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Two-legged predators are everywhere, so we need to be ready to protect ourselves. And that’s during normal times. During a time of societal breakdown, self-defense will be even more important. Without the law and law enforcement to hold them back, the two-legged predators amongst us will take advantage of the opportunity; not only to steal, but to commit all sorts of atrocities.
To determine how to defend ourselves in such a situation, we need to understand the type of scenario we’re talking about. Societal breakdown isn’t all that common, despite what some people say. While there have been societies that have fully broken down, that usually happens in places where the government is small and poorly organized, probably run by a dictator. All it takes to make society break down in such cases is getting rid of the dictator.
That’s not the situation we’d find ourselves in, as we have a large government broken into different, interlocking levels. That’s not to say our government couldn’t break down. It would take a disaster serious enough that law-enforcement officers abandon their posts to care for their own families. Lack of food, water, and other basic necessities could see those officers forced to hunt and forage food. If they weren’t getting paid, I could see even the most dedicated officers putting their family before their job.
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Such a time would also be the impetus for lots of rioting, as people become upset about shortages, trying to make their voice heard by government officials who may not even be in their offices. There are people all around us who have become dependent on the government, thinking that the government is supposed to take care of them. So it’s not just the professional predators that we’d have to be concerned about, but the mobs of people looking for someone to take their anger out on.
What Defensive Philosophy to Use?
There are a couple different ways to look at self-defense in such a situation. First, it’s best to avoid getting anywhere near others at all. Being where other people are, especially those who are rioting, is a sure way to end up in an altercation. No matter how good you are, there’s always the possibility that you’ll get hurt.
But there may be times when you have to go out in public, whether to gather water, barter, or find out the news. During those times, you can either choose to be heavily armed, with the idea of scaring off any attackers, or you can choose to hide your weapons so as to appear insignificant, hoping that people will ignore you. Either option carries risks, with there being no right answer. You make your choice and take your chances, either way.
At home is a totally different situation. Should all those hungry people find that you have food, they’ll probably come knocking on your door. The first time they might ask politely; but after that, you can be sure they’ll come back in force, with the intent of taking what you have. Subtlety and concealed weapons is of no help then; you’ll have to be ready to fight.
So there is no “one size fits all” answer for the best weapon to have. Rather, we all need a variety of weapons that we can draw from, selecting the best possible weapons to use in a given situation, while keeping in mind that the situation could change several times in one day.
Our best options are generally the lethal ones. While killing another person is never something to be looked forward to; if we are truly defending ourselves, we may very well find ourselves in the place where the other party is forcing our hand. It could very well come down to kill or be killed.
The base weapon for self-defense is always a handgun. For most people, this should be the biggest caliber handgun they are comfortable shooting. That means being able to shoot an entire box of ammunition without the hand becoming tired or sore. While not the biggest, the 9mm is a good all-around handgun to use, especially because it has the greatest penetrating power of any pistol round.
I recommend semi-automatics over revolvers because semi-automatics have a larger magazine capacity. While there are a few people who can reload a revolver as fast as reloading a semi-automatic, they are few and far between. If you think revolvers are better because they are simpler, keep one around, but have a semi-automatic to defend yourself with.
If you’re going to go with a more stealthy approach rather than arming yourself to the teeth, it makes sense to use a smaller, more concealable pistol. Anyone wanting to hassle you is probably going to come within arm’s reach anyway, negating the aiming problems inherent with a short-barreled pistol.
If it’s going to be belly gun range anyway, you’ll be shooting instinctively, not using the sights. Two to three shots should be all you need.
Knives of all sorts are useful weapons for self-defense, especially to those who have been trained in their use. Just be sure to get some of that training. And of course, don’t try to go up against someone who is carrying a gun, using nothing more than a knife. It’s a good idea to carry several, located in different places on your body, so that you can always get to one easily.
With knives, the best defensive technique I know of is to make small cuts on their arms rather than trying to get past their own knife to stab their body. Eventually, those small cuts will wear them down and make it difficult for them to fight, hampering their movements with pain. Then if it is still necessary to go for the kill, you can do it with less risk.
One of the best home defense weapons is the shotgun. Using slugs, it is possible to shoot out to 100 yards if you take the ballistic drop of the slug into account. At shorter range, 00 buckshot is hard to beat. If you have to defend your home from those attackers, it’s hard to beat the effectiveness of a tactical shotgun.
If you’re going to buy a tactical shotgun, I’d recommend either buying one of the bullpup shotguns with dual magazines or buying a shotgun with removable magazines. One of the biggest drawbacks to a shotgun in a firefight is the limited ammo they hold. So do what you can to eliminate that problem, ensuring that you’ll have enough rounds to shoot.
The AR-15 platform is hard to beat as a home defense weapon against a group of people attacking your home. While it is a bit too much against one or two home invaders, carrying the risk of the round going right through the wall and killing the neighbors across the street, it’s capacity, maneuverability, and accuracy make it ideal for confronting a gang of attackers, whether they be human or zombie.
While you should never count on a melee weapon as your only form of defense, there are times when they can be highly effective, especially if you can carry a stealthy one that isn’t obvious.
If you’re going to go out in public, appearing as if you are unarmed or lightly armed, then I’d carry some sort of melee weapon in your hand, even if it is nothing more than a walking stick. That weapon can always be dropped to grab a gun; but it ensures you have something in your hand if someone tries to jump you.
Less Lethal Options
I’m not a big fan of less-lethal weapons for self-defense in any situation. Even so, I recognize that there are times when they can be useful, such as times when there still is law-enforcement. In that case, they are an option, especially in states where the courts automatically think an armed citizen is guilty. They can also be useful if there is some reason to capture an attacker, perhaps to question them.
Probably the best less lethal weapon option is a taser pistol, of the type that police are now carrying. Not only does it incapacitate the person for about 15 minutes, it will shoot accurately up to 20 or 25 feet, so you don’t have to wait until they are within arm’s length. The drawback however, is that they are as expensive as buying another gun.
If you’re going to consider using tear gas or pepper spray in such a situation, then you might as well buy bear spray. While it is illegal to use bear spray against humans in many states, we’re assuming a breakdown of law and order. In that case, it’s considerably more effective than pepper spray.
Not all weapons are ideal in such situations. There are some things that I don’t recommend, even some that I like, but would still not recommend in such situations.
The bow is one of my personal favorites. If I ever have to bug out, that’s what I’ll be carrying. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend it for walking the streets during a breakdown of society or for defending your home, unless you’re as good a shot, both in terms of speed and accuracy, as Hawkeye. I’m not there.
The hunting rifle, or as some people put it, the sniper rifle, is totally useless in a self-defense or home defense situation. At its base, it is an offensive weapon, not a defensive one. No matter how bad things get, your actions should be clearly defensive only.
Things will probably get back to some semblance of normal and when they do, you can be sure that there will be someone out there who will be determined to prosecute those who had to defend themselves. That alone is enough reason to make sure that your actions can clearly be seen as defensive.
To be defensive, you must only act when there is a risk of life and limb. It’s hard to say that some guy a block away is a threat, even if you know that he is. As far as the law is concerned, he’s not a threat until he physically takes action that puts you in danger of death or serious injury. Even if he has promised to kill you, you can’t count on that as proof of self-defense. You’ve got to wait until he takes action, and that means letting him get close enough to take that action.
Other Less Lethal Options
There are no other less-than-lethal self-defense options I would recommend in such scenarios. If things ever get that bad, it’s probably going to be kill or be killed. Under those restrictions, the only reason I can see to capture an “enemy” is to get information from them.
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It’s amazing what car/house keys can do…more a secondary self defense strategy, yet, from personal experience in the SF Bay Area, highly effective.
Nigel Duncan Adam says
The AR platform using 223 is less likely to over penetrate than a pistol caliber that is why you see law enforcement and FBI using them to breech a building they do clear out neighbors but can never be certain that they have cleared out everyone so they use a weapon and round that is less likely to over penetrate and cause unintentional casualties.
Bill Johnson says
Regarding shotguns for home defense. If one has nearby neighbors, one might want to use #4 buckshot. At close range (inside home or small yard) the #4 will do the job. It also will do much less collateral damage to your neighbors. Slugs and 00 buck will over penetrate and misses will go thru multiple walls endangering innocents.
Just my opinion and what I use.