Guns for Disaster: What to Have When Katrina Comes to Your Town

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast.  The images from New Orleans were straight out of an apocalypse movie.  There was incredible flooding, roving gangs and government agents acting like thugs.  New Orleans in the wake of Katrina showed us at our worst.

One of the enduring lessons from the disaster is preparedness is your responsibility.  Do what you want if you are single, but if you have children or other family that depend on you, it is your responsibility to prepare now for when, not if, tough times come to your town.

Guns have a role in disaster planning.  With the inability of law enforcement to respond to your assistance, you must be prepared to protect you and your family.  Think about the images of looting from New Orleans…or the stories of murder and rape.  Even if the police were informed of these crimes, they had no way of responding.

Think back to the riots in Los Angeles after the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King.  If you were caught in the “riot zone,” the cops were not coming to your rescue.  Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck and nearly beaten to death merely because he was a white man in the wrong neighborhood.  With a pistol, maybe he his skull would not have been fractured in 91 places and he would have avoided permanent disfigurement and disability.

The images of the Asian shopkeepers standing on their roofs during the same rioting forever burned into my mind the idea that guns are the great equalizers.  One man or woman with a gun can protect his or her family from even a riot.

My point is a gun has an honored role in protecting you and your family when society crumbles around us.  So let’s take a look at what kind of guns make sense.


Darn near any reliable handgun will work.  I prefer a Glock 19, which is small enough to carry concealed, yet large enough for serious duty.  Unless you are in a restrictive state, the Glock 19 carries 15+1 9mm cartridges, with 17 and 33 round magazines available.

The Glock is very resistant to the elements, so rain or salt spray are less likely to cause any problems with rusting that might be encountered with other handguns.

If there are several of you in your family that are armed, it may benefit you to have similar pistols.  My wife and I both own Glock 19 pistols, which allows me to keep extra parts on hand that will work in either gun.  Also, it allows us to standardize on our ammunition stockpile.


A lot of people own an AR-15 or AK-47 variant for when the flying fecal matter hits the air mover.  Nothing wrong with either gun, and I have a few in my safe as well.  But, my preferred choice of gun is the lever gun.

A long gun cannot be concealed easily, so having something that blends in is preferable in many situations.  Right or wrong, a lot of people who wouldn’t blink at seeing a hunting rifle would flip out if they saw an AK.  Don’t draw attention to yourself in a crisis.

For a rifle, I like the Marlin 336 series.  Six shots of .30-30 can make quick work of looters, but also serve as a very capable game round.  Loaded with the Hornady LEVERevolution rounds will extend the range and performance of the venerable .30-30 cartridge.

A very good alternative is the Marlin 1894 in .44 Magnum.  The .44 Magnum is another cartridge that works very well for personal defense and hunting medium sized game.  If you do any reloading, there are a number of great load recipes out there for a very mild shooting 240 grain .44 that I expect to perform quite well, yet is extremely easy on the shooter.  The bonus on the .44 Magnum is you can standardize on a single caliber for both handgun and rifle.


A pump shotgun is probably the most versatile single weapon you can own.  With a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun you have a single tool that is well suited for taking birds, varmints, deer, bear and stopping bad people from doing bad things.

I like tactical guns as much as the next guy, but if money is tight, find a good condition, used Remington 870.  With a very small investment, you can get a second barrel to compliment the one it came with, giving you something short (18-20”) to protect the home, with something a little longer for hunting.

Birdshot, buckshot and slugs are all readily available and you can build up a small reserve stockpile of them a little at a time.

The shotgun is inexpensive, very effective and is legal in most areas of the world.

Cheap Guns

I’m not going to pick on any specific manufacturers, but we all know there are certain “cheap” brands out there.  Many of them can be found used for less than $100 in a pawnshop.  There are also a lot of single shot shotguns sitting in the bargain bin at the local gun store.  I strongly suggest having a couple of these on hand.  Let me explain…

One of the sad things we witnessed in New Orleans was the illegal confiscation of firearms by some members of law enforcement.  People in a dire situation found themselves disarmed by the very people that were supposed to be there to protect them.

Arguing with federal agents in a disaster situation is not likely to end well for any of us.  But, should anyone ever show up to my front door and ask for my guns, I have a cheap .22 pistol and single shot .410 shotgun that I will hand over.  I’ll appear cooperative, yet I will still retain the ability to defend my family.

The “…cold, dead hands…” mentality has its place, but getting arrested or killed by the government during a disaster puts you family in a very bad spot.  Give them what they want and everyone is happy.  Call it cheap insurance.

Final Thoughts

This article is geared toward guns, but guns should be only one small part of your preparedness planning.  If you don’t have food and water stored for a disaster, you should start there before heading down to the local gun store.

In a disaster, maybe one in a thousand people would have to use a gun for self-defense.  But, 100% of the people need to eat food and drink water.  Without something as simple as fresh water, you may die with that gun in your hand waiting for order to be restored.

My point is guns are a -part- of your prepping, not the solitary goal of your preparedness planning.