Firearms in Emergency Kits?

Cannon Beach, Oregon, a community in the Cascadia subduction zone, has an interesting program in which they store the preparedness kits of residents for them.  A link to the city’s program is here: http://ci.cannon-beach.or.us/community/cachecontainer.html.  In summary, the city provides the opportunity for residents (for a small fee) to store containers (provided by the city) of emergency supplies within city-owned cache locations.  They offer 5 gallon pails (with lids), 30 gallon drums, and 55 gallon drums.  These kits are stored securely in shipping containers at the predesignated locations.

I’m a bit ambivalent about the concept.  While it certainly encourages and enables people and families to have kits that perhaps otherwise wouldn’t, it does remove these kits from their possession.  Not having the kits in your possession limits the ability to add to/maintain the kit and certainly makes them ineffective during a shelter in place scenario.  I, for one, would rather have my kit readily available to me and all family members without having to address:

1) potentially unsafe travel,

2) the ability to access the container (will someone be there to let me in?),

3) a potential state of unrest in the vicinity of the container,

4) will the container still be there (we’ve seen these things easily moved by mother nature).

Note that the informational material on their website does encourage people to also have go-bags for a combination approach, which is a good idea.

Now that I’ve warmed you up with some background – off to the main topic…  I was first alerted to Cannon Beach’s concept via a news article about someone storing a firearm in their kit.  http://www.opb.org/news/article/should-your-emergency-preparedness-kit-include-a-firearm/.  The article states that an individual kept a firearm in their kit, which was stored by the city in a storage container which was broken into and stolen.  Firearms, by the way, are not permitted per the city’s guidance.  But should firearms (Cannon Beach’s program aside) be included in emergency kits?

Up front, I’d never recommend that firearms be kept in an emergency kit simply based upon liability.  That said, it’s an individual decision but could be a good idea.  Certainly anyone who chooses to do so should ensure that it is done legally and safely.  One must also consider why they want to have a firearm in their kit.  Is it for personal protection or for hunting?  Or both?  In the case of the article I referenced, it was a handgun, which could really only be used effectively for personal protection.

While we see very limited violence and looting during disasters, it certainly could be possible.  I would never suggest that someone not have the ability to protect themselves or their family.  I would suggest, however, that anything in your kit should have as many purposes as possible.  A handgun is less than ideal for hunting.  However, including a firearm for hunting (rifle or shotgun) will likely exceeded the physical space of your kit, so this needs to be considered.

I would also suggest that, again just like anything else in your kit, you be proficient in using it. Among the few who keep and maintain preparedness kits, many buy things and just stick them in there.  They never read the instructions or become familiar with their use.  Consider a water purifier for example.  Any brand that I’m familiar with needs to be submerged and backwashed prior to use to remove smaller particulates from the carbon filter.  If someone is keeping something as dangerous as a firearm, they had better be proficient in its use!

The bottom line is that we are not likely to see a scenario out of The Walking Dead.  While we have seen some devastating incidents, such as Hurricane Katrina, which had limited the effectiveness of law enforcement for a time, this is not the norm within disasters.  Some may be considering an extreme, perhaps apocalyptic, scenario, and wanting to protect themselves, which is fine.  Just be smart about it.

What are your thoughts on firearms in emergency kits?  How about the municipal storage of kits like Cannon Beach’s program?

Lots of food for thought…

© 2015 – Timothy Riecker

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC

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