Sep 10

Preparing for Civil Unrest. Body armor and sandbags for everyone!

Do you believe that the majority of people wake up each day minus malicious intent? I do. I believe that most people live their lives every day just wanting to do the right thing, perform well at their job and provide for their family. They want to help their kids achieve a greater level of success than they did. They want to avoid conflict and for the most part are cautious, maybe blowing through a red light once in a while or cutting off another driver while mumbling empty threats. Most people would stop to give you directions if you asked or hold a door open for you and say “after you.”  Acknowledging all of the above you might believe most people are not capable of violence against their fellow man, and in doing so you would be wrong.  All it takes is one small incident and a subsequent snowball of supporting events to turn those once decent people into a vicious mob willing to loot, burn, rape and even kill.  So I ask you this: what is your plan to defend your neighborhood, home, and loved ones if/when they come for what you have?

As preppers one of our challenges is preparing for a wide range of circumstances which could threaten life as we know it. Planning for natural disasters or economic uncertainties are often well recognized in the prepping community, but what about planning for civil unrest and the subsequent violence which follows?

In this post I will show you that while people might seem rather innocuous overall; history has proven that when the chips are down politeness and care for the common man can be replaced by rage and a complete disregard for life altogether. I will show you many examples in the last few decades of the evil that exists just below the surface in people and how desperation or lack of authority swings the door wide open for it (evil) to manifest itself . I will show you that relying on the police or National Guard to protect you in every circumstance is simply unrealistic.  Finally I will discuss some solutions on how to prepare for these threats and hope that you take the time to examine your own plan, if you even have one.

Recently in one of my Prep Updates I linked to an article entitled When the music stops and how America’s cities may explode in violence. The author, Matt Bracken, describes in detail what will happen once society has been turned inside out.

The ransacked supermarkets, convenience stores, ATMs and gas stations will not be restocked during this period due to the precarious security situation. A single truck loaded with food or gasoline would be perceived to be a Fort Knox on wheels and subject to immediate attack unless heavily protected by powerfully armed security forces, but such forces will not be available during this chaotic period. Under those conditions, resupply to the urban areas cannot and will not take place. The downward spiral of social and economic dysfunction will therefore both accelerate and spread from city to city. These delays, in turn, will lead to more riots with the constant underlying demand that hungry people be fed, one way or another.

The violence he describes might seem far fetched but I’m about to show you plenty of examples which suggest otherwise.

The Evil Inside.

People often believe that what Bracken describes could only happen elsewhere, and by that I mean some other city/county/state than their own. Here are some examples of civil unrest and the violence that accompanied it, all of which took place within the US over the past few decades.

Oakland Protest Riot, 2010

In the ensuing hours, a small clutch of rioters burned the contents of trash cans, dumpsters, newspaper boxes and set fire to at least five cars, including an Oakland police patrol car.  Some rioters jumped from parked car to parked car, smashing in the front and rear windshield like crushed eggshells. The riot spread deep into the Lakeside Apartments District and cars were burned and heavily damaged on Madison Street. Other rioters in this clutch broke storefront windows, to include those of a McDonalds fast food restaurant at Jackson and 14th Streets in the Lakeside Apartments District.

 Post Katrina Looting, 2005

“The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.”  Incapacitated by the breakdown of transportation and communication, as well as overwhelmed numerically, police officers could do little to stop crime, and shopkeepers who remained behind were left to defend their property alone.  Looters included gangs of gunmen,  and gunfire was heard in parts of the city. Along with violent, armed robbery of non-essential valuable goods,  many incidents were of residents simply taking food, water, and other commodities from unstaffed grocery stores

Puerto Rican Day Parade Attacks, 2000 

Soon after, another victim, skating down Central Park South was assaulted by a group of men. She was pulled to the ground and the assailants attempted to remove her shorts. The men eventually gave up after stealing her cell phone. The victim then attempted to report the attack to a policeman who ignored her.  Dozens of women were subsequently mobbed and assaulted. One of the last attacks was on a trio of British tourists at around 6:48 p.m. The three teenagers were sitting on a fence in the park when a group of men began groping them. One of the teenagers was forcibly separated from her group, stripped, and raped. After a brief respite, a second group of men came upon her and assaulted and robbed her.

LA Riots over Rodney King, 1992

Fifty-three people died during the riots, including ten who were shot dead by police and military forces, with as many as 2,000 people injured. Estimates of the material losses vary between about $800 million and $1 billion.  Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. Widespread looting also occurred. Stores owned by Korean and other Asian immigrants were widely targeted, although other stores owned by whites and blacks were targeted by rioters as well.

New York City Blackout of 1977

Looting and vandalism were widespread, hitting 31 neighborhoods, including most poor neighborhoods in the city. Possibly the hardest hit were Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores looted, 45 of them set ablaze.

Watts Riots of 1965 

Those actively participating in the riots started physical fights with police, blocked firemen of the Los Angeles Fire Department from their safety duties, or beat white motorists. Arson and looting were mostly confined to primarily white-owned stores and businesses that were that were said to have caused resentment in the neighborhood due to perceived unfairness. Los Angeles police chief Parker publicly described the people he saw involved in the riots as acting like “monkeys in the zoo”.  Overall, an estimated $40 million in damage was caused as almost 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Our heroes might not always be there to help. 

I have the greatest respect for our men and women in uniform be they police, firefighter or  military.  I have friends in all of those career fields and they are truly good people who want to help others.  Yet I also realize that there are times when they simply cannot be there for me should I need their assistance.  A common phrase among concealed carry permit holders is: “I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.” Below are some examples of just how relevant that statement is.

American Police Beat.  Response times- city to city

In Atlanta last year it took, on average, 11 minutes and 12 seconds from the time a high-priority 911 call was received until an Atlanta police officer showed up at the scene. The response times reported by the El Paso (Texas) Police Department were only one second quicker than Atlanta’s, with an average of 11 minutes and 11 seconds. The Denver Police Department posted a response time of 11 minutes flat. According to the Journal Constitution story, police in Tucson, Ariz., responded, on average, in 10 minutes and 11 seconds.

911 is a joke

The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.

Berkeley Man Murdered After Police ‘Pre-Occupied’ With Occupy Movement Failed to Respond to Initial 911 Call

Police issued a statement Monday night that said the initial call was for trespassing and that because on-duty officers were being reconfigured for the protest; only emergency calls were to be handled. Police said they did immediately responded to a 911 call about an assault in the same area that came later that evening, but it was too late. Peter Cukor, 67, had been beaten to death with a flower pot. The suspect, 23-year-old Daniel Dewitt, was taken into custody and will be arraigned on Wednesday.

So while our brave men and women in uniform are prepared to assist us (the general public) in any way possible, sometimes they simply cannot be there when it matters most.  Slow response times, a clogged or broken 911 system or even other events which take precedence over responding to calls mean one thing: when it all goes to hell in a hand basket you could be on your own. Remember that all of the examples I listed in the beginning of this post were somewhat contained to localized areas.  Should something major go down across the country you had better believe that there will not be enough law enforcement or National Guard on hand to contain the civil unrest once people start running out of the basic necessities.  If that happens you’d better have some sort of plan for survival.

Gun owners, life isn’t a video game.  Be realistic and stay alive.

Right about now you guys with 10 guns in the safe and a couple thousand rounds of ammo aren’t in the least bit concerned.  You might have some military or law enforcement background or go shooting with your buddies on the weekends.  You are confident in your skills and even attended one of those “tactical shooting” courses at the local range.  While that is all fine and dandy one thing you need to remember is that bowling pins, milk jugs, cardboard and steel targets don’t shoot back.  If you are caught in a situation where you need to defend your neighborhood and home from people hell bent on violence, running from car to car in your 5.11 Tactical gear and shooting like you are in a video game will only guarantee one thing: you will be dead.  Instead let’s examine some realistic tips for training for the real fight.  I would like to cite the works of Paul Howe, an experienced operator who is the Owner/Lead Instructor for CSAT and has over 30 years experience in law enforcement, military and security arenas.

If the Sh*t Hits The Fan and you see the bad guys coming, before you toss your kit on and lock and load your AR15 there are a few things you should know.  I’m pulling all of this info right from Paul’s published articles.

Shootings vs Gunfights.

First, I learned through experience that I would rather be in a “Shooting” than a “Gunfight.” The difference is simple. A shooting is one-way event, all the shooting is done by me. The gunfight is where your opponent has the opportunity to fight back. I prefer the shooting to the gun fight as getting shot at leads to getting shot and this hurts.

The importance of physical fitness.

Beyond shooting, physical fitness is also critical to mission success. The better shape you are in, the less likely you are to get hurt and if you do get hurt, you will heal faster. I watch too many individuals today who rely on their weapon to solve all the problems. The problem is that you have to move that weapon to a solid shooting position not once, but multiple times during an engagement. This requires strength, stamina and endurance. Many folks do not have the physical conditioning to get to or stay in the fight.

The use of cover.

I push the use of cover to all my students. Brick walls and dirt stop bullets better than your Kevlar or “Chicken Plate.” Many of the competitions that I have viewed or participated in have the shooter exposed to multiple targets during the course of fire. This is okay for the game, but if you overexpose yourself to multiple opponents, they can all shoot at you, where you can effectively focus on only one individual at a time. You lose.

Fortifying yourself and your home.

If the mobs come they will be looking for easy targets, or soft targets.  They will be looking to inflict the most damage, steal and pillage at will while incurring the least amount resistance.  These types are generally untrained in any form of combat or tactics so they will be loosely organized and erratic in nature.  Your advantage should be that you are a hard target.  You want to be the resistance they encounter which makes them think twice about advancing to that next block.  You want to make them reconsider why they are there, that they probably have somewhere else they would rather be.  Here are some ways you can achieve that superiority.

1- Community. There is no such thing as a one man army.  One highly trained individual might be able to hold off quite a few unruly people but it would only be so long before he or she became overwhelmed.  You have to sleep sometime, don’t you?  Engage your neighbors in conversation and see who you can trust to defend your street/block/subdivision if things go sideways.  Even a halfway organized defense by neighbors who are determined to protect what they love will be able to fend off anything short of guys in pickups with fully automatic weapons and mortars.

2- Know your neighborhood.  It’s more than just putting on your body armor and waiting in your second floor bedroom with a 308 sniper rifle.  You need to become familiar with the layout of your neighborhood and how it relates to your home.  If people were to approach on foot what would be their most likely route?  If they were to approach in cars what would their most likely route be?  What would be the greatest threat to you, in other words their most dangerous activity?  Burning down all the homes in your neighborhood?  If that is the case and you simply could not hold out any longer where would you fall back to and how would you get there?  These are all considerations that must be planned for.

3- Training, we all need it.  If you can put 10 rounds into an 8 inch piece of cardboard from 10 yards away during a flat range fire, that’s great.  While respectable it might not mimic actual conditions under which you might have to conduct a defense.  While range time is great try to concentrate on the little things first and worry about the sexy things (speed reloading, walking and shooting) later.  Know your weapon, know how to employ it, and know the implications for having to utilize it in a crazy/life or death situation.

4- Body Armor.  It’s really not that expensive and is much more comfortable to wear than most people think.  Check out BulletProofMe.com for education and information on all types of body armor, plates, and helmets.  While it is more bulky than a sweat suit I’d rather have the extra protection in a gunfight than trust my ninja bullet dodging skills.

5- Sandbags. Lots of places online sell sandbags for cheap.  Most homes today are constructed of material that wouldn’t stop a 22LR bullet, much less a more common AK47 (7.63×39) round.  Just because you are huddled behind your second floor bedroom window sill does not mean that a good burst of semi auto fire couldn’t penetrate right through that cheap brick, vinyl and drywall.  Stack a few sandbags up there and you are in much better shape.  Combine sandbags with the use of body armor and you are in great shape.


Let’s recap everything I’ve gone over in a few short sentences.  People are generally nice but that doesn’t mean we should believe they won’t turn on each other when the chips are down.  History has proven over and over again that even the most docile individuals are capable of extreme acts of violence.  While one would like to believe that our brave men and women in uniform will always be there to protect us, that simply is not reality.  Preparing for civil unrest situations which could include defending homes and neighborhoods from potentially deadly individuals or mobs bent on destruction is truly a likely scenario.  Finally, prior planning which includes collecting the right supplies and getting the proper training will greatly increase the chances of survival should the S Hit The Fan.  I hope this post has been informative and if anything sparked some interest about where you stand relative to the topic at hand.  As always happy prepping!


Always make sure you check with local, state and federal laws before purchasing guns, ammo, or body armor.  While most of us are in the business of preparing for crazy times, those crazy times are not upon us in full force just yet so operating within the constraints of the law is always suggested. Do your homework first and then implement your plan.  
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1 comment

  1. Ranger W

    Police, fire fighters, and national guard all generally have families to support and defend… If we have a financial meltdown in this country and all of a sudden municipal or government paychecks stop flowing or the currency they depict becomes worthless how many days do you think that police officer will be standing out on the street? Im not questioning their dedication to duty or calling them greedy. You just have to assume anyone would do at least as much as you to feed their families. Again if the money is worthless or if the checks flat out stop how many military bases do you think are going to have soldiers there?

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