Up until now I’ve tried to keep the topic of firearms out of this blog. I’ve never really felt it was applicable to having a 72 Hour Bag. I don’t think there will be an apocalypse suddenly calling for the need to arm yourself like in the movie The Road or The Road Warrior… It just ain’t going to happen. And during an earthquake or in the aftermath of a disaster those first 72 hours typically have shown one of unity, so I remain completely impartial on how any individual feels about packing a gun in their 72 Hour Bag.
The Orlando shooting has prompted the gun control issue to the fore front of the national debate. Because of my experiences during the weeks after Hurricane Katrina it became abundantly clear that there were people who owned guns and gained power and those who didn’t. I never owned a gun till I moved back to Los Angeles and looked critically at my surroundings, we live in a disaster prone area – and here too there will be a power vacuum when disaster strikes. After I made the choice to purchase a gun, I told myself that if I were to own a gun, I wanted to become very proficient with it, like obsessively good. I sought out training, and probably because of the line of work I am in I had access to people who used weapons in the most hostile situations and several of the people I worked with were some of the most elite warriors of their time allowing me to gain insight into how a highly proficient shooter operates. I practiced and I practiced on my own and taking classes – classes that were typically not available to civilians. I learned quickly that going to the range with 1,000 rounds of ammunition for one single day of shooting was just barely scratching the surface to become proficient. When I hear of someone caught with 1,000 rounds of ammo I generally laugh for two reasons. One, I have friends who typically drive around with close to 10,000 rounds and two, the same people who scream in horror at the though of a person having 1,000 rounds are the same who feel you should have to pass a marksmanship test to own a fire arm. What do you think you just pick a weapon up and can actually hit the side of a barn. I can tell you, it ain’t that easy.
For those of you who have never purchased a gun or shot a gun I can tell you this: this myth that you can walk into a Walmart and walk out with a gun is ridiculous – at least here in California. The are background checks, there is finger printing, there is a test. Every time I purchase ammunition I am finger printed. Period. If you peer into the looking glass you will see just how difficult it is to acquire a weapon legally. With every law the legislators create they make it more difficult for legal owners to purchase and it does nothing to prevent criminals from owning a gun. I have been critical of the NRA not stepping up and helping solve the problem of criminals getting guns, as well as figuring how to stop a psychopath from gaining possession of any weapon. The need to become more proactive in solving those two issues.
Today there are four pieces of legislation going up, I have no issue with any of them. You can read about them here. They propose the following:
1. Tighten the background check system. (Republican lead)- Great, go for it.
2.Expand Background checks. (Democrat lead) – Great, sounds like the same thing but what ever.
3. Prevent terrorist from buying guns. (Republican version) – WTF? Are you serious, sounds like a no brainer.
4. Prevent Suspected Terrorists from buying guns. (Democratic version) – Same as above. Just do it.
Here’s the problem with most gun legislation that bans a specific type of weapon. Most legislators couldn’t tell the difference from a AR15 to a magazine or a clip. A friend of mine who was law enforcement in Los Angeles said that when trying to prevent gang shootings in South Central during the 80’s the legislators reacted by banning the Uzi. Those weapons had unarguably caused some high profile shootings but my friend argued that if they really wanted to prevent a large number of homicides they would have banned the Saturday Night Special. He claimed the Saturday Night Special was the gun of choice during that era and more homicides had been committed by that weapon than the Uzi. I know what you are going to say, but the Uzi is an automatic weapon and can spray bullets killing a greater number of victims. Here’s the rub. There is already a law on the books banning that weapon, the National Firearms Act of 1934. Automatic weapons are illegal and have been since 1934, the sale or purchase of any weapon must be regulated by a person with a Federal Firearms License. So getting back to banning specific weapons, a friend recently said there is no reason for a person to own a weapon such as the AR15 (which wasn’t the weapon used in Orlando), it’s only purpose is for killing people. Well I say that is it’s only purpose if that’s what you do with it. But mine is locked up in my safe and I like shooting at paper targets with mine, so I guess there’s one other use. Or perhaps if you go hunting with it, that could be another use. And if you don’t think it’s a good weapon to hunt with, why is it called a Varmint Gun? Just watch an episode of Life Below Zero and you’ll see there is another use for that weapon. Why use it for hunting? Well it’s pretty darn accurate and really reliable.
Listen, evil people do evil things, and they will always find a way to do harm to their fellow man. I’m not saying there aren’t crimes committed with a gun, but there are a lot of crimes committed with a knife. Point being mere hours after the Orlando shooting 29 people were killed by attackers in a subway in China with knives. We had a saying when training with knives – if a person has a gun, take it away. If a person has a knife, run. The knife is far deadlier than the gun. A gun takes skill to use, a knife doesn’t. In the United Kingdom they banned possession of all handguns. And now? You guessed it, they have one of the highest incidences of knife attacks in the world (probably second to the Philippines) and as a result? They are discussing the possibility of outlawing knives over a certain length. This highlights one of the issues with people who know nothing about what they are legislating. The large knife looks really scary, but in fact a small blade is far deadlier. With a large blade you gain distance, good in a knife against knife fight, but a small blade gives you stealth and it makes it all the more difficult to take away from the attacker.
So I say instead of legislating against an object figure out a way to change behaviors, Canada has more weapons per capita than the US, but has a far lower homicide rate… Why? Answer that question and we might get some where.
Enough of my rambling, here are some infographics I fin applicable to the conversation, especially the one on Kennesaw GA.
I have a LifeStraw I keep in my 72 Hour Bag and I’ve written about it in the past, but there’s one issue with the LifeStraw I don’t think you can ignore. Below are some pictures I found which show off the LifeStraws ability to allow its owner to drink from a literal cesspool and not only live but actually be completely unaffected by the little nasties living in there. As you can see from the pictures below the LifeStraw is an amazing water filter which has a great design, allowing it to filter 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water and weighs only 2 oz.
The commonality in all the photos above are that the people have water. The major issue I have with the LifeStraw is that you must have access to water and drink it at the source to make it worth it’s light weight feature. The fact that it is a straw makes it difficult to hook up to a hydration bladder and make use of it’s water filtering ability. As seen in the photo below, if you live in an area with access to water then it’s probably not much of a concern.
However, if you live in an arid area where water is scarce and you’re going to need to collect your water and take it with you then you must take further steps and not rely solely on the LifeStraw. You can’t just throw this item in your 72 Hour Bag and go blindly forward thinking you’ll sort it out when the time arises. Figure out how you’re going to collect water and take it with you. Something as simple as two gallon zip lock baggies may be enough for you to double bag a gallon of water and go. I’m not saying this is the answer I would choose, but for some simplicity is the key… I assure you there are going to be complications with the zip lock baggies, but at least it’s a back up plan. A good quality dry bag can be used backwards and used to carry water as well, old Gatorade bottles are some of my favorites because they are pretty strong, last a long time, carry a good quantity of water and have a wide mouth so filling is easier than a regular plastic water bottle.
With all these limitations of the LifeStraw I still carry it in my 72 Hour Bag but I keep it as my backup. My primary water filtration system is the Sawyer Mini. Remember: “One is none, and two is one.” Out of the box it’s pretty much exactly like the LifeStraw with it’s capabilities. Yeah, yeah, it ain’t exactly the same and the LifeStraw surpasses it’s filtration by a squeak, but at that level of filtration I don’t think it is really going to make all that much difference. Here’s the Mini:
Here is the comparison chart between the two filters:
Out of the box it’s designed to attach to a water pouch which you squeeze to get the water to flow through and into your mouth, but with some very simple steps you can cut the hose on your hydration bladder, add a couple little zip ties and you have an in line water filter stowed and ready to go in the 72 Hour Bag.
I take this filter system from my 72 Hour Bag and use it for all my backpacking trips. The ability to take my hydration bladder to a stream, fill it up and not have to take any time to process the water is invaluable and one less bit of work I have to do or stress about when trying to enjoy the outdoors. The fact that the Sawyer Mini will filter out 100,000 gallons of water makes it a much better bang for the buck, is 1/3 the length and it weighs exactly the same amount. I’ve attached mine to the Platypus Big Zip and find is the best bladder on the market, it’s zip lock opening make it a cinch to refill and clean and it’s got an antibacterial coating to stop nasty things from building up over time. Here’s what the Big Zip looks like:
In the end, the LifeStraw goes for about $20. The Sawyer Mini goes for about $25. For the extra $5 I think the Mini is a much better way to go especially seeing how you can filter out 378 times the amount of water!
In addition to my signature 72 Hour Bag I keep in my car I always carry an EDC bag. This is the bag I carry to work everyday and it has an extra layer of clothes, pens, sunglasses, etc – all the junk you generally use on a day to day basis. Because in the film industry we don’t have a desk or a usual place of work our location and environment changes daily. One day we may be going to work in the morning for a 7am call time and the next day we may be heading out for a 4pm call time and working all night. Because of these variables we never know what the conditions of the days work will bring so it’s a good idea to have a catch all bag capable of sustaining you with little planning or forethought.
In the EDC I have experimented with various containers to hold the essentials to bridge the gap between my ever changing work place and my 72 Hour Bag which can be up to several miles away locked in my car at crew parking. I started out on the Altoids tin bandwagon and crammed some good items in there, I liked the size but felt I wanted a little more versatility. I then went to a Condor Pocket Pouch I got from LA Police Gear but it was always getting hung up on the outside of my bag and wouldn’t ever really fit in an internal pocket of my EDC bag. Also when I would open it things would spill out. Because it had so many pockets I would forget what I had where and inevitably have to dump the entire pouch out to find what I needed anyway.
After a little research I discovered this handy little unit, it’s available at Amazon and goes for about $15. Because it’s metal it will work as a device to boil water in, and it slides in and out of an internal pocket in my EDC easily. Let me walk you through what I keep in here.
You can see things go inside very neat and organized. I took off the top few bandaids so you could see under them.
In this picture I have a ReadyMan Survival Card my buddy gave me, it has a lot of options for saws, hooks and arrowheads all on a flat card. Not sure if it works in the field but its a nice addition, weighs almost nothing and lies flat at the bottom of the tin so I figured what the heck. I also carry Steri Strips instead of sutures because sutures have way too much risk involved in an emergency situation and a Navy SEAL Corpsman buddy of mine says he would use superglue or steri strips any day of the week over taking the time to suture in the field. Note to self, add dental floss and super glue to this kit (I used my last single use tube of super glue during a minor emergency at work and never replaced it). Also, you can see at the top of the picture the P38 can opener I always have one on me.
Below is a picture with some jute for tinder and a tampon which has many uses and you can read that article I wrote here.
Also in the pack I carry an unlubricated condom, which looks like it needs to be switched out and you can read about the uses of a condom in a survival situation here. I carry two large safety pins, a swiss army knife, a 9 volt LED light which is freaking awesome. I got them off Ebay – the one in the link is about $5 but I think I paid about $1 each so if you hunt a little you can find them cheaper.
As you can see I carry two Altoid mini tins to hold smaller items and keep them organized. One caries a whistle my buddy whittled down to its smallest size possible while still being functional – just don’t swallow it. There is also a button compass and some matches, if you look closely I have two brass brads. These are the perfect size to defeat a Master Lock that we commonly use in the film industry. Occasionally we need to get into some locked places where we actually have permission to go but the owner of the lock can’t be contacted to get the combination so instead of destroying the lock we’ll just defeat it. On the top left of the pic I carry the mini leather man squirt tool – it’s actually the driver I use to suture but its small and fits nicely in this kit. Just next to it is my pocket lock pick set and in the Altoids tin at the bottom contains some cotton balls with petroleum jelly in a tiny zip lock baggy and also a supply of my daily meds in case I can’t get home.
So there you have it, that’s the tin I carry on a day to day basis in my EDC.