Beyond Collapse

Surviving and Rebuilding Civilization from Scratch

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So, You Want An “Assault” Rifle…

With all of the buzz and media extravaganzas surrounding “assault weapons” (never mind that no one really gets the definition right), I figure it’s time to look at these firearms and how they pertain to a post-collapse situation. For our purposes however, let’s concentrate on semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines here…

machine-gun

 

 

 

 

 

You actually have a wide variety of choices out there, but that’s not what we’re going to discuss. What we’re going to look at involves a few things first and foremost, so let’s start with the important bits

Before-Collapse Considerations

  • cost
  • potential legal issues
  • accessories, parts, etc.

Beforehand, one of these rifles are going to set you back by a lot of ducats (and getting more expensive by the day from the looks of things). Potential legal issues? Well, we knew that already, didn’t we? To be fair, any firearm falls under this threat at some stage of governmental degradation, though the semi-auto ones will likely be picked on first. Just know that if you decide to get one of these bad boys, you’ll want to set up and put a good hiding spot to use before anyone else does. You can go crazy with options and accessories – scope, laser sights, alterations aplenty, stock options (and we don’t mean “Dow Jones” here) are among the bewildering variety of things you can do to make one of these as unique as you are. Thing is, the costs rack up, and it is all too easy to get caught up in it. Oh, and did I mention that the ammunition is extremely expensive too?

After-Collapse Considerations

  • ease/costs of maintenance
  • availability of ammunition

Okay, forget about all the picking and choosing for a moment… let’s talk about what happens after the balloon goes up, shall we? Because most of the issues beforehand can be justified, honestly rationalized, or worked around in some fashion. Barring doing anything stupid (like, oh, having an accessory such as a night-scope that requires batteries), odds are good that you can have one in your hands while it all goes down.

Let’s talk about ease of maintenance. You got enough spare parts for that thing? They tend to go through parts more rapidly, especially given the more complex mechanisms. There is also the fact that you’ll probably go through more ammunition when you use one in a combat situation (why? Because for anyone who is not a trained SEAL? If you can, you will, especially if you’re scared. It’ll take a lot of time and training to suppress the urge).

Let’s talk about ammunition, because these things can really eat a lot of it. Finding the military ammunition can either be incredibly easy, or impossibly hard. If governmental troops are in a nearby battle and there were a ton of casualties, you may come into a gold mine of ammunition. On the other hand, and in any other situation, well, good luck with that. Mind you, this goes for any other rifle that doesn’t have a common, cheap cartridge. You see, unlike .30-06, .30-30, or other common hunting round, you either have a ton of ammo and reloading supplies stocked-up, or you’re liable to wind up with a goofy-looking club. As mentioned in the book, at least 1,000 rounds is a must, and if you’re toting a semi-auto, expect to keep at least 3x as much in stock at the very minimum – preferably 5x as much. Why? Because you’ll have a much harder time getting hold of that particular caliber (be it by scavenging, barter, or whatever). The good news is, the stuff keeps better than most, because the military is very good at specifications that lend towards reliability and long-term storage.

Mind you, this ammo thing will still be a long-term problem when it comes to any firearm that isn’t a muzzleloader (assuming it’s a match/flintlock). So, the only question is, how long until the bullets run out? For a semi-auto (or worse, full-auto) rifle with a non-hunting caliber, that date will probably come sooner than most, unless you have free access to a good military stockpile. If it’s any comfort, the exotic hunting rifle owners will likely run out before you do.

So, What To Do?

Back to the present day. You’re sitting here, reading this, and thinking: should I get an AR-15, an SKS, or a Mini-14, or…? Well, first and foremost, ask yourself: How useful will one be to you?

If you’re just buying it to be scary-looking, or because it holds a buttload of cartridges which you can spray at inbound enemies? Don’t. There are few situations where a semi-auto with a high-capacity magazine is actually useful – most of them are in urban situations where you expect to shoot a lot of people wanting to kill you, and are at ranges of 10-50 yards. less than 10 yards and a semi-auto pistol is more useful. Anything beyond 50 yards, and the shorter barrel isn’t going to give you the same accuracy that a decent long-rifle will.

All that said, there are advantages to the likes of an AR-15. The large-capacity magazine means less time between reloading – a very good thing in combat. The shorter carbine-length barrel makes it easier to swing around in tighter quarters. The design makes it almost perfectly easy for an experienced owner to strip down, clean, and re-assemble with very little in the way of tools.

Alternatives?

So you don’t want just a hunting rifle, but at the same time you don’t want something that may get banned before Christmas? No problem…

First, allow me to introduce you to the M-1 Garand. It is reliable, solid, quite accurate without a scope, and it uses common (.30-06) ammunition. If you know how to look, you can cheaply stock up enough spare parts and ammunition for it to last a decade or more. Overall, not a bad deal.

Second, an uncommon suggestion: The humble, evil, but paradoxically loveable Mosin-Nagant. You can get them extremely cheap – enough to buy multiple rifles of the same model for use as spare parts. Reliable? If you select the right ones at purchase (hint: check the inner rifling), they are nearly indestructable. The ammo, though non-standard, is cheap enough to buy in stupendous quantities, and the stuff is amazingly reliable (that is, if you find a good supplier). There are exactly two downsides: First, they kick like a constipated elephant… a butt-stock cushion of any sort is a must (they come with a steel plate on the butt, if that tells you anything). Second, they are loud beyond belief, so don’t expect to find anything resembling a silencer.

Still Gonna Do it then? Okay…

In those situations where a semi-auto carbine with a big magazine would come in handy, go for it. Just don’t get stupid with the accessories; for instance, anything needing a battery should not even be considered. Keep to the basics, and learn to be proficient in it, and without all the crap hanging off of it.

Buy it with cash, preferably through a private sale. This leaves no records for the authorities to follow to your house if the topic of confiscation ever does become law.

Keep it in perfectly clean and working order. Know how to take it apart and put it back together with the bare minimum of tools. Be doubly certain to insure the magazines are in perfect working order, and keep spares around – mis-guided cartridges are among the biggest causes of jams.

Be certain you have a damned good hiding place for it and its ammunition. Odds are good that as government gets more fascist (or if you prefer, anti-freedom), it may go from banned sales to banned possession. My suggestion would be to find a place where lots of metal is located, dig a hole next to or under that, then put your rifle and ammo in waterproof containers before burying them. Another alternative would be to have more than one rifle, hiding one where you can get to it quickly, then burying the other one. Be sure to do the same with half of the ammunition. By the way, this also goes for your magazines, accessories, receipts, and anything associated with your rifle.

Don’t write anything down, but maybe take a picture of your spouse, dog, or suchlike standing next to the concealed burial site(s), so you remember where to go look when you need to dig ‘em up. For instance, if you bury it next to a metal fencepost, have your sweetie pose for a portrait standing next to that fencepost, taking care to not photograph the fresh dirt at her feet. Print that picture, and post it in the same room you keep your gun cabinet/safe. Suddenly, you have a map of your hiding spot sitting in plain sight – neat, huh?

Sadly, this next bit is necessary for way too many of you out there: DON’T BRAG On THE DAMNED THING! Don’t take pictures of it, and especially don’t take pictures of you standing near or next to it. The point is that this rifle is a tool for survival, not a prop to make you look like a badass. Those who mistake it for a prop, even in jest, will quickly lose it.

Finally, keep a very sharp eye out on the political situation, so you know when to do something about these rifles, and all of their gear.

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Thursday, January 10th, 2013 Before Collapse, Generic Musings, Long-Term, Short-Term Comments Off

Religion, Post-Collapse

Religion, Post-Collapse

This past weekend, as I sat in church, my mind began to wander a bit. Normally, this is considered a bad thing, even sinful. On the other hand, there are times during the service when I think it to be a good thing, so long as it revolves or involves one’s relationship with the Divine.

Well, during all of this, I was thinking ahead to the Religious Education classes that I volunteer for, and something came up: What happens post-collapse? When happens if there is no priest, no bishop to ordain new priests, no pope, etc. Thinking even further, other religions have similar obstacles. I know that I went out of my way to list religious tomes in the book, but sometimes, there are things required which will simply not be available to the ordinary religious person.

The following are initial thoughts, and will likely require a ton of work and research (maybe it’s own 2nd Edition chapter?) But bear with me, and if there is something I missed (and I probably did) – please let me know! I’ve broken it down by popularity in North America:

Christian, Protestant:

This is perhaps the easiest of all to prepare for, since in most generic versions, almost anyone who is baptized can be a preacher (you just have to be persuasive and knowledgeable enough, I suspect). The more formal Protestant organizations would likely still require some sort of formal certification and/or ordination, especially if we’re talking about Anglican/Episcopal variants, and those would have to be tended to as needed.

Overall though, I think that as long as there is a Bible handy, and some sort of training available, it would be doable. For the loosest affiliations, I suspect that a solid understanding of the Bible and the ability to counsel, convince, and a strong sense of duty and service would be sufficient.

Preparation would simply require that an extra Bible is handy in your supplies, with perhaps some hymnals if you want to keep singing them post-collapse.

The only real long-term dangers would involve misinterpretations and personal agendas that would, over time, distort the original Word of God and the messages of Christ.This would require a watchful community, and an eye towards keeping as many bits of literature, dogma, and tradition as possible.

Christian, Catholic:

(Disclosure – I’m one of these).

Catholicism would be, in my opinion, the hardest to keep going on a formal scale. There are things which are required (gilded chalice and plate, a missal, unleavened bread and sulfide-free wine, beeswax candles, incense when possible, etc). There is room for improvisation, and some of the items can be scrounged from existing stock (candles, chalice/plate, etc).

However, the big problem lies in the fact that the host/wine can only be consecrated by an ordained priest. A priest is required to have training, and is required to be ordained. He is also required to be celibate and to dedicate himself to the community’s needs. A deacon (married man who can assist in most of the Mass) can fill in most of these roles, but the consecration and other functions (e.g. confessions) must be performed by an ordained priest. The good news is, any bishop can ordain a priest. Archbishops, Cardinals and even the Pope himself are all considered to be bishops in this regard, so no worries there (trivia bit: The Pope is considered as the Bishop of Rome). The bad news is, most bishops live in big cities – the one location which would come apart in a hurry in any type of complete societal collapse.

Preparation-wise, you will want to talk with your local bishop. If you can catch him when he’s personally doing confessions, that would be an awesome (and perfectly discreet!) time to bring the subject up with him. The idea is to convince him to bug-out, and have a family in your parish put him up. Failing that (the most likely outcome here), your community (if predominately Catholic) would have to go get him and bring him to you, or at least find out where he may have bugged-out to. If you have fellow Catholic preppers that you know in your area, now would be a great time to bring the subject up with them. Get as many as you can to add extra preps (food, medical supplies, etc) to provide for the priest as things go south. Note that if you believe collapse to come by way of fascism or any anti-religious sentiment, you may also need to find means by which to hide the good father from authorities (this is nothing new, incidentally – King Henry VIII made this a necessity for all British Catholics, and for quite awhile…)

Post-collapse? Provide for the priest you do have, and do your best to locate the nearest bishop. This way you can send any seminary candidates to him as needed as your priest gets old, dies, etc.  I think that once stability of sorts is returned to the area, things may revert to what once occurred out here in the Western US and other formerly pioneer areas – a priest will travel from community to community, performing Mass at homes, barns, or anywhere convenient. Your job will be to convince one to make their way to your community. This may mean attending Mass perhaps once a month at best, or once every 2-3 months if you’re almost as lucky. The rest of the time, someone can be ordained (again, by a bishop) as a local Deacon, holding communion services with leftover and/or pre-consecrated wine and hosts that have been suitably stored or sent for the purpose.

Long-term, the dangers lie in running out of bishops. Any three or more bishops can, in a pinch, ordain another bishop, but the trick will be in finding enough bishops in order to pull it off. Bishops ordinarily require that the ordination be done with the blessing of the Pope (to insure unity), but dispensation can be universally granted before or during collapse, and can likely be assumed after that. Historical precedent would be missionaries and times of persecution where a direct blessing/permission could not be gained in a timely manner (again, see also early Anglican England). Globally? It will be a very, very long time before a local diocese can reconnect with its neighboring ones, let alone connecting with the Vatican -this will lead to a lot of confusion (and not a little strife) before things are re-established. The good news is that most things which are Catholic have been around for nearly two millennia, so don’t expect any radical changes. However, there is a danger of local bishops (or even priests) using collapse as a signal or cue to start changing things subtly, mostly to suit his particular ideologies and any desired changes from the norm (obligatory snark: especially if the gent’s formal title ends in “S.J.”), so you would have to be on guard against that. A periodic diocesan council would prevent much of that from happening, as long as there are a sufficient number of priests and other clergy about to keep things honest.

Christian, Mormon:

In spite of living in and among the LDS communities of Utah for well over a decade, I still know very little here, so bear with me:

I presume that aside from the requisite Bible and Book of Mormon, there really isn’t too much in the way of equipment at the local (ward, stake) levels. I do know the temples on the other hand require the adherents to a special bit of undergarment before entering, that there are a few requirements to enter one (as well as a “Temple Recommend”), and that there are likely special temple ceremonies (marriage, baptisms of the dead, etc) and such that need to be passed along.

From research, I do notice that, as far as I can tell, any ordained LDS priest can ordain another (through the laying on of hands), but am unclear as to how exactly it is that one elevates to the titles of High Priest, Bishop, Seventy, Apostle, and Prophet… At the very least, there would be some form of local continuity if you have a going community of fellow LDS survivors.

Having a strong tradition of preparedness, I suspect that your local ward would have some sort of contingency/continuity plan in place that would come in very handy during collapse, but it would only work if you had a large enough community of LDS adherents. Outside of Utah, Idaho, and maybe Oregon? It may be tough going, especially if your local ward is so large that it would require a day or more of travel by foot just to reach the building.

Long-term, there is a strong chance of splinter groups forming and of dogmatic drift. Existing examples of this includes the FLDS church, which splintered over the question of polygamy (FLDS is for it, rest of LDS church is formally against it).

Jewish:

(this one is all from guesswork, so please send corrections as needed):

Post-diaspora Judaism has dispensed with the need for burnt offerings, Levite priests, and suchlike. Nowadays, all that would really be required are the proper books, tools and space (and preps!) sufficient to maintain kosher food laws, and a place to meet on a weekly basis.

As the Jews have traditionally been forced by society and history to be more mobile and improvisational than most, I suspect that most of the preparatory portions have already been ingrained by now. I would only suggest a deeper study of things, and a close relationship with your local rabbi, and maybe know of the closest place where one could find a means of making copies of the scriptures properly (if I remember right, there is a procedure for that which insures perfect copies are made, and that, for instance, any pen and perhaps ink which writes His title is kept separate from the ones used to write all the other words, etc).

Ordination of new rabbis is something I am completely unsure about, but I think that two or more other rabbis can do it (For the Jewish among us, please send corrections and clarifications – I’d actually like to know).

Muslim (Sunni and Shi’a):

This is actually easier than any other out there – a copy of the Koran, and perhaps the Tawrat and Injin as well (strongly suggested here, by the way). It also wouldn’t hurt to have a few philosophical treatises and books handy from prominent and historical Muslims. There is no formal hierarchy, as an imam is usually whoever had the religious respect and education to sufficiently run the local mosque.

All that said, the post-collapse Muslim will have one problem in North America that most other religious folks do not: the potential for persecution on an unprecedented scale. While said persecution is in direct violation of Christian morals, and there aren’t enough Jews or atheists around to do it on any real scale, nonetheless there will likely be a lot of problems in this arena. Of course, this does depend on the nature and type of collapse, but in a world where no one really has enough, the first to get picked on will be those who are different-but-minority, and Islam is about as different as it gets in this part of the world. 9/11 and global terrorism activities certainly don’t make this any easier. The best means of survival against this is to find and integrate with a community that is friendly to the religion, or form a large and strong enough community to effectively defend yourselves against incursions.

If you can survive and form a community that includes enough fellow Muslims, and can do so peacefully enough, the rest is easy to carry along. Your biggest long-term goals will be teaching Arabic/Farsi, and in not changing what’s in the books as they get copied over time. You and the Jewish folk will have one thing in common: the need to for food laws to be adhered to. Although circumstance may prevent you from always eating according to Halal needs, there is some leeway, and you can organize your preps and foraging/growing activities to them over the long haul.

Everybody Else:

This all depends on how you believe, how formalized the religion is (or lack thereof), and what would be required to maintain it over the long haul. I suspect more than a few atheists would hope that somehow people drop religion during their post-collapse travails (umm, not gonna happen). Buddhists and other very small religious bodies will get on well enough, though this depends on tradition and style of ordination. Not sure about the whole Wicca/Pagan thing, since (just in my opinion) most of the adherents aren’t really all that serious about it over time – at least not enough to dedicate an entire lifetime to it. There’s also the long-term danger of a return to medieval attitudes towards anything which can be construed as witchcraft, which most sane people can file under the ‘do not want‘ list for their children, grandchildren, etc. Finally, there is a lack of recognizable tradition (as in, a timeframe of 100 years or more) and any sort of means to keep it all unified enough to be recognizable over long periods of time.

On the other side of the coin? Odds are good that if the population is too small and the requirements too formal with no contingencies, the religion will likely die out in North America. The specific/discreet religions I listed above have populations large enough that they stand a good chance of long-term survival. The rest I wouldn’t place any long-term bets on.

Final Thoughts:

No matter how you pray (or don’t), one thing I see as a common thread is the need to prepare for not only short-term continuity, but the long-term as well. Priests and Bishops will grow old and die, even if every last one of them survive collapse (and since the Catholic ones are celibate, no kids to carry things on, either). Copies of sacred writings will, unless strictly controlled and observed, start gaining typos and errors which will magnify over time, causing meanings to become unclear and/or changed (example? Lets say some incompetent soul drops the word “not” from “Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife” – leads to all kinds of confusions, not to mention a mandatory coveting, no?)  Even if you’re an atheist, the philosophical books and papers which you’ve scrupulously kept as  evidence of reason over religion may get all mis-copied, so…

The biggest take-away though is this: tradition is a huge part of what makes us human. It makes us appreciate our forefathers. It also helps give us a sense of continuity over time. This will come in very handy when building a new world, especially as you’re enduring the remains of the old one as it slowly snuffs itself out of existence.

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