Legal Issues In An Emergency Part 1
(This is an enormous – and essential – topic, we’ll come back to it repeatedly in future articles.)
None of us really know what to expect after TEOTWAWKI. It is prudent to imagine a range of ‘worst case’ scenarios and to prepare for them to varying degrees.
The whole concept of TEOTWAWKI involves vague perceptions of lawlessness, of the break-down of government and law and order; with post-apocalyptic images of roving bands of marauders looting and pillaging, and armed shoot-outs between preppers in their fortified retreats and attackers trying to invade their dwellings and steal their food.
Much of this may indeed occur, and we are right to be prepared for such breakdowns in our social fabric. But even though government may be paralyzed and ineffective, the rule of law will remain in place unless formally repealed. Murder remains murder. Stealing remains stealing. And that is just the start – it is not only such ‘prime directives’ as these that will continue to apply. Alas, all the gazillion and one other rules and regulations that currently attempt to keep our orderly lives well maintained will also remain in force, even though they clearly would be dysfunctional and would interfere with all our desperate attempts at survival.
Think about it this way – at the present time, just because there is no policeman within ten miles or twenty minutes doesn’t mean all the applicable laws don’t apply to what you’re doing and where you are. Just because you’ve not been audited on your taxes before doesn’t mean you don’t still have to fully and accurately disclose all your income.
And just because you ‘got away with’ something at the actual moment you did it, that doesn’t mean it won’t come back to haunt you a day, week, month, year, or possibly decade or longer in the future.
This will be true during any type of crisis, too. For example, if you need to get a building permit before commencing construction of a barn, and if you need to get a building inspector to then sign off on the building before it can be occupied; if you don’t do these things during a crisis, you may find your barn will be condemned and pulled down once the authorities resume their reign over us.
If you set up a local radio station for your community, you would be liable for FCC fines and possibly even imprisonment when they get back to enforcing such things.
Shoot a deer or a duck out of season and without a permit, or with a type of firearm not permitted for such purposes, and you’ve still committed a crime which in some states could see you subsequently get locked up. There’s no exception to these laws for ‘except if starving or after the end of the world as we know it’.
And if you should discharge any firearms inside city limits, that could prove a problem, too. If the discharging of a firearm resulted in the death or injury of another person, sooner or later, you’ll find yourself staring at an investigation that threatens you with a potential murder charge.
Understand one more thing. Such investigations will likely be brought by the people who were and are resentful of your preparedness, and your ability to more comfortably survive through the tough times than they did. They won’t say so in as many words, but they’ll be out to get their own back at you. They’ll be starting to judge you from the standard that you should have shared everything you had with all the people who didn’t bother to prepare; they’ll consider you as little better than baby killers (indeed, it is a certainty that babies (and people of all other ages) will die during a major extended emergency, and they’ll be the first to say ‘So why didn’t you sacrifice all your food, all your fuel, all your shelter, and everything else you so selfishly hoarded, so these children of these poor illegal immigrants could survive’.
These people will truly believe that you should have risked your own future as a valid sacrifice towards the future of others who formerly sneered and laughed at you for your prepping. They’ll say ‘Who are you to play God and to decide who gets to live and who doesn’t?’ – by which they mean, you have usurped their rights to control your life and the lives of everyone else their petty bureaucratic powers allow them to interfere in.
When they have legal authority over you in some form again, they’ll seek to punish you – ostensibly for violating a city ordinance like parking too long on a city street or who knows what else, but in reality for simply having been better prepared and not suffering as much as they did.
How to Protect Against Such Outcomes and Problems
There are two very important things you should do : Select an area where the people start off with values as close to yours as possible; and actively make yourself part of the ‘solution’, not part of the ‘problem’.
You’d not want to go into full survivalist mode in downtown Los Angeles or Chicago or Washington DC or New York or Boston (or lots of other similar places too). You’ll be breaking all sorts of laws with every breath you take, and when order is restored, the politicians, the policemen, and the potential members of any juries will all look askance at you and be prejudged towards punishing you for your good sense and prudence.
You may have heard police officers and other government officials boast that they can always find some law that everyone they ever meet has broken or is currently breaking. ‘We can always find a reason to stop you and write you out a ticket’ sort of thing.
On the other hand, in smaller towns in rural midwestern and northwestern states, you’ll find many people still believe in individual initiative and personal responsibility, and would be less likely to think ill of you as a prepper. Indeed, they’re probably semi-preppers themselves (maybe even full-on preppers), and in a small rural community, more likely to be able to ride out any breakdowns in society than would be the case in the large cities.
This is a much better place to site yourself to start with. And when you do, don’t be a stranger to the community. Integrate yourself into it. Join some social groups, a local church, and so on. Participate in local events. Help in community fundraising. See about becoming a part-time city police or country sheriff’s deputy. Run for a seat on the local council.
Get yourself known and liked, and if you can influence local policy, so much the better.
You don’t want a group of uniformed strangers turning up on your doorstep to confiscate all your firearms or arrest you for some ridiculous charge; you want your friends to tell you they are running interference for you, or at the worst, to ask you to give them one or two guns just for show.
If things go really bad and you subsequently find yourself facing a judge and jury, you want them to be people as much like you as possible, and sympathetic to you personally and your values in general. While the jury members will probably be selected only from people who don’t personally know and like you, you’ll want them to be friends of friends, and/or to know and respect people you can subsequently call as character witnesses in any trial.
Be a Prudent Prepper, Not an Extreme Survivalist
This is another area where proper prudent prepping is massively at variance with the ugly image of ‘extremist survivalists’. Extremist survivalists try to create an alternate reality outside of the world they are unavoidably a part of. This is never going to be possible, and we see the spectacular results of such failures at places like Waco in Texas.
Prudent preppers try to fit into society and co-exist amicably with ‘normal people’. They realize there is no practical alternative. Domestic enemies of our government have no rights and no recourse and no escape. There’s no way you can run and no way you can hide from the awesome capabilities of our armed forces.
Occasional small bands of roaming marauders armed with pistols, rifles and shotguns – those you can probably fight off. But hundreds or thousands of National Guardsmen and US Armed Forces?
And your ‘bullet proof’ retreat, guaranteed to protect you against .308 rounds? Worst case scenario – the US Air Force has bunker buster bombs that will penetrate down through over 200 ft of earth or more than 100 ft of reinforced concrete. How’s your retreat looking now?
Never mind the Air Force’s bunker busting bombs. Just a single tank from the nearest National Guard post, and/or just regular troops with an M-72 LAW or an M-136/AT-4 can destroy just about any fortified retreat, and instead of firing semi-auto rounds, they’ll be using crew served heavier caliber weapons.
It truly is much better to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
They say that after the end of the world, the one species that will for sure remain, survive and flourish are cockroaches. Maybe so, maybe not.
Never mind the cockroaches. Government bureaucracy will be the absolute last thing to disappear – and, regrettably, the first thing to return.
Your prepping needs to be based on the ability to conform to as many of the present and potential future ’emergency’ laws as may be possible and to avoid escalated conflict with the authorities, whatever and whoever they may be, during and after an emergency.