You, Guns, And The End of the World

The dodgier the places you travel, the more you’ll see guns of all sorts. Well, not even dodgy: in these “post-nine-one-one” days it’s quite easy to see a fair level of firepower at public gatherings and international airports all over the place.

In first world countries, it’s never advisable to lay your hands on a firearm for any reasons other than sporting, and if it’s not your country of origin, you should obtain local guidance first. This should be obvious. In dodgier climates, the lines blur. There are generally no formal rules, and you need to follow your gut instincts. I’m going to talk about that grey area, the lawless lands, where you will have access to firearms but may not know what sort of obligations you may have around them.

First of all, if you’re around guns and you don’t know how to use them, never ever EVER touch them. You will be putting yourself in a massive hole, possibly offending local hosts, and endangering the lives of all those around you. Even if you do know how to properly use guns, I would advise never touching firearms unless given express permission from its owner or knowledgeable local people.

Again, this may seem obvious to you. Good. Lawless chunks of the world do not give you licence to pick up, carry, and fire, a gun whenever you want. Chances are you are still subject to various laws that you don’t know about, and even most locals don’t know about. In fact you may even be subject to laws from your own country dictating what you can and cannot do abroad.

So now the obvious stuff is out of the way, you want to know what really counts: shit is going down, you have a local gun beside you, chaos is in the streets, you want to be armed and prepared. What do you do?

Rule number one: don’t touch it. Especially if you don’t know anything about guns. If you’ve never fired a gun before, you do not want to learn in this sort of environment. You will miss, they won’t, and you’ll be dead.

Even if you do know your stuff about guns, you’ll not want to touch it. You need to get permission from a local first. Preferably someone with authority – if a local cop is there, or if the hotel owner has just pulled the shotgun out from behind the counter, calmly mention where you saw the gun. Follow a local’s lead – take their advice. Remember, as a foreigner you are worth far more alive in most parts of the world than dead. When defending yourself with a weapon, you’ll no longer be an innocent bystander but rather an active combatant.

If you know for a fact that there’s killing going on and your life is genuinely in danger, by all means make sure you are fully aware of the implications: international law could classify you as a mercenary that you are now in a foreign country, without a military uniform, armed and ready to kill. And if that statement makes you feel at all uneasy, again, DO NOT TOUCH THAT GUN.

If, however, you’re okay with that, then you should know that your self protection to an appropriate exit point is your goal. If you have grand ambitions of carving out a place in the city to exist as your personal fiefdom, I can’t help you, and chances are you won’t need any advice anyone could give if you actually succeed. Otherwise getting out should be your concern.

The longer you stay in these situations with a weapon in your hands, the shorter your life becomes. Shoot only when you feel it will drive away potential killers. I’d recommend NOT shooting to kill. Shoot to scare, suppress, to get people running away from you. Pay a taxi driver way too much money to get you to a safe exit point, drop your gun, and get out. It is extremely rare for armed foreigners to be seen in these situations so you have the element of surprise and confusion on your side. Use it.

This use of a firearm will not require a great deal of know-how with it, aside from basic aiming and operation. Note that in bad parts of the world many weapons stashed away are often in very bad condition; use basic firearms safety to prove the gun operational(ALWAYS check the bore, open the action several times, pull the trigger on the UNLOADED gun and make sure the firing pin is working. Field Strip if it’s possible and reasonably quick – check for signs of rust, and never bet your life on a crappy gun. Often these guns were meant solely for posturing and not meant to be fired, but if you’re putting one of these in your hands you will want to make sure it CAN be fired effectively if necessary).

It is highly advisable to depart the country as soon as possible after any unsanctioned interaction with local firearms. As I said, you’ve probably broken several laws you’re not aware of. Even if there are violent clashes in the streets, it’s probably still illegal for you to even possess a gun even when lawlessness is the rule of the day.

It should be your absolute last resort to pick up a gun with the intention of using it, and in that case God help you – you already have one foot in the grave, and your main goal at that point should be an exit as quickly as possible.

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