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An interview with Michael Bane
by Gila Hayes
In this month’s journal, you will find several articles exploring concerns that parallel those of the defense-minded armed citizen: preparing to survive disasters. As Michael Bane points out in this lead interview, meaningful preparation to assure food, water, fuel and other needs during a disruption is an easy extension of the armed citizen’s mindset because we have studied and prepared ourselves for predictable dangers.
Bane, the host of TV Outdoor Channel’s The Best Defense: Survival series has crafted two seasons of interesting programming on living through disasters like Hurricane Katrina, epidemics, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and earthquakes, to name only a few, focusing on food, water, medical needs, personal defense, transportation and related issues.
We interviewed Bane at the January 2011 SHOT Show. Just one strength of Bane’s presentation style is his ability to interject self-effacing, irreverent humor into the most serious of topics, a skill that helps leaven an otherwise tedious message. Thus, hoping to preserve the tone of the conversation, we switch now to a Q & A format.
eJournal: First, congratulations on receiving the Grits Gresham Shooting Sports Communicator Award recently. I was so pleased to see your years of work recognized.
Bane: It’s one of the seven signs of the apocalypse!
eJournal: But seriously, I’m delighted that you were honored, because the award specifically recognizes journalists who reflect Grit Gresham’s talent for informing a widely varied audience about the value of firearms and shooting sports.
Bane: This time, it also recognizes new media: video and broadcast. They’ve never given the award outside of print. It is an acknowledgement of the growing power of the shooting segment vs. the hunting segment of the industry. The NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) numbers from 2009 showed that hunting is no longer in the top three drivers of people coming into the gun culture. It is now concealed carry, it is training, and it is sport shooting.
eJournal: You’ve been pointing out the appeal of sport shooting for years and you were finally acknowledged.
Bane: I think we’ve seen a wholesale market shift, what I call Gun Culture v. 2.0. Of course, look at the research on concealed carry. The amazing thing about concealed carry [legislation] is that it has never failed. Never! It may be delayed, but in the end, it always passes, which is amazing in cultural terms.
eJournal: One of your projects that ties in to concealed carry is your work with The Best Defense: Survival TV series. I’m exploring armed citizens and planning for natural disasters, and would like to learn your outlook on the role of armed personal protection in these scenarios.
Bane: I look at all preparedness as ultimately the same, whether it is concealed carry or prepping yourself in your home to sit out a natural disaster. Typically, you are carrying a concealed weapon. Well, in your head, you have already made that decision: you’ve said, “I’m prepared to protect myself.”
eJournal: How does predatory behavior change during a disaster?
Bane: I think a certain level of predatory behavior is tamped down by the nature of society. We are pack animals. When in large clusters, we see each other as primates and we all act moderately. We tend to moderate ourselves, and therefore the predator becomes the aberration.
When 9-1-1 or the streetlights are removed, you see behaviors start changing as you did in Hurricane Katrina. Predators who would have been tamped down by the social norm see other predators who would not have been tamped down by the social norms, acting and simply having no consequences. At the point where there is no consequence, they think, “Why not?” In the Katrina scenario, a large number of people were able to look out and say, “Look! That guy just killed Joe Bob, and nobody came to get him! Well, I’m getting mine!” And the longer a situation runs, the more likely you are to have some level of break down.
eJournal: The small-time predator is going to become…
Bane: Empowered. I’ve been privileged to talk to first responders who have been involved in basically every major disaster around the world in 10-15 years and I always ask them, “Tell me what you’ve learned?” One guy said to me, “I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, but you can’t put it on television.”
I said, “What is that?”
“We are all heavily armed, all of us!”
A good many of the first responders are armed, because as he said, “Quite frankly, I’m tired of being shot at. I’m trying to do some good here, and there is a group of people who do not want you to do good. There is a group of people who benefit from what ever is happening.”
eJournal: So they don’t just want to steal the ambulance or the drugs? They do not want order restored?
Bane: Why should they? [Without order] you get to go to the jewelry store and get anything you want. But more than being empowered, they are now able to act out a certain level of fantasy. I believe that as disasters progress that becomes worse and worse.
The odd thing is that if you know in advance that the situation is going to disintegrate, it changes how you are going to act. What we’ve tried to do with The Best Defense: Survival is to understand that things change and that the point at which they start changing, is where your response needs to change.
I think there is fragility to the system that most people don’t like to acknowledge.
eJournal : What part of the system?
Bane: We always kind of joked about Hurricane Katrina, that you would have thought that the veneer of civilization would have lasted longer than three days! But it didn’t. You would think the entirety of Western civilization could have held for a little longer than three days, wouldn’t you? It didn’t.
You’ve seen similar things in the currency collapse in Argentina in 2005. Literally, it went from sophisticated people sitting at sidewalk cafés sipping latte-chinos to people trading .22 LRs and sex for food. And it went that way in six months.
eJournal: Your examples raise other questions. Katrina’s always been the big scenario we cite because we can still remember it. But I think we may err by saying, well, hurricanes don’t happen in my state. Then we fail to plan for predictable hazards. You also mention the currency collapse. Now, what other disasters should we learn about?
Bane: There is a book called Six Deadly Scenarios. It looked at scenarios that war gamers didn’t have solutions for. I’ve spent some time with a medical guy, a highend epidemiologist for a large part of the United States, who was involved in securing weaponized drugs around the world.
I asked, “What keeps you awake at night?” and he goes, “Quick example: pandemic flu in Mexico City.” The Mexican medical system, which is at best hanging, on collapses. Then the Mexican government collapses and you have 20 million infected people moving North to the boarder. We are humanitarians, but the American medical system cannot sustain 20 million extra people over and above what we have.
eJournal : This reads like a list of apocalyptic plagues. We have already had wind, flood and disease. What else?
Bane: Certainly the electromagnetic pulse scenario. I asked a real high-speed government guy about that and his response was, “We’re not going to talk to you about it.”
I went, “Not going to talk to me about it, or won’t talk to me about it?”
And he said, “What’s the difference?”
I said, “Are the scenarios good? I know you gamers run scenarios all the time,” and he goes, “The scenarios range from bad to Holy Crap.”
eJournal: In other words, the EMP scenario was not solvable.
Bane: It is not solvable.
I asked, “So what are you doing?”
He said, “There’s a huge program to harden military installations.”
I said, “What about for civilians?”
He said, “We’ll harden military installations first.” It was as if he said, for you guys, best of luck! We wish you all the best in your new career as food gatherers. [Bane chuckles darkly then grows serious]
Do I think the world’s going to end tomorrow? No. But, with globalization, with increased interdependence, comes increased fragility. For the Survival TV programming next season, we’re asking what’s the scariest scenario? For me, the scariest is a financial collapse because it happens amazingly quickly. The Argentina scenario went from people asking, “Is there anything wrong?” followed immediately by [Bane mimes horrified expression, fluttering his hands], “Good Lord! What just happened?” The currency simply just went away. We’ve seen that in hyperinflations around the world.
eJournal: You’ve repeatedly stressed how fast breakdown occurs. You travel a lot. How do you manage your preparations while you are away from home? At home you have your rifle or shotgun. If trouble lasts a long time, you can kill the deer or elk and eat well.
Bane: Here’s an example: after 9/11 Walt Rausch [who lives in an Eastern state] was in Texas. He said, “I rented a car, and I drove all across the country with a Smith & Wesson J-frame and five rounds of ammunition.” Nothing happened, but he said, “I will never do that again.”
eJournal: How do you apply that lesson to your life?
Bane: I generally travel with firearms. If I’m going to some place like California that bothers me, I’ll typically carry a long gun packed away. I would like to think that I could get out of Los Angeles if I had to. I’m also spookier about traveling at odd times. For example, a few years back, there was an odd viral outbreak and we cancelled filming. I said, “We simply are not going to do this.”
Just this morning, I was talking with our producers for Shooting Gallery and for Cowboys. They were preparing to leave next week for a major adventure race in Patagonia. The Chilean government collapsed yesterday, because they raised gasoline prices. The people in Chile responded by going on a five-day general strike. At the end of the fifth day, the government collapsed.
Again, this is like from zero to 100 miles an hour; it happened really quickly. So, if you happened to be in Chile, you definitely were caught out. They [program producers] cancelled all appointments. Everything is absolutely scrapped for the obvious reason: they can’t risk it. You can die in stuff like that, and you can die quickly.
eJournal: You would know because of your extensive travels.
Bane: Yes. I know that travel is supposed to broaden you and you come back as a citizen of the world. I’ve traveled internationally a lot and I’ve come back saying, “You can have it!”
For example, I traveled extensively in Central America with its quasi-governments. I was in Honduras and as a military truck came by, the woman I was with said, “Step off the curb.”
I said, “What for?” I was standing on the sidewalk and it was pouring tropical rain.
She said, “Step off the curb, take your hat off, look at the ground.”
I said, “I’m an American. I need a better explanation.”
She said, “They will disappear you in the jungle so fast your head will spin. When the military walks down the sidewalk, you step off, step into the curb, put your head down, take your hat off, and don’t look them in the eye.”
eJournal: You learned how not to be an American at that moment.
Bane: You have to! If you travel in Eastern Europe or some place like that, again, you see fragility in the system. It doesn’t take much to shake the system. The more you look at the system, that level of fragility scares you. I think nobody can really grasp the speed at which things fall apart.
eJournal: If you were speaking directly to Joe and Mary Gunowner and you were telling them how to survive a disaster, what would be your core advice?
Bane: Have some kind of plan! I’m not saying have a macro, bulletproof plan. If you have any kind of plan–any kind of plan! – you are ahead of 90% of the people in this country!
Have a plan! Know what’s in your back yard. What’s the risk? I lived in Florida on the beach. I understood that hurricanes happen on the beach. So when a hurricane was coming, I wasn’t saying, “Huh? Can you believe there is a hurricane coming?!” [Mimes distressed gestures] Yeah, there is hurricane every year and some are bad.
I grew up in Tennessee along the New Madrid Fault, and you can say all you want that it is never going to happen again, but in the 1800s when the New Madrid Fault slipped it actually rang bells in Philadelphia, the Mississippi River flowed backwards and there were waterfalls, huge water falls in the Mississippi. There is a massive fault that runs between Memphis and St. Louis. So, is there a chance of an earthquake there? Well, duh, YEAH!
What is your risk? I now live in the mountains, in a Red Zone fire danger area.
eJournal: How have you prepared for that?
Bane: You must have a bug out bag; you must have a plan.
The scariest thing that happened to me this year: I was sitting in the Tulsa airport waiting to go home. My phone rang and it was the Boulder Sheriff’s Department, saying, “This is a mandatory evacuation. Leave now!” And I called my girlfriend Denise, and I said, “Sweetheart, I have received a mandatory evac. Look out the window.” She says, “There’s smoke!” OK, here we go. I said, “There’s a bag, and there is a list in the bag. These are the things that you take.” It is terrifying. 15 minutes later they called back and said, “The evac line has moved. You can stay in your home.”
eJournal: Were Denise and Alf (Bane’s beagle) gone yet?
Bane: No, they were loading the car. Denise went to emergency services on the Internet where they regularly updated where the evac line was. You need to know that kind of thing.
eJournal: Good for her! She knew where to go for information. We need to know that, too. What are some of your favorite sources of information?
Bane: Where is the information? That is critical! I live in a town with a police department of five. You can call them, but there are only two lines and both will be busy. They will not be reachable. They are busy with other things.
eJournal: In a widespread emergency 9-1-1 and other services are not going to be available if you call them after things fall apart. You had better know what to do from other information sources.
Bane: Just have a plan. [Sighs] Any plan. Especially if you have a family, your spousal unit needs to understand what you are doing. A lot of times that can be really unpleasant. Denise and I had to say, “We need to talk about what we are willing to leave behind when we run.” They don’t truly fight wildfire. They establish a line that they hope to stop it at.
eJournal: Your home may be on the wrong side of that line.
Bane: They’ll feel real bad about it, but there is nothing they can do about it. For example, we’ve had beetle kill all along the West Slope in Colorado. There are literally millions of acres of dead trees that are now four and five years dead so they are tinder. If it burns, there is no way to stop a fire. They’ll stop it at the Continental Divide. There are not enough firefighters in America to hold the line.
eJournal: They would be foolish to risk human lives in a no-win fight against that much fuel. But we were talking about Intel – what are your best sources to learn what is happening today?
Bane: I endlessly scour the Internet. I’m probably moderately obsessive in just going from ’site to ’site to ’site.
Part of it is a necessary intellectual curiosity: “I live here. What’s ever happened here before?”
I asked my neighbors, “When was the last major wildfire that hit us?” If you are in Florida, ask, “When was the last time you had a hurricane that knocked your power out for five days or more?”
For my friend Marshall Holloway who does Down Range TV, when was the last time you had an ice storm that took your power out for more than a day?
Those are interesting data points, because then you start figuring out what do you actually need to do. My producer on The Best Defense: Survival was out of power for 14 days after the last major ice storm in Oklahoma. 14 days in the winter is nippy! But he had thought it through; he knew what he had to do. His heating system was not dependent on the grid, so he was irritated and inconvenienced, but that is better than sitting in your house trying to figure out how to keep warm at zero degrees!
You start out by trying to figure out what is going on in your neighborhood. Then go on the Internet. Ask the professionals. I do know my local cops, though I know that is harder to do if you are in New York City or in Los Angeles.
Ask how much information can I collect? Is there material that I should have on hand? What do I need?
Gosh, you need water! You need a lot more water than you think! Do you have it outside your door? I live 200 yards from a reservoir, so I also have vast amounts of iodine to purify it. Iodine does taste like crap, but on the other hand, I’ve purified water in Central America, that you would look at it in retrospect and you’d go, “Chewy water!” If you dump enough iodine in it, it is not going to make you sick. I appreciate the super ultra deluxe micro filter thing, but using it is work! You’re pushing water through a micron filter, whereas with iodine you can filter it with a Kleenex and drink it. I have, and it didn’t make me sick!
Other than water, you need food. You need a week’s worth of food. You just buy extra of what you already eat. Peanut butter; simple things. Prescription medicines are huge. Most people never think about their prescription medicines. Do you have enough to get through?
eJournal: How do you stockpile prescriptions and how do you deal with expiration dates?
Bane: You need a doctor you can talk to. Say, “I need a prescription for six months, not for a week and a half.” Things like glasses, too. Have lots of pairs of glasses lying around, even if it is just saving the old ones. Is it the best prescription? No. Can you at least see to do something? Can you get a sight picture?
eJournal: Can you see well enough to drive?
Bane: It is easy to fall off the end of the world. My friend James Rawles who runs the Survival Blog, which is the premier survival blog, may have fallen off the end of the world. He is a former military intelligence guy, and he knows way too much. Even he says absolutely the first thing is, “What do I need for a week? Then, what do I need for a month? And then, when you start going out to the very end–a Red Level Disaster, a disaster that is going to run longer than 90 days, think Katrina, a currency collapse, a tsunami–what is going to save your life?
You have to sneak up on that.
eJournal: But you have done that by preparing for your 10-day block, and then your month-long block of time.
Bane: After you’re prepared for a month, then preparing yourself for six months is not so daunting, because you know what you have to do.
I’ve talked to high-end first responders. One of my first questions was, “If you have to, how long can you go to ground? Right now. If the balloon goes up right now, how long can you go to ground?” The average is six months. The guys who are on the front lines, who went to Haiti for the earthquake, who went to the Pacific Rim for the tsunami, they’re like, “Six months is a fair number for us.” As one guy said, “That’s your breaking point.” He goes, “Six months will get you through 99% of everything, and the other 1% is so scary that even if you do everything right, in an area-wide disaster, it is still a screaming crap shoot.”
eJournal: But, during that six months, you have time to look ahead and ask, “Now what do I do? Do I butcher one of the cows? Or should I breed the cattle?”
Bane: All of this is interesting because it is merely an extension of what we already do. If you say, “I am prepared to defend myself on the street tomorrow,” how much more complicated is it to be ready for more?
eJournal: And we would like to learn more from you, Michael. Please tell us about the TV show you host, The Best Defense: Survival.
Bane: Season three starts running in July, we have more and more information on Down Range TV. We just keep adding to it and adding to it. eJournal: July’s a long time to wait, but there must be reruns we can watch until then! Michael, thank you for sharing this information with Network members today.
Watch Bane’s The Best Defense: Survival on Outdoor Channel. More information at http://www.outdoorchannel.com/Shows/BestDefenseSurvival.aspx
What does it matter if your gun has a catchy model name? I am referring to the names that gun manufacturers put on guns, in order to create hype and to sell them. The first such gun I was really aware of was the Colt Python, along with the other Colt revolvers such as the Detective Special, Trooper and Cobra. Of course, Smith and Wesson also had decided to name their guns way back then, with monikers such as the Highway Patrolman, Combat Masterpiece and Chief’s Special. The practice was commonplace at least as far back as the 1970s and even before.
Now, I have no problem with any of the aforementioned names, as they are not likely to engender a lot of emotion from a jury if they were to be used as a self-defense tool. But I fear manufacturers have gone over the edge nowadays, because of the names they are putting on guns and the public advertising which accompanies those names. People will end up being imprisoned for no more of an excuse than using a gun with an inflammatory name.
For example, there is a VERY popular offering from Taurus, called The Judge. In fact, even one model of that line is now called the Raging Judge. Can you imagine the prosecution’s argument that you, the defendant, not only wanted to be the judge, jury and executioner of the poor, helpless deceased criminal, you actually went out and bought a gun to start the process! You bought the Judge, became the Jury and acted as an Executioner to the poor, helpless victim. You may ask, “But, Marty, no one will believe that, will they?” Well, let’s look at what Taurus themselves say about the Magnum Judge on their website:
SAME JUDGE, STIFFER SENTENCE
Now there’s a Taurus Judge with even more stopping power - The 3” MAGNUM. Larger and more powerful, this Judge gives you the choice of hard-hitting .410 GA. 3 - inch magnum as well as 2.5 inch shot shells and .45 Colt ammunition. This outstanding combo gun has already been proven effective for home defense, personal protection and as a pack gun on the trail. Whatever the situation - The Taurus Judge lays down the law. Now with 3” Magnum rounds for MAGNUM stopping power.
Even a layman, after reading that aloud, could convince a grand jury that the good ol’ boy that slapped on his Judge and went looking for blood should be tried for a crime. Of course, the indictment is all but assured if the lawyers intersperse their arguments with this gun’s inflammatory TV advertisements which show blowing up watermelons with a sound track screeching out more provocative rhetoric. Excuse me, but I don’t think I will be buying one for self defense anytime soon.
Of course, Taurus is not alone. In fact, even staid Smith and Wesson has jumped on the hyperbole bandwagon with their copy of the Judge, called The Governor. What’s next in the series, The Senator? Give me a break! Just this month, we saw a nut case with a Glock 19 shoot a U.S. Congresswoman, a Federal Court Judge and several others. I cannot envision owning stock in a gun company that labels its guns in such a way. Of course, sales will likely skyrocket and that will keep the current stockholders happy. [Heavy sigh.]
Let’s demonstrate some sanity, okay, gun manufacturers? Next time you name a gun model, think of the poor slob who actually uses your Executioner-labeled blaster, and ends up having to defend him- or herself in court. Will you help with the legal fees, or have your marketing agent come to court and explain why the defendant should not be held responsible for your marketing genius? Likely not, I would surmise.
But we, as an armed citizenry do have a stake here, and we do have a vote. We vote with our dollars. I would encourage all members of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, LLC to simply pass up any opportunity to buy guns with such inflammatory model names. And, by the way, the same goes for ammunition, too.
by Gila Hayes
Which danger more commonly costs human life? Injury or death from criminal assault or the same risks from chemical spill, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or avalanche?
Depending on sources, it is estimated that over 1,450 people died in the greater New Orleans area during the worst 7-10 days of Hurricane Katrina, while fewer than 200 murders were recorded in New Orleans in all of 2008. Recognizing that Hurricane Katrina was particularly awful, consider the approximately 740 people who died over the five days of the Chicago-area’s 1995 heat wave, compared to the 824 murdered in that city in all 12 months of that same year. And those figures only record deaths, not serious injury or emotionally debilitating harm.
Network members are generally self-reliant folks who know that defense against attacks requires individual action since police are capable of only reactive responses. While a natural disaster may afford better pre-emptive responses, there are considerable parallels in the preparation to survive emergencies of all kinds. As with self defense, your longevity is linked to how much you know about the dangers and how to avoid them.
With all this in mind, when I learned about the book IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by our own Network member Bill Liebsch and his wife Janet, I was eager to ask him some questions.
Liebsch estimates that only about 15% of Americans have taken concrete steps to prepare for fires, floods, chemical spills – or the other common natural disasters reported on the evening news. The rest, he opines, dodge responsibility, expecting that the government will take care of their every need. They believe, “Let the government take care of you. You are not capable of being responsible,” he comments.
Alternatively, “Preppers” enthusiastically embrace learning how to take care of themselves, laying in supplies and detailing emergency plans to guide family members through a variety of emergencies. Not everyone will embrace preparation for disaster quite so avidly, but with minimal expense anyone can improve their ability to survive common emergencies. This is Liebsch’s advice.
One can scarcely listen to the news without being warned about one catastrophe or another. Which ones deserve top priority? Liebsch recommends preparing to survive the common disruptive events native to your locale. “Not the catastrophic ones,” he emphasizes, “but the most common ones. 90% of the time, those are what you are going to be dealing with.” These could include lengthy electrical outages, or travel restrictions owing to winter storms, floods, debris or damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, fires or earthquakes, for example.
Uncertain which dangers are most common? Contact your local Emergency Management office or the local branch of Citizen Corps to see if they have a Community Emergency Response Team or CERT, Liebsch suggests. These folks “are your neighbors and are taking it upon themselves to get some basic training so they can help their neighbors stay safe,” he explains. They’ll have information about “tornadoes or hurricanes in your area, whether you have forest fires, river issues, a potential for chemical spills, a military base nearby that is a target for terrorism or one that has a large depot of chembio material or ammunition,” he adds.
Liebsch’s website, www.itsadisaster.net, introduces another planning tool marketed to consultants and organizations that help folks prepare. Called Depiction, Liebsch explains that the software is “kind of like Google Earth. You can combine information from the web or your own files into an interactive world then build a ‘what if?’ scenario. What if this river rises by 10 feet causing flooding? What effect would that have when I live here, work here, and my children go to school over there? You click the button and it gives you a simulation. This bridge would be out, these roads would be impassible, and in order to get your children, you have to take this route. It highlights it so you know what to do. It has networking capability, so others can share and learn the situation,” he explained.
Hazards like dam failures, chemical spills or wildfires obviously call for immediate evacuation. These are the exceptions, Liebsch teaches. He estimates a majority of common hazards are survived best “by sheltering in place.” Even faced with nuclear fallout, the 7/10 rule dictates immediately finding enclosed shelter. “If you are not within the immediate blast area, you can survive it if you do not panic. You only have a few minutes to get into a shelter,” he explains.
Liebsch explains that radiation survival exploits the time before the radiation plume moves from the release site to your location. “Say it is a 500 RAD exposure from a small nuclear device,” he illustrates. “Maybe you have fifteen minutes before fallout starts dropping in your zone. That gives you time to make sure there will be no infiltration into your home then get to your basement with supplies and get as much shielding around you as possible. If you wait just seven hours – just SEVEN hours – the RAD drops from 500 to 50. If you are exposed to 50 RAD for just 15 minutes as you are exiting the area, that’s not an issue. But if you jump out into 500 RAD and spend that 15 minutes evacuating, you are sick, and it may kill you” he predicts.
Away from home, individuals may be best served by simply carrying a copy of Liebsch’s book IT’S A DISASTER! or the eBook copy of it on their computer or mobile device. The eBook copy is nearly a giveaway at $2.50, downloadable at http://www.itsadisaster.net/home-consumer.html As with our members’ usual crime prevention methods, awareness of one’s surroundings and how and where to shelter, increases disaster survival when away from home.
Reiterating his advice to prepare for the most common natural disasters, Liebsch focuses most energy on steps to remain at home whenever possible during a disaster. Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can shut down travel, utilities and communication for considerable periods of time. Provisions for 72 hours is the usual recommendation, but Liebsch suggests supplies for seven to ten days or more.
If advice conjures visions of basements full of canned goods, Liebsch points out that he is not talking about stockpiling thousands of dollars worth of supplies. IT’S A DISASTER! has lists of recommended items, and Liebsch suggests all it takes is setting aside extras of storable food you ordinarily use. “Buy an extra large jar of peanut butter and some crackers,” he suggests. “Act like you are taking your family camping—in the back yard,” he quips. Other necessities include fuel for warmth and cooking, a radio to monitor outside conditions, FM walkie-talkie for communications, and batteries.
Next Liebsch recommends stockpiling cases of bottled water, adding that hot water heaters and hot tubs (with the right chemicals) store lots of water that some forget about. Shut incoming water valves, he recommends, because when service is restored the first flow may be contaminated. Other ingenious suggestions include freezing plastic gallon water jugs, using that ice initially to keep freezers and refrigerators cool, then using the water last. Water, like food, needs to be rotated about every six months or chemically treated, Liebsch adds.
For supplies, Liebsch ticks off, “Basic stuff: your water, food, fuel and of course, security. When you are prepping, try and work it out with your neighbors so everybody is prepping. If you are starting to prep, don’t tell a lot of people. You don’t want to let people know what you have because then you are a target for them to come and get it when they have problems. You have to make yourself number one,” Liebsch adds, explaining that during an emergency others who did not prepare should not expect you to bail them out.
The Liebsches’ book IT’S A DISASTER! is in its fifth edition, since its original release in 1999 by their publishing company Fedhealth. They originally compiled it in search of an economically feasible alternative to the numerous and expensive brochures and booklets handed out by Red Cross trainers in their educational programs. Fedhealth now prints five-figure runs two to four times a year. They continually update and verify information, and personalize segments of the book for specific community organizations, providing the book very inexpensively for resale as a fund raising tool for Scouts, church groups and others.
Instead of individuals relying on one brochure for poison treatment, a small booklet for first aid, another brochure for flood or forest fire strategies, IT’S A DISASTER! categorizes types of hazards, then outlines solutions in bulleted lists and other easy-to-absorb formats, with conditions and treatments described in layman’s language.
Twelve years into his mission to help Americans better prepare to take care of themselves and their own families, Liebsch relates that encouraging preparation is the hardest challenge he’s ever undertaken. “Everyone says, ‘Yeah, cool!’ But even among those who say, ‘Yeah, let’s do something,’ nobody does it. Nobody does it,” he laments. “They feel it isn’t going to happen to them,” he relates.
Liebsch named the book IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? as a wake up call. “Be aware. Be prepared and have a plan, because what you don’t know can kill you and those you love,” he urges. “It is your responsibility to do something about this stuff. Get your act together and be responsible. You are an adult. Take responsibility. That is my attitude on lots of things. That is why I am part of the Network and why I carry concealed. I am a sheep dog. I am not a sheep.”
Visit www.itsadisaster.net to obtain Leibsch’s book and for more information about preparing for natural disasters.
Thanks to the generous help of our Network Affiliated Attorneys in this column, we introduce our members to our affiliated attorneys while demystifying aspects of the legal system for our readers. This month, we continue with answers from our Affiliated Attorneys to this question—
Could you explain what “having an attorney on retainer” means, and answer a question callers frequently ask the Network, “Is having an attorney ‘on retainer’ useful for an armed citizen?”
Law Office of Kevin O’Grady, LLC
1136 Union Mall, Suite 704, Honolulu HI 96813
Attorneys across the country are bound by ethical rules of professional responsibility that define the parameters within which they may collect fees. Although I cannot speak to every jurisdiction, generally every attorney’s fee must be reasonable. There are a great many factors that are considered. Whatever the amount collected the attorney usually bills in one of a variety of ways. The first way, which is also most common, is the contingent fee. Think of personal injury cases and ads that say, “If we don’t win you don’t pay.” That’s almost completely accurate. Typically in a contingent fee case the attorney’s fees are a percentage, usually a third or a quarter or 40% of the amount collected. Of course out of $100k collected, a third going to the attorney, there can be other liens, such as doctors who provided medical care, etc. Of course there are also costs, such as court filing fees and experts. It is practically universal that attorneys cannot charge a contingent fee in a criminal defense case. If an attorney tries, contact the local bar association as this is probably unethical for him to do.
Attorneys may also charge a flat fee. A flat fee would be an amount that covers the entire case, however defined. Usually attorneys do this when they are very confident about the maximum amount of time and the average amount of time they spend on a given type of case. For example, a simple civil traffic ticket is usually charged as a flat fee. The fee could be $50 or $3,000 or whatever amount under the circumstances and it wouldn’t matter how many times the attorney went to court for you or how long it took to complete the case. The attorney, through the retainer agreement, defines the scope of work to be done. Thus, a minimum flat fee is also possible. In this scenario the attorney charges a flat fee for a number of hours. If fewer hours are worked the attorney still gets the entire flat fee. If more work is needed the attorney may charge another minimum flat fee.
Finally, an attorney may work hourly. Many attorneys and clients mistakenly call this a retainer agreement or arrangement. This is an incorrect use of the term. Typically when the attorney is working on an hourly basis, for example in a contested divorce case, the client deposits an advance fee. At the time of its deposit that money belongs to the client and is placed in the attorney’s trust account. If the attorney did no work then the fee would be returned to the client and the attorney cannot keep it.
An advance fee works in one of two ways. In the first scenario, assume a client places $5,000 with his attorney as an advance fee for a contested divorce. Many attorneys call this a retainer but it is in fact an advance fee. The attorney works at $250 per hour and over the next month works 4.2 hours. He submits a bill for $1,050. He may withdraw $1,050 from the $5,000 advance fee and the client replenishes the trust account with $1,050, maintaining the $5,000 balance. The client and attorney may have agreed that the withdrawal and replenishment occur in a particular order, replenishment first or withdrawal first or simultaneously. If the client does not replenish the trust account as the trust account balance gets smaller and smaller the attorney may choose to withdraw as, at some point, there will not be any money left to draw from for his work. Any monies remaining after the matter is finished are returned to the client.
So what IS having an attorney “on retainer?” Think of a big firm or the mob. Right now there is nothing going on. There is no current legal issue. Not even any legal advice sought for a future endeavor. However, the client wants to have “big shot attorney” on immediate standby. What this retainer does is buy the attorney’s availability because once the client calls in the attorney, the attorney belongs to the client. It is understood that the attorney cannot work on any clients or acquire any clients while on retainer that could cause a potential or actual conflict or that would take up the attorney’s time such that when the client calls in the attorney the attorney would be too busy or otherwise unavailable to do anything and everything that client needs. Therefore, while the attorney can work on other clients in the interim, the idea is that the continually paid retainer puts the client in a priority position.
Typically the retainer, since it only buys the attorney’s future availability, does not count toward hours to be worked once the attorney is called in. That would necessitate an advance fee or some other arrangement. Also typically, if the client is already paying this retainer he is “good” and need not pay an advance fee but the attorney would just bill and collect based on the number of hours worked. As can be seen, typically a retainer is an expensive endeavor for the client because it could be months or years before the attorney is called in and the client is all the while paying the retainer. Such a retainer must be worth the attorney’s while too so it is usually not insubstantial.
If you have the means and have determined the attorney is THE guy you want, then by all means consider this agreement. You can also talk to the attorney beforehand and determine his general availability and you could agree that you would call him first and a general outline of possible costs could be discussed. However, contractually, the attorney is not yours and bound to work for you when called in this case. It is problematic for an attorney to draft a contract without having a present legal issue to consider. As we can all dream a case could be only police contact and no charges brought or it can include everything up to attempted murder. It is unlikely a contract could be so broad to cover all the different possibilities.
The best course is probably to determine the attorneys you would like to represent you, cover basic generalities on fees and costs and availability and occasionally contact them to ensure that their skills, costs and availability have not changed considerably. Most important is the ability to contact them at ANY hour of the day.
Debbe von Blumenstein
Attorney at Law 154 SW Oak Street, Dallas, OR 97338
I have potential clients meet with me for a consultation at only $50. This gives us both a chance to check each other out. I inquire as to their training, concerns and needs and lifestyle issues. I inform on my background and cases I have handled and answer their specific questions on armed defense, self defense and the legal system. If at the end, we agree that I would be the attorney of choice then I provide my cards with all contact avenues and the “drill” I give my armed citizen clients for emergency and how to get a hold of me ASAP.
If there is no pending issue, I do not require a retainer amount at that time but the person can consider me their attorney for police contact/events. If something does arise, I will give first response and then we would determine my hire for that incident/event. (I also give them ballpark prices ahead of time in the event of an incident requiring an attorney arises for them).
I think it is useful to have an attorney already on board or in the wings and to keep some contact with them. As I tell my clients, if the bad thing happens and you are arrested and I have to go speak on your behalf before a prosecutor, it makes a big difference whether I go in and you’re just Joe Shmoe off the street or if I can vouch that I knew you before the incident, I have developed a rapport with you and already know about your background, training etc.
We appreciate the contributions our affiliated attorneys make to the Network, including their interesting responses to questions in this column. Contact information for our Network affiliated attorneys is linked at www.armedcitizensnetwork.org. Member log in required.
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—And Why
By Amanda Ripley
Published by www.threeriverspress.com
266 pages, paperback, $15.00
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
The Unthinkable is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a while. Amanda Ripley is without question a talented communicator, masterfully mixing stories with data and conclusions in a stirring call to self-reliance and self-improvement. It is not a particularly new book, first published in 2008 with a second edition released in 2009, but its message, drawn from disaster behavior and survival experiences ranging from the 1800s to 2007, deals not with current trends but with timeless human behavior.
Ripley’s book illustrates key points through interviews or research about survivors of many famous disasters, including the Virginia Tech Shooting, the World Trade Tower bombing and 9/11, numerous aircraft crashes, tsunamis, fires, panics in crowds, even SCUBA mishaps. Author and senior writer for Time magazine, Ripley interviewed victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. “Listening to survivors, I realized we’d been holding dress rehearsals for a play without knowing any of the lines,” Ripley explained.
Not only does Ripley suggest that government planning for disasters is all but impotently misguided, few citizens recognize or take steps to prevent what is most likely to cause their demise. More people die of food poisoning than drowning; more die of Alzheimer’s disease than fires, she writes in the book’s introduction. Being affected by a disaster, however, is considerably more likely than perishing in one.
How does this apply to us as armed citizens? I think Ripley is correct when she posits: “Human behavior is the same, whether we are in a cruise ship or a Honda. We can, strange as it may sound, learn how we will behave in earthquakes from studying how we behave in a holdup, and vice versa. Car accidents and shooting rampages are, like airplane crashes, modern calamities that we did not evolve to survive.”
“We need to get to know our oldest personality, the one that takes over in a crisis and even makes fleeting appearances in our daily lives. It is at the core of who we are…Without too much trouble, we can teach our brains to work more quickly, maybe even more wisely, under great stress. We have more control over our fates than we think. But we need to stop underestimating ourselves.”
Conversely, a later warning, mulling how slowly people leave a fire scene, warns against overestimating our quickness to respond during an unfamiliar emergency wherein the mind’s coping mechanisms like dissociative behavior overruns the base instinct to freeze, fight or run away. Citing the human tendency toward thinking we are better than we really are, Ripley warns against making survival decisions based on an inflated belief about personal ability. Later she quotes a college professor who is a disaster researcher who said, “Individuals underperceive risk…The individual says, It’s not going to be this plane, this bus, this time.”
I was delighted when Ripley addressed one of my pet peeves about the emergency warnings and announcements that pervade our daily lives. Members of the general public are rarely given useful information about what to do in an airplane crash, a subway fire, or other disaster. Instead, they are given insubstantive instructions, or at worst told to wait for official instructions and do as directed. What happens if the official instructions never get there? Officials in charge of these announcements denigrate the common citizen by disregarding their ability to take useful action. Instead, Americans are literally bombarded with warnings about everything from cancer to dirty bombs until, overwhelmed by so many warnings, we ignore the need to take realistic preparatory steps for likely hazards.
I’ve concluded that all these government warnings and threat levels actually do more harm than good. Interviews with Hurricane Katrina survivors taught Ripley more about preparation than “any homeland security conference” she’d covered, she writes. Further research took her to survivors of many kinds of disasters, into “fire houses and brain-research labs,” as she looked for common threads in human survival behavior. To her surprise, she found her own anxieties relieved, writing, “The truth, it turns out, is usually better than the nightmare.”
Mindscape: What Happens in Crisis?
Survivors go through three distinct phases, Ripley suggests. These are denial, deliberation and the decisive moment. Denial stems from having no prior experience on which to base a reaction, fear of social embarrassment from over-reaction, attempting to gather supplies to take into the unknown future, and other well-documented reactions. Following denial is fear and its immediate result, including production of survival hormones, some of which interfere with complex analysis, as well as common experiences including the slowing of time, exclusion of sensory input. Dissociation can kick in, as can what is called “task saturation,” concentration on one aspect of the problem to the fatal exclusion of other aspects of the emergency. This is an affirmation if nothing else of why we train to scan all around after shooting. Finally comes what Ripley, borrowing the words of photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, dubs the decisive moment when action is initiated.
Within the first quarter of the book, I ran across several charming pages that include an interview with the late Jim Cirillo, of NYPD Stake Out Squad fame. So strong was his influence that as I read Ripley’s report of speaking with him, I could hear his voice once again. Cirillo’s fascination with harnessing the subconscious mind to power through an emergency makes a valuable addition to The Unthinkable. Other resources familiar to self defense students are quoted–Massad Ayoob, Bruce Siddle, Alexis Artwohl and Loren Christensen.
Artwohl explains the role of training in creating the confidence to feel in control, an important aspect in countering fear’s affects. “It makes intuitive sense that the more you expose yourself to safe stress, the less sensitive you would be to its effects,” Ripley comments. “The idea that we can negotiate our fear response is a fairly radical one,” she opines later. This portion of the book is interesting reading, because it explains much of what and how we train, interpreted through the eyes of an outsider.
Most Network members have done more than most citizens to address their response to criminal attack. What about other risks from which we are much more likely to perish?
When we worry about the probability of one event or another causing our death, we ignore the top three causes of deaths in America — heart disease, cancer and stroke. Think about that next time you trade your exercise session in for a trip to the range! In trying to determine the probability of risk, humans shortcut their way to conclusions, in thinking processes that are not at all rational, Ripley explains, citing the work of Kahneman and Tversky, the psychologists and researchers who introduced us to the concept of “heuristics,” the irrational, emotional shortcuts we use in making decisions. The irrationality is fueled by dread, Ripley suggests, defining dread as the sum of uncontrollability, unfamiliarity, imaginability, suffering, scale of destruction and unfairness.
Loss of control – or maintaining the illusion of it – is a big element in decision-making. Control is also maintained by living life around dependable rituals, and decisions made usually seek the perceived ability to continue the normal. Also, bear in mind that experience is one of our strongest emotional informants – if one of the decision’s options is similar to a highly unpleasant prior experience, even if it is the safest option, it may well be discarded.
Conversely, dreading an emergency can become a chronic debilitation. Ripley writes a few interesting pages outlining the effect of various world-views on how people manage trauma both during and after an emergency.
“Resilience is a precious skill. People who have it tend to also have three underlying advantages: a belief that they can influence life events; a tendency to find meaningful purpose in life’s turmoil; and a conviction that they can learn from both positive and negative experiences,” she writes. “Dangers seem more manageable to these people, and they perform better as a result.”
She goes on to note, “confidence… comes from realistic rehearsal” and is an enormous asset in a crisis. She goes on to call confidence a “vaccine against life’s vicissitudes…The most important point is that everyone… can manufacture self-esteem through training and experience,” she concludes.
The Need for Speed
In an emergency we must contend with the speed at which events turn deadly. Interviewing fire fighters, Ripley quotes, “If you have to stop and think it through, then you will not have time to survive.” In a chapter dealing with disaster victims who found themselves paralyzed into inactivity, she cites the experience of an older couple that survived the KLM-Tenerife airplane catastrophe. The old gentleman, who at a young age survived a theater fire, habitually checked for exits, a practice he repeated before boarding the ill-fated airplane. Before the Tenerife airplane began burning, he grabbed his wife, and made for one of those exits. On airplanes, Ripley reminds readers, the time for evacuation is measured in seconds. A female acquaintance sitting with the couple on the airlane died in the fire, likely having never left her seat.
In the following chapter, a survivor of another airliner crash illustrates how quickly a plan must be implemented, underscoring the value of training to speed and guide that process. These stories like most others in the book are compelling, inspiring, and drive the reader to learn more as an antidote in case they ever face similar danger. One crash survivor believed that his military training kicked in to propel him into action. “You don’t sit there wondering what to do. You do it,” he told Ripley.
Additional “must read” information comes from the chapter on crowd dynamics, Ripley’s definition of panic, common behavior in emergencies, and related topics, all generously illustrated by interviews with survivors of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and a number of airplane crashes. Ripey’s focus is always on the individual, and how individual performance in a crisis can be improved. “These days, we tend to think of disasters as acts of God and government. Regular people only feature into the equation as victims, which is a shame. Because regular people are the most important people at a disaster scene, every time,” she writes.
A Book Filled with Lessons
Though The Unthinkable has a chapter entitled Heroism, Ripley doesn’t tell the real story of heroism until in the book’s last chapter she relates the actions of Morgan Stanley security chief Rick Rescorla on the day of 9/11. Though Rescorla perished in a last-ditch effort to extract a few last survivors of the terrorist attack, 2,687 lived because of his determination to inspire them to do so.
I expected a review and summation in Ripley’s closing chapter. Instead, along with Rescorla’s story, the final pages include the admonition to “rewire your brain.” Hands-on training, visualization techniques to improve performance, repetitive practice, and prior study of likely hazards are all recommended. Change your behavior, Ripley advises. Use the stairs instead of elevators the first time you come down from a hotel room or use the stairs once a week at your office. Get to know your “disaster personality,” she continues. Study disaster survival. “Knowledge also helps to self-correct,” she notes, explaining that one who studies errors victims made in earlier disasters may recognize and abort unproductive dithering in a similar crisis.
In closing, don’t miss Appendix I, Ripley’s response to reader requests for preparedness lists from readers of her book. It isn’t the traditional advice about food and water; The Unthinkable deals with attitudes and action items anyone can do.
“A superior man, when resting in safety, forgets not that peril is ever present. When in a state of security, he forgets not that ruin is only a breath away. When all is orderly, he forgets not that chaos ever hovers over him. Thus, his state and clans are preserved.” —Confucius
The man had a point that is particularly applicable to Americans living in our times. Few have experienced circumstances so dire that gnawing hunger is an ever-present fact of daily life and source of the next meal truly uncertain. My late parents, like those of many other Network members, were young adults during the Great Depression of the 1930s through the 1940s. While their values, attitudes and concerns are familiar influences on my daily decision-making, I remain keenly aware that I have little real experience of genuine want and fear about the loss of ability to provide for self and family.
Conveying the risks of a society turned upside down, of lengthy disruptions in food supplies, transportation, communication and other amenities we daily take for granted is a real challenge when the target audience – people like me – have little on which to base acceptance or understanding of what could happen. Fortunately, armed citizens have formed the habit of preparing for the unexpected in the area of their personal safety, and it is not a great leap to extend that attitude into other areas of preparation, as both Michael Bane and Bill Leibsch pointed out in the two main articles comprising this edition of the eJournal.
Both men pointed out the need to learn what natural risks are likely in your own home area, as well as being alert to what could go wrong in places to which you travel. Leibsch’s book and Bane’s television programming are good places to start in gaining an overview of how to prepare. In addition, the Internet, while not without its errors and its flaws, is a rich resource of research that while perhaps not complete in itself frequently has numerous links that serve as jumping off places leading to pertinent information that could ease your life if your area is hit by a natural disaster or Heaven forefend, our nation suffers an economic collapse.
At the end of this column are just a few Internet links through which to start your study. They are certainly not allinclusive, but are online articles I found interesting.
In wrapping up this edition of the journal, I’d like to note that the Instructor Question of the Month column will be back next month, having taken January off owing to a myriad of time consuming projects including promoting the Network with industry contacts at the SHOT Show, a heavy push on the affiliated gun shop project, getting tax documents to the accountant and more. By the way, though not related to the Network, buy a copy of the 2011 Gun Digest, if you’re interested in my take on women-friendly products seen at this year’s SHOT Show.
Earthquakes– http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/ or www.eqint.cr.usgs.eqprob/2002
Fires – http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/wildfire/
Floods, weather-related – http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/natural_hazards. shtm or www.floodsmart.gov
Building fires - http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=406&itemID=1 7735&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Escape%20planning/ Basic%20fire%20escape%20planning
Civil unrest - http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/wolfe118.html
Terrorism - http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d229a5f06620c6 052b1ecfbf43181aa0/?vgnextoid=fd71779a32ecb110VgnVCM10000089f0870 aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default
Nuclear - http://hps.org/hsc/documents/Planning_Guidance_for_Response_ to_a_Nuclear_Detonation-2nd_Edition_FINAL.pdf
General topics - http://www.theunthinkable.com