The Times runs some true confessions, bringing liberal gun nuts and New York area 'Preppers' out of the closet. Guns first:
Confessions of a Liberal Gun Owner
By JUSTIN CRONIN
I AM a New England liberal, born and bred. I have lived most of my life in the Northeast — Boston, New York and Philadelphia — and my politics are devoutly Democratic. In three decades, I have voted for a Republican exactly once, holding my nose, in a mayoral election in which the Democratic candidate seemed mentally unbalanced.
I am also a Texas resident and a gun owner. I have half a dozen pistols in my safe, all semiautomatics, the largest capable of holding 20 rounds. I go to the range at least once a week, have applied for a concealed carry license and am planning to take a tactical training course in the spring. I’m currently shopping for a shotgun, either a Remington 870 Express Tactical or a Mossberg 500 Flex with a pistol grip and adjustable stock.
His motivation seems to be defense of his family in the event of a societal mini-crisis such as a hurricane in the Houston area. He provides bits of reassuring bonding with his liberal readeship, which creates some discordant moments. For example:
But in the weeks since Newtown, I’ve watched my Facebook feed, which is dominated by my coastal friends, fill up with anti-gun dispatches that seemed divorced from reality. I agree it would be nice if the world had exactly zero guns in it. But I don’t see that happening, and calling gun owners “a bunch of inbred rednecks” doesn’t do much to advance rational discussion.
In a self-defense context a world without guns would favor the hale and hearty over the older, the infirm, and women generally. Interestingly, the author reverses his field almost instantly, while describing his teen-age daughter's interest in guns:
This time, she asked to take a pistol lesson. She’s an NPR listener like me, but she’s also grown up in Texas, and the fact that one in five American women is a victim of sexual assault is not lost on her.
Grist for the liberal mill.
"Out of the Closet" weekend at the Times began with a long feature on New York area "Preppers":
New York hardly seems like a natural location for what has become known as the prepper movement, but in fact the city’s prepping community is not only large and remarkably diverse, its leaders say, it’s also growing rapidly.
To the unprepared, the very word “prepper” is likely to summon images of armed zealots hunkered down in bunkers awaiting the End of Days, but the reality, at least here in New York, is less dramatic. Local Preppers are doctors, doormen, charter school executives, subway conductors, advertising writers and happily married couples from the Bronx. They are no doubt people that you know — your acquaintances and neighbors. People, I’ll admit, like myself.
It isn’t easy being a Prepper these days. The discipline has taken blows from TV programs like “Doomsday Preppers,” which — despite its record ratings and recent episodes, like “Escape From New York” — is more or less a weekly invitation to laugh at lunatics tunneling into mountainsides to escape a Russian nuclear attack. Last month, a chill went through the movement when it turned out that the mother of Adam Lanza, the shooter in the Newtown, Conn., killings, was a Prepper. Even though prepping is increasingly visible in the culture — through meet-up groups, books, films and weekend retreats at which canning skills are learned — it continues to be thought of as a marginal and unseemly business, something on par with believing that the Bilderberg Group controls world events or that the government is hiding aliens at Area 51.
How times change. It was only a year ago that the Times was assuring its readers that Preppers are a bunch of racist rednecks eager to open fire on rioting black people. Now, a bit of preparedness prior to a "Sandy" type event doesn't seem so crazy. And as to Preppers being racist?
EARLY IN MY TRAVELS, I was told the man to see for a deeper understanding of prepping in New York was Aton Edwards, founder of the International Preparedness Network and author of the emergency survival guide “Preparedness Now!” Mr. Edwards, 51, is often called the city’s foremost expert in personal disaster preparation — he has appeared on the “Today” show, has taught his “Ready Up!” seminars to hundreds of participants with partners like the Red Cross and has set up, as part of the National Urban Self-Reliance and Preparedness Program, “incident command centers” across New York, like the one he recently created for the hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa in the Bronx.
It was not by chance, Mr. Edwards said, that prepping first took root in New York in the black community: he himself is black, and in the 1990s he became a frequent guest on “The Open Line,” a call-in radio show on the “urban adult” station WBLS. Around the same time, he started giving classes in disaster preparation at the National Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights group. “Obviously,” Mr. Edwards said, “because of our history, black folks know that bad things happen.”
These days, he added, the prepping movement is “the strangest mishmash of people you could ever find — black, white, men, women, everyone. It looks like America.”
The author even challenges the faith of secular liberals in their deity, 911:
I came across a news report about Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had recently named to lead a commission investigating how ready the state was for another Hurricane Sandy-like emergency. I arranged an interview, figuring that he, if anyone, could answer my question [i.e., how much preparation is appropriate?].
“It’s impossible to forget that we live in a world vulnerable to hazards, man-made and natural,” he said. “So it’s legitimate to ask: What is the impact on individuals?”
His answer was squarely in line with Prepper doctrine. Dr. Redlener said it was rational — indeed, it was recommended — to have a three-day supply of food and water, a working flashlight, a first-aid kit, a radio that runs without batteries and a plan in place to rejoin one’s relatives after a disaster. He talked about situational awareness, a major Prepper mantra. “A prepared citizen is someone who understands how to take care of himself,” he said, “who has amassed the necessary items, who has a plan.”
When I asked about some of those I had met along the way — say, the geared-up 12-year-old, Leonardo Ruiz Jr., who, dropping his suspicions, later gave his name to a photographer — he gave a forbearing smile. “There’s a spectrum,” Dr. Redlener said. “On one end is mindless complacency. On the other is paranoia. The challenge is to find that place in the middle where you understand that bad things can happen, but it doesn’t consume your life.”
Then he surprised me. I had never heard even a quasi-government official admit that the authorities would not respond promptly in an emergency, but Dr. Redlener said that “gaps” existed during “mega-disasters,” hours, even days, when there might not be an official response.
“The well-being of many, many people in harm’s way will be dependent in those gaps on social networks, on community and on individual preparedness,” he said.
He added, aphoristically, “We are all first responders.”
He's from the government and he here to tell you to help yourself.