Soon after the details of Adam Lanza’s heinous and purely evil criminal actions at Sandy Hook Elementary School were revealed, Americans largely decided that the political conversations that would inevitably result should be held off until the small bodies of the vile murderer’s victims had at least been removed from the school.
Conservative commentators and gun-rights advocates mostly did just that. In fact, in spite of the “what do you have to say for yourselves know” sneering from some on the left, the National Rifle Association refused to comment on the tragedy until Tuesday.
When the NRA did release a statement after five days of shouting from those opposed to the organization, here’s what it said:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
While the NRA has avoiding making political statements about the tragedy, the organization has no choice but to prepare to battle an onslaught of anti-gun legislation slated to be introduced over the next several months.
This is because while the NRA turned off its media microphone, President Barack Obama, several members of Congress (some of whom are exceptionally pro-gun) and members of the media doubled down on blaming everyone and everything for the bloodshed but the sick child-murderer.
American Prepper Network founder Tom Martin explained the phenomenon beautifully in a blog post following the tragedy:
Who is to blame? As with any tragic story of this sort, first come the reports of the attack, followed by prayers for the victims, followed by background information on the attacker, and then comes the blame game. Who was the attacker and why did he do this? What weapon did he use? Guns? What kinds of guns? Where did he get those guns? Who taught him to shoot? Blame will often be thrust upon the parents, and then maybe bullies at school who may have contributed to who this attacker became. Maybe blame will be thrust upon his friends, or the community for not treating him right as he grew up. What about violent video games, movies and TV shows? Society and people around the attacker will often catch the blame. But how often is blame fully put on the murderous evil attackers themselves?
Martin and his organization likely would have had no reason to publicly comment on the tragedy had it not been for the media-fueled blame game. Mixed into the misinformation spread after the murders, Nancy Lanza, killed by her son and unable to retort, was painted as being affiliated with a “loosely organized network of gun enthusiasts, back-to-the-land types and the generically cautious.” That is how the mainstream media describe American preppers.
In a piece published by Salon writer Katie McDonough, the writer glanced over the organization’s website long enough to copy and paste a few of the group’s “Five Principles of Preparedness.”
The principle categories include the following headings:
1) Practice thrift and frugality
2) Seek to be independent
3) Become industrious
4) Strive toward self-reliance
5) Aspire to have a year’s supply of every needful thing
The five principles advocate nothing but tips on how to achieve the utmost sense of personal and social responsibility. You can read them in their entirety here.
But the Salon writer deducted the following from the APN’s five principles:
Statements aside, preppers undoubtedly attract a fringe element. The APN site talks often and explicitly about “The End of the World As We Know It,” which it refer to as TEOTWAWKI. And judging from the abundance of videos and blogs of self-identified preppers arming themselves while touting conspiracies about government, financial collapse and the apocalypse, it’s clear this isn’t strictly a peaceful movement of people hoarding canned goods.
Preppers don’t just stockpile nonperishables — they collect weapons. Like Nancy Lanza, who owned five guns — three of which were used in the Sandy Hook massacre — preppers believe having weapons is just as important as having enough water.
Because McDonough was either on too tight a deadline or too lazy to speak to an actual member of the APN, which caused her to make fallacious assumptions about preparedness buffs, Personal Liberty sought an interview with a prepper and APN volunteer to clear a few things up.
APN volunteer, self-described prepper and Ham radio operator Robert Hawkins answered the phone when we called a number related to APN. Though Hawkins did not speak directly on behalf of APN, he offered his perspective as an individual prepper and a volunteer in the group.
“In my opinion,” Hawking said. “The media-sensationalized feeding frenzy that is going on right now is targeting preppers because people are desperately grasping for an answer to why this young man would do something like this. Preppers have been thrown to the forefront of the discussion because of some media mention that his mother was involved in prepping.”
Hawking pointed out that it was unfortunate that the media, not understanding much about what it actually means to be a prepper, had attempted to portray Lanza’s mother as possibly unhinged when she was just as much of a victim of his killing spree as the children at Sandy Hook Elementary.
A prepper is explained by many to be a more mainstream equivalent to the traditional off-the-grid survivalist. The APN does not advocate any one aspect of prepping or survival. For instance, it doesn’t advocate gun ownership or food storage outright, but rather encourages Americans to learn the skills necessary to handle any situation. Once the skills are acquired, most people can then come to informed decisions about what they should have on hand at all times.
That is a big sticking point for members like Hawking, who believes the way preppers are being described currently in mainstream media and popular culture is completely off base.
“What we’re all about is self-reliance. It is about making an individual effort to provide for yourself what you need to get along,” he said. “It isn’t about preparing against invasion, government takeovers or zombies.”
Hawking explained that in his view, prepping had more to do with little, everyday things.
“The idea nowadays that everyone has to rely on some kind of outside support is totally false,” he said. “You can maintain quite comfortably many modern necessities with very little more than your own knowledge and preparation. That’s what it is about to me, the ‘how-to’ aspect of prepping and how it can help people in their everyday lives.”
Hawking doesn’t deny that a fringe element could be drawn to being a prepper. But he says that more often than not, people who simply want to safeguard themselves against the poor economy and rising prices are the preppers he meets.
As for McDonough’s assertion that preppers believe having weapons is just as important as having enough water, according to Hawking, it is nonsense.
“I know preppers who don’t own guns, who don’t like guns and who don’t feel they have a need to own a gun,” he said, re-emphasizing that prepping is about more about everyday self-reliance and less about stockpiling rations and munitions.
Hawking believes that the negative media representations of preppers will eventually stop as more Americans learn the benefits of becoming more self-reliant.
“Most people are rational enough to understand that the media’s portrayal of preppers is distorted,” he said, noting that most often preppers are the people who are out helping in the community when something bad happens, not social recluses living in bunkers with piles of guns.
As an aside, it was reported yesterday that Adam Lanza was a vegan; media hasty generalizations about the possibility of being vegan making one violent were noticeably absent.