This recent article on survivalblog reminded me of something I have been meaning to write. There are always bunches of ideas floating around in my head and often it takes a post somewhere that touches on the topic to remind me that I had a strong opinion/ article idea.
I grew up on Westerns. When I was in my mid teens and we got non antenna TV Dad and I would often pass windy and rainy winter days by watching the Western Channel. With rare exceptions there were only a few different plots. One of those plots was taking over a town.
It basically goes like this a fairly large group of say 12-40 bad guys show up in a town and ride roughshod over the sheriff and push people around generally doing whatever they want, until the hero comes......The thing is that in real life a loner who has a questionable past but is pure of heart with a white hat who is lightning fast with a Colt .45 doesn't show up. Also more importantly towns wouldn't need one anyway. They can take care of themselves pretty well.
If you think of the bank robbers of that era they did not stick around in an isolated town with their speed of drawing and shooting a 6 gun securing their safety. They grabbed as much cash as they could quickly and rode out of town (hopefully for them) before getting shot to ribbons by farmers and store keepers with rifles and shotguns. Most of the reason people did this is that in the pre FDIC days, if a bank got robbed the money people kept in it was gone. Nowadays average people have little to no incentive to get involved in this sort of crime but if the money in the bank/ grain in the silo/ whatever was essential to the towns very survival people would not just stand by.
I remember in one book Louis Lamour gave his opinion on that plot. Basically he talked about how it would never work and was totally rediculous. There were just too many veterans of the Civil War and the Indian Wars and too many guns in the hands of the townspeople. Some things have not changed. It is often difficult to wrap ones head around how many guns are privately owned by every day, law abiding average Americans. Not everyone is a gun enthusiast with a Glock/Sig sticker on their car but Americans own a ridiculously awesome amount of guns.
This reminds me of my late Grandfather. He was a normal professional guy, pillar of the community, member of the Kiowas and all that stuff. In their nice normal home in a mid sized town he had a snubby .38, a full sized .357mag, a couple shotguns, a couple .22's and a bolt action rifle. Also one of my old Scout Masters comes to mind. Somehow when I was a bit older we got to talking about worst case scenarios. This Vietnam vet and normal retired guy casually mentioned that he had 4 AK-47's and 10 cases of ammo for them stashed away, as well as enough rimfire for a lifetime of small game. Few veterans I know are without a firearm and most have some sort of a defensive pistol as well as a defensive rifle (mostly AR's in this generation), not to mention whatever sporting arms they own.
Once you start looking at how many people are veterans, cops, hunters or just plain angry rednecks there are a lot. Thanks to the almost 10 year long GWOT we have a lot of young veterans and those Nam era guys are still around, heck a few Korea and WWII vets are still alive and kicking. There were simply way too many armed, trained and experienced individuals in even the smallest town of say 750 people a lethal proposition.
I can only speak with some measure of experience about the Pacific Northwest and the Deep South as I have lived there. In either of those places there is probably more firepower in 3 or 4 city blocks than any group of bikers/ raiders would want to deal with. A couple of smart local cops or city officials who are either veterans themselves, which is pretty common or have the basic sense to listen to those with applicable military experience could easily make the juice not worth the squeeze.
People talk about how the gloves would be off when it comes to dangerous, violent criminals (alone or in groups) doing whatever they want. That is true but those folks pretty much do what they want now, if they followed the rules they would not be dangerous violent criminals. The real game changer in the criminal to citizen relationship would be that the gloves would be off for the citizens. The idea of a group of bikers storming into town on screaming Harleys and taking over is the stuff of bad 60's era movies. Citizens and cops have a pretty good idea who the scumbags are, they are just currently bound by rule of law. I can see law and order societies, sheriffs posses, healthy reserve police forces and maybe just strait up vigilantes becoming the norm if things get bad. If you add up the police force, the local gun club, the Elks lodge, angry rednecks and all the veterans in a town of 750-2,000 there are ample numbers to make some thugs seek a weaker target.
If things were bad enough that nationwide law and order were gone and biker gangs could act without any fear of legal consequences they would likely meet a volley of rifle fire about a quarter mile from town. A biker on the move with a rifle or submachine gun (being a crook means you can ignore firearms laws which is a plus) would be no match for a deer hunter in a fighting position with a scoped flat shooting rifle, especially at a couple hundred yards.
Personally I see this sort of roving biker gang being a real issue for travelers, isolated farms, ranches and retreats. Without a serious plan to get outside reinforcements a group of 6-15 adults would have a very hard time dealing with a group of 1-2 dozen armed hard core criminals, especially if a couple of them had even minimal military training. I would be a lot more worried about relatively small groups doing what amounted to home invasions on steroids than some mobile mega gang a la Mad Max.
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