Guest Post by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

You can’t get away from it. Prepping/survival blogs, websites, books, videos etc. all inevitable (and sometimes initially too) discuss the need for a defense strategy in the face of a SHTF event leading to living (at least temporarily) in a WROL environment. That form of defense is almost always described in terms as some kind of firearm. Other defenses occasionally mentioned include the crossbow, knives, and clubbing weapons. In fact, for some people ‘preparing’ is simply a collection of guns and ammo (the “gun preppers” as sometimes referred to). But that is a discussion by itself for another time.

By “non-lethal” weapons I am referring to items such as personal defense mace (including pepper spray), personal defense tear gas, stunners, and tasers. (“Screamers” and “Blinders”– portable often handheld devices that emit loud sounds or bright lights designed to stun and disorient an attacker – are often very limited in effectiveness for personal use unless in very close quarters. Any such device that is effective over larger areas is extremely expensive and anyway reserved only for law enforcement and military use.)

While it is clear that a firearm like any tool has its place in a plan, the topic of a non-lethal defense strategy is very rarely if ever covered. Other than hand-to-hand fighting techniques often centered around some form of the Martial Arts, other non-lethal defensive weapons do not get any mention yet I believe have a very important role in your overall defensive plan for an SHTF/WROL situation.

Too often you will read/hear someone say in an oh so cavalier tone say things like “If the SHTF and someone tries to rob my house I’ll put a 9mm between their eyes!”, or, “My neighbors better not try anything – I have a 12 gauge!”

How very macho.
But impractical in all but the most extreme situations.
Even in an SHTF/WROL scenario.

Stop and really think about what such a stance truly would mean to you, your family, your life!

First off – These are your neighbors! Or at least people in your local community. Regardless of how you feel about your neighbors, any disagreements you’ve had over the years, these are still people you live next to.

Do you really want to greet them at the front door with a gun in hand?
Do you really want to threaten them with a gun?
Do you really want to shoot at them if they don’t back off?

(Same thing applies to strangers as well.)

Such may inevitable be necessary in the end. But wouldn’t it be better to deter the aggression without even needing to show a firearm? Or at least make them think twice about trying?

SHTF and WROL does not necessarily mean living in “Mad Max” anarchy. And not forever. Almost certainly some form of order and rule of law will be restored soon and you will have to face the legal and social consequences of your actions. Whatever your community looks like after the event there will definitely be some form of formalized inquiry and justification needed.

Further, depending on what the SHTF event is, during the event or in the aftermath you cannot count on the same legal system as in normal times being there for your protection, nor being understanding of the scenario. In many localities simply drawing a gun has the same legal ramifications as actually pulling the trigger. Similarly, firing a “warning shot” whether into the ground or the air is still considered using lethal force regardless of where the gun was pointed. You can argue the merits of defense but once the SHTF event is over and some kind of normality returns for sure your neighbors won’t soon forget the guy down the street with the gun! (whom they will no doubt describe to law enforcement as “crazy” or “crazed” or some other unstable term.) It would be much easier to go to your neighbor, hand out stretched, and apologize for spraying them with mace than to apologize for sticking a gun in their face and threatening to blow their head off. Or worse, having actually taken a shot at them! The former stands some chance of being accepted, the latter highly unlikely to say the least.

If the SHTF event is really that bad there also are good security reasons for not letting your neighbors know that you are armed with a firearm. You probably want to keep a low profile as to all your resources. If it’s known you have a firearm that can make you a target for someone who thinks they can take it from you. Or, ponders the question “If he has a gun he probably also has food and other supplies I/we need!” Or just some idiot who thinks himself a Rambo and wants to challenge you on some kind of testosterone kick. Maybe to try to establish himself as some sort of bad-ass leader in the community.  Whereas a can of mace or a stunner isn’t all that unusual. It is a matter of perception which truly often is 9/10th’s reality.

Another very real consideration is the physical aftermath of using a lethal defense.

Spraying someone or a group of people with mace doesn’t leave lasting physical harm (presuming no allergic reactions or other medical issues). The effects will wear off in time even without treatment but the memory remains. And that’s what you want – someone to say “That person/house is too much trouble” and go for an easier target.

By contrast if you do employ a firearm and actually do end up shooting a person, or several people, then what? Just as law enforcement may be scarce in a SHTF/WROL event so would emergency medical services. What are you going to do with your neighbor bleeding to death at your front door? Or perhaps several people laying there in various states of injury, possible some already dead from their wounds. Meanwhile the whole neighbor watching in shock and awe. Not a good thing regardless of the scenario.

Then there is the issue of putting theory into actual practice.

Most people have never drawn a firearm in defense in their entire lives. The most ‘dangerous’ thing most gun owners have had to shoot at are paper targets, perhaps wood or metal plates or some bowling pins. But not a living thing much less a human. Even for active hunters, taking aim at their query is different than a human. No matter what kind of formal or self designed training you have done when the reality is in your face it can’t be easy. Even law enforcement officers have a difficult time of it. Few have ever needed to point their service gun at a suspect and even fewer have had to fire it in the line of duty.

So imagine the shock of an otherwise ordinary person in anything but ordinary times having to defend themselves and their family. And multiply that by potentially knowing well the person or persons you are taking aim at. Life just got a whole lot real very fast!

And there is the moral issue to consider.

When your neighbor is at your front door asking for your help, perhaps ‘just’ a little food or water, maybe with his/her family standing behind them, do you really want your response to be a gun in their  face?

If you have decided not to share your supplies, that’s your choice. I cannot tell you otherwise. Arguments can be made both ways (also a discussion for a later time).

But when an emphatic “No!” does not persuade your neighbor to leave, wouldn’t it be better to have an intermediate step of force before going to the gravest extreme in front of their (and probably yours too!) family?

Or what if it was simply a woman and her children at your front door begging for help? Even if you won’t help (your decision, no judgment) do you really want to point a firearm at them as your only means of making your point? And if she does try to push her way in are you really going to shoot her in front of her kids?

No matter how much you think you have stiffened your resolve to be firm on the issue of sharing supplies you are still a human being, an American, who has suddenly been thrust into an unbelievable reality that up until a moment ago was just fodder for table talk or forum messaging. You may ultimately need to reach the gravest extreme of lethal action but at least in this authors’ opinion there should be considered an intermediate step of non-lethal action as an option. Better to have more choices then fewer.

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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.