To Camp or Not to Camp

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

In response to the recent article “A Spy’s Eye View”, one reader wondered how concerned he — as an average American — should be about covert surveillance.

This edition of the weekly drop covers my response to William’s worry, as well as some advice on where to bug out when the SHTF, what electronics to protect in the event of an EMP, the best guns for home defense and one more item you could add to your escape bag.

Let’s get started.

[Spy lens technology] would definitely ensure transparency and honesty in business dealings. Does an average American like me have anything to be concerned about?

— William B.

At this point, William, I don’t think the average American has to worry about being subject to covert surveillance. However, as technology rapidly improves, I’m sure there will come a day when this type of surveillance is more common.

The bottom line is anytime you are out in public, you should assume there is a security camera — or perhaps someone with a camera phone — watching you.

What ideas for a bug-out place do you have for someone who has no family or other land to run to? Should I go deep into forest and camp or what?

— Lori F.

This is a great question, Lori, and the answer really depends on why you are bugging out in the first place.

Are you fleeing because of a natural disaster? If so, I would recommend camping somewhere in the woods or in a nearby national park. Camping is a good solution for a short-term bug-out scenario. But there are two things you need to take into consideration:

  1. Is it a busy camping season? Not only would this jack up costs at local campgrounds, but being surrounded by people in a crisis isn’t ideal.
  2. Will the disaster that forced you to leave your home reach your campsite? Be sure to choose a place to camp outside the disaster radius. You don’t want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

If you’re bugging out for the long term because of an economic collapse, a large-scale attack or some other long-term danger, then you probably shouldn’t stay at a campground. In that case, try to find a group of friends or other people to bug out with. It would be best to find a group of people now so you can start planning and come up with a safe location where you could all bug out together.

I am a relatively new member and enjoy your email information… I am trying to secure in a Faraday box items that would require replacement if an EMP occurs. Can you give suggestions or resources for this type of information?

— Ron I.

Anything you read that claims which specific electronic items will be damaged in the event of an EMP is really just basing its suggestions on what items are most likely to be harmed. With that being said, most small portable electronics will be damaged. And those items with wires or cables are even more likely to be damaged because the cords act like antennas.

Since there is no way to predict with certainty which items would survive, I would prepare for most electronics to fail. Put your most critical items — including your cellphone, an emergency radio and any other important electronic items you want to protect — in a Faraday box. In the event of an EMP attack, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I’ve been warned by knowledgeable people here in Ohio that if you pull a concealed knife out to defend yourself, that’s illegal. I wonder how many other states have the same law…

— M.H.D.

Most states have laws regarding knives that are similar to their gun laws. Just like you can’t pull out a gun and point it at someone, you can’t pull a knife on someone, either. But if you are in fear for your life and pull out a knife to defend yourself, I don’t think there would be any legal issue there so long as you have just cause.

With that being said, I’m not a lawyer (I’m just married to one). Deadly force laws differ from state to state — and regardless of whether you use deadly force with a knife or a gun, you would have to be justified in doing so.

Also, keep in mind that each state has different laws on the types of knives you can legally conceal and carry. Again, since I’m not a lawyer, I recommend contacting an attorney in your state who could explain the specifics of the laws where you live.

I cannot find where you recommended the best guns to keep in one’s house. Would you please resend this information or tell me where I can find it in your previous emails?

— Joshua H.

Sure thing, Joshua. The most important thing is choosing a gun that you have trained with and feel comfortable using.

Personally, I like using handguns for home defense because they allow you to easily and quickly clear your entire house. Some of the guns I use are a Smith & Wesson M&P and a Glock 19.

If you are interested in a shotgun, I recommend the Remington 870. If you do decide to use a shotgun for home defense, I suggest adding a flashlight to the gun. Another option to consider is an AR-15, but again, make sure you have a flashlight mounted on the gun.

Really any of these options would work for home defense. What matters is that it works for you. If you are new to shooting, go to your local gun range and rent a few guns to try them out and see which one you feel most comfortable using.

You make some interesting presentations and points. However, one formidable, up-close and personal self-defense tool seems to have been overlooked… the blackthorn cane… Mine’s been with me on commercial flights, in courtrooms and, before I got married, with me in more than a few bars. No police officer’s baton can match it. Yes, I can affect a limp as necessary…

— Conrad G.

You bring up a great tool that can blend in easily in many places, Conrad. I don’t carry a cane myself, but I can understand why some people would feel more comfortable with one.

More importantly, if you do have a limp or need a cane for stability, I would absolutely consider using your cane for the added benefit of self-defense. As long as you buy one that is solid and well-built — whether it’s blackthorn or not — it will be an effective self-defense tool.

I am a regular subscriber and appreciate all you have done. Your knowledge and products are excellent. I might have mentioned this before, but another item to be kept in a bug-out bag is a paperback version of your book Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life

— Jim P.

Thank you for your suggestion, Jim. Obviously, I’m biased, but I agree that the information in my book could really make a difference in many survival situations. If you have all the survival gear in the world but don’t know how to use it, then it won’t do much good.

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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