What do you tell people to have in their disaster kit?
Every jurisdiction in the land that has an emergency management office will have some form of disaster preparedness messaging. If nothing else, it/you will use what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) promotes.
There have been many different adaptations to the idea of having three days of supplies to get a person through a disaster. Note: In Washington and Oregon, the message is 14 days due to the significant earthquake threat.
The first time weapons of any sort were mentioned to me was the run-up to Y2K, the Year 2000 when it was thought by some that potential computer glitches would throw communities into chaos. That is when I first became exposed to camouflage-wearing individuals roaming disaster preparedness fairs. All of this pre-dated the Preppers of today. Preppers of course seem to start with guns and ammunition and then store water. One has to have their priorities right!
What brought all of the above to mind was this past week when for the first time I'd seen a preparedness kit checklist that had Item 5. Personal safety protection (handgun, taser, etc.) listed as being a suggestion for what people should have in their home preparedness kit. I did note that these items were not listed in the lists for Evacuation Backpacks or for a Car Kit.
The list was part of a constituent mailing from an outgoing county commissioner who is known to "pack" a gun in her purse.
But, my question is, "What do you tell people when they ask if they should have weapons for personal protection as part of their disaster kit?" For some areas of the nation, like in rural places and in the Western states, having a weapon in the home is no big deal. There are many active hunters and be it a shotgun or rifle, a weapon is not anything unusual. However, would you suggest that the "suburban housewife" (should that term be appropriate these days) go out and buy a weapon for personal protection due to the risks of a disaster?
I am not of the mind that doing so is a good idea to suggest gun ownership for a whole host of reasons. Lack of familiarity with the weapon, no training, the lack of will to use it, and therefore having their own weapon being turned on the owner. Then statistics show that the presence of a gun in the home is something that can promote suicide and, additionally, there is the chance of children and young men playing with guns and injuring or killing one another.
I had a classmate in high school who shot and killed a friend with a .22 caliber handgun as they handled it as teenagers in his bedroom. His father was a doctor and was home at the time, and still could not save the boy. Bad things can and do happen.
My suggestion is to be very careful about what you say on the topic of gun ownership when it comes to disasters.