pen as well.
  • Paracord: Just too useful NOT to have around.
  • Cigarette lighter: I don’t smoke, but seeing how fire is usually on the top of most survival priority lists, having a source of fire nearby just makes too much sense.
  • Cell phone charger: I’ve yet to find a AA or AAA battery-based charger that actually works. The Morphie Juice Pack does work, though, and works well.
  • Extra medications: Just the basics. Also, spare glasses if you need them.
  • List of emergency phone numbers (laminated): Because relying on your phone’s contacts is a single point of failure
  • Small Water Filter: Ask anyone who’s traveled overseas just how important clean water is when you can’t get it from the tap.
  • Rain poncho: Because being cold and wet sucks.
  • Water bottle (empty): I like these Vapur collapsible bottles because they don’t take up a lot of space when not in use.
  • First aid kit: Make sure it’s free from TSA-questionable items.I like Adventure Medical Kits’ stuff, and I have a few of these lying around for “just in case”.
  • Pocket Road Atlas: If you asked me right now to get out of Phoenix without using the Interstate, I could do it pretty easily. St. Louis? Not so easily. A map works when there’s no cell coverage and no electricity. Get one.

Some other things to consider in a kit like this? Tide detergent pens for taking care of stains, hand sanitizer (which can also make a DANDY firestarter), wet wipes, and a decent supply of cash. 

Ok, so what do you carry that you can carry through a TSA checkpoint?

The Carbine In Context

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My AR-15’s and the SU-16C aren’t my “go-to” weapon. It’s not even my secondary weapon, (that’s the Mossberg I have in my safe room), the rifle is my third choice: It’s gun that I would use if I need something more than my CCW gun if I’m outside the house. I’ve taken a really good defensive carbine training class, but I need some defensive shotgun training, as (God forbid), that would be my secondary weapon I’d go to not my AR-15.

Oh, and I need a good class in first aid/trauma. That too. 

Prepper Fest AZ Observations and Opinions

Its been a spring full of expos and shows for Exurban Doug.  The latest event I attended was the Prepper Fest AZ Expo, which was held last weekend at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.  I had a chance to check out the exhibitors to see what was new and exciting in the preparation realm.  Here are some of my thoughts on the event.

The Good

There were some noteworthy exhibitors that bear mentioning.  Alan Korwin from Gunlaws.com was there, who is one of the authorities on gun laws in the USA.  If you own firearms, consider purchasing one of his books on gun laws in your state.

Joel Ho from Mobilesec Solutions was there with his Starfish Defender line of EMP shields.  These mesh Faraday enclosures allow you to operate electronic devices while being protected from EMP.  Another helpful feature of these shields is it prevents your NSA mobile tracking device cell phone from being triangulated via RF signals.  Go to his website to find out more but this was perhaps the most fascinating product from the show.

ProtectmyPapers had their flash drive on display as well.  This is a credit-card sized device with a memory chip on a hinge that flips out so it can be attached to a computer.  It includes all the software necessary to securely store important data on the card.  The data is encrypted too, making it more secure from hacking.

Then there was the Biffy Bag™.  The best way to describe it is a portable toilet in a pouch, it is simply brilliant!  This can really come in handy during camping trips, hunting trips, vacations, hikes, and other outdoor adventures.  It can also be helpful in a disaster situation where both water and sanitation are in short supply.  Great product in my opinion.

iTAK Medical was there with their line of medical kits.  These are designed for traumatic injuries from gunshots and other penetrating wounds.  They have two kits for under $100 and are an Arizona-based company too.  I plan to pick one up for my range bag in the coming weeks, it could be a life-saver.

The Bad

This event was at the Fairgrounds, which is a lousy facility in a very sketchy part of town.  The whole area saw its best days over thirty years ago and as an expo venue it is marginal at best.  There are better locations out there that would draw more people and present a better face for the preparedness movement.

Also, the level of professionalism by the various exhibitors varied a great deal.  Some looked and dressed the part of a business, some looked like hobbyists, while others looked like wacky survivalists.  For preparation to become more mainstream, exhibitors need to present themselves in a professional manner to be taken seriously by Middle America.  Preparation is serious business, exhibitors need to treat it that way and not as an excuse to act like amateurs.

Some of the products I have my doubts about too.  When a lady told me “wait until my husband gets done talking with that guy.  He builds these in his garage and can answer all your questions about them…” it did not fill me with confidence.  If I am buying a product, I want to know there is more than just one guy standing behind it in case I need support.

I also noticed several exhibitors selling “off the grid” land for bug-out situations.  I’m not convinced that bugging out of town (with hundreds of thousands of others) is the best idea in most situations.  The money spent on land could be more effectively used on a multitude of preparations around the house for situations that are likely to happen (ex. power outages).  Fear and paranoia are being used to sell expensive things most people aren’t going to be able to use in an emergency, which I find disturbing.

The Ugly

There was a lot more camo-clad attendees at this expo than the recent gun shows that I attended.  Hey, I like my Woodland pattern BDUs too but I don’t normally wear them while I am out and about.  I think doing so reinforces a negative stereotype of a prepper;  that of a militant, somewhat paranoid person who is obsessed with doomsday.  Wearing camo doesn’t help make preppers seem reasonable and normal to our neighbors.

There were a lot of fat and out of shape people at the expo too.  While this reflects American society as a whole, it shows that many preppers are emphasizing gear and tools over self-discipline and fitness.  Emergencies test the body’s ability to respond under stress, which is why the military subjects its personnel to physical and mental stress to prepare them for duty.  Civilian preppers need to concentrate more on fitness and overall wellness in order to be ready for the unexpected.

Another thing that bothered me was the use of the term “sheeple” by some of the exhibitors.  Using this term does not help because of its use by conspiracy theorists and political extremists.  When I hear that word, I get the impression that the person using it is attempting to assert superiority over others.  This kind of arrogance and self-righteousness is unbecoming and does not belong within the prepper community.

The Cray-Cray

The anti-GMO folks were at this event doing their best to whip up opposition to science and modern farming.  Here again, well-meaning but misinformed people are doing damage by parroting misinformation about a complex subject they simply don’t understand.  If these people knew more about agriculture, they wouldn’t be protesting.

Yes, there was actually a chemtrail booth at the expo too.  I just shook my head and refused to accept one of the DVDs they were giving away.  Chemtrail believers are akin to those who fell for the whole crop circle hoax, they won’t believe the evidence when it is presented to them.  I don’t get this particular conspiracy, I am simply baffled by it and regard it as a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the Ronulans haven’t gone away either.  The cause they are pushing for now is ending the Federal Reserve, which echos what the John Birch Society has been calling for.  They weren’t vocal, just present and focusing on the Fed for now.  That said, there is an element of paranoid, libertarianism within the preparation community.

I’ll have some additional observations regarding this event over at Smart Suburban Survival, stop on by for other preparation-related posts when you have a chance.

Another Gun Lock Test

This time, it was a GunVault BreechVault and my Mossberg 500. Jaci had some issues with gun handling on the shotgun after the lock was opened, so now I’m looking around for another storage solution for this gun, and I’m leaning in this direction right now.

And no, leaving it loaded and unlocked is something my wife and I are not comfortable with right now. Yes, my kids know the Eddie The Eagle mantra by heart, and yes, because they’re around them all the time, guns are not tempting to them. 

Don’t. Care.

The odds of them mishandling a gun are 10,000 to 1. But the consequences of that one time are so devastating to me, they negate the other 9,999.