New York city preppers missing something from their 'bug-out bags'

Cataclysmic terror attacks. Natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Or a nuclear Armageddon. How do you survive the collapse of law-and-order and public services - all while marauding thugs go about their work as they did after Hurricane Sandy? Interestingly, increasing numbers of New Yorkers - people from all walks of life - are not putting their faith in the Bloomberg administration to take care of them. They're instead putting together "bug-out bags," with the zeal and self-reliance found in America's red states. Recently, the New York Times ran an article about the trend and, in respect to bug-out bags, noted some bristle with myriad survival gear: "compasses and iodine pills, hand-cranked radios and solar-powered flashlights, magnesium fire-starters and a fully charged Kindle with digital road maps of the tristate region."

Whoops! One critical item was missing, one that (let's be frank) any rube in Idaho or Wyoming would be smart enough pack: a gun. Or better yet, several guns. And plenty of ammo. 

Reporter Alan Feuer's article, "The Disaster Preppers Next Door," was interesting because Feuer himself admitted to being a prepper, and he implied that a gun might be a handy to have. Considering what to pack in his own bug-out bag, he related that "I began the conversation about acquiring a gun."

So where did that "conversation" take him? Feuer never says; and nor did he again broach the subject of guns in his lengthy article.

As for the preppers mentioned in Feuer's article, it's hard to imagine they'd be so stupid as to ignore the value of firearms - and thus endeavor to acquire them. Even a high-powered air gun would work in a pinch.

Perhaps New York's preppers are in fact pro-gun -- and Feuer simply avoided saying as much because, well, suggesting that guns might save the lives of law-abiding people would conflict with his newspaper's anti-gun narrative. Some New Yorkers, to be sure, learned the value of guns the hard way when police were not around to combat roving thugs after Sandy roared through. The post-Sandy crime wave got hyperventilating coverage from New York's tabloids, with one noting that New Yorkers in one neighborhood defended themselves with guns (he lucky ones), baseball bats, and even a bow and arrow.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, was quoted as saying it's a good idea to prepare for a mega-disaster. It might, after all, be days before there's an official response - so people will have to depend "on social networks, on community and on individual preparedness."

"We are all first responders," he added.

So where do guns fit into all this? Redlener didn't say. The Times didn't bring it up either.

The Times' story about preppers was on an inside page while, coincidentally, the top of its front page featured a long anti-gun story. "Selling a New Generation on Guns," blared the headline, and the subhead explained: "Industry Recruits Children, Using Contests, Games and Semiautomatics."

Frankly, I didn't actually read that article about the gun industry's alleged corruption of America's youth: Generally, I don't slog through long articles when I know where they're going - and how they'll end.

Regarding New York's preppers: One told the Times he started to embrace survivalist philosophy after seeing the 1972 movie "Deliverance." "I said to myself, 'Gee, I should get to learning everything possible to prevent that situation from occurring," he said. So what about carrying a gun? He apparently didn't have an opinion; or else The Times didn't ask for one.

"Deliverance," as you'll recall, is about a group of Atlanta men on canoeing trip in the Georgia wilderness who battle gun-totting backwoods villains. They're armed only with a bow-and-arrow.

I can recommend an ever better movie than "Deliverance" to New York's preppers -- a 1962 "B" movie classic in the nuclear apocalypse genre: "Panic in Year Zero!" After an all-out nuclear attack against major cities in America and Western Europe, civilization temporarily collapses - and an upper-middle-class married couple in California -  Harry Baldwin (Ray Milland) and wife Ann (Jean Hagen) - try to survive with their two teenagers.

I saw "Panic in Year Zero!" as a little kid. It scared the hell out of me -- especially the scene in which Harry, who could have been any kid's favorite Boy Scout leader, robs a rural hardware store hours after Los Angeles goes up in a mushroom cloud. Harry knows he and his family are unlikely to survive unless he gets the guns that the store's owners is unwilling to sell him. The owner insists on a two-day wait, while police do a routine background check. Plus, he doesn't take out-of-town checks or credit cards.

Harry comes off as a steel-willed realist, or, it might be inferred, a conservative in respect to his pessimistic view of human nature. He knows what's needed to survive in a Hobbesian world in contrast to his good-heated wife, a clueless liberal. But as civilization collapses, she reluctantly accepts much of her husband's world view, while nevertheless keeping him from completely turning his back on humanity in order, in his mind, to survive. 

As for "Deliverance," let's face facts: If the Burt Reynold's character had been carrying an AR-15 instead of a bow-and-arrow, the movie would have lasted 20 minutes. None of the good guys would have been murdered and raped, either.
As for all you preppers in New York, please take note: Harry and his family would not have survived with the sorts of bug-out bags that you're apparently packing (with the exception being Alan Feuer, the Times reporter, who seems inclined to pack some heat). 

If you've never seen "Panic in Year Zero!," here's the original trailer. It picks up after Harry robs the hardware store to his wife's horror and disbelief.