Zombies are rather popular in American culture right now, especially among gun owners. The biggest example of the undead’s popularity is the TV show The Walking Dead, which saw huge ratings in Season 3. Not only did it have good ratings for cable—it’s broadcast on AMC—most nights it beat every other show on TV, including shows on the big three networks (ABC, NBC and CBS).
One reason zombies and The Walking Dead are so popular is the heavy emphasis on firearms in the genre. When you’re dealing with a creature that wants to eat you and can only be “killed” by destroying its brain, nothing works better at keeping their teeth away from your neck than guns.
That said, there is also a large contingent of gun owners whose opinion of the zombie craze can best be summed up by the conviction, “Zombies are stupid.” OK, I get that—if you can’t get past the whole “dead walking the earth” thing, the entertainment value of anything zombie tends to slide toward zero. That said, The Walking Dead is hugely popular for a lot of reasons, and there are a lot of lessons—symbolic and otherwise—in it for anyone interested in firearms for self defense and emergency preparedness.
The Mother of All Natural Disasters
Can you think of a more extreme example of a natural disaster than the Zombie Apocalypse? Emergency responders overwhelmed or out of the picture entirely, power and utilities down, deadly creatures roaming everywhere. Even the federal government has gotten into the emergency preparedness game with Ready.gov, recommending everyone have a kit loaded with everything you and your family would need to survive for 72 hours.
The best perspective on why you should prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse is something that’s been posted for years on the FAQ page of the forum at ZombieHunters.org:
Q: Do you really think Zombies are real or is this some sort of zombie movie fan site?
A: Zombie Squad realizes that it is quite possible for someone to live their entire lives without encountering the undead nuisance. However, we hold fast to the belief that if you are prepared for a scenario where the walking corpses of your family and neighbors are trying to eat you alive, you will be prepared for almost anything.
Zombie Squad is very serious about promoting public awareness of the need for survival preparation and contingency planning.
The Long and Short of It
Everyone tends to think of a natural disaster as a short-term event, hence the “72-hour” bags. But what if the problem goes on and on? The heroes in The Walking Dead have been dealing with corpses for three seasons—about a year in their world—and it appears their world has forever changed. Finding food and water is just as much of a priority for them as avoiding the undead. It took months, if not years, for life to return to normal in Louisiana after to Hurricane Katrina, and people in New England had no power for weeks after Sandy.
You Dance with Who You Brung
After a disaster is not the time to be thinking about buying a gun for protection or stocking up on supplies. The survivors of The Walking Dead use whatever weapons they can scrounge—knives, screwdrivers, handguns, crowbars, shotguns, baseball bats, rifles, a samurai sword and even a crossbow.
Also, the survivors quickly found out sound attracts walkers, so in the third season we saw them using guns with homemade suppressors. I particularly like the one made from the body of a Maglite. In the most recent season, they twice stumbled upon supplies of AR-15s—and ammo—and they are very very happy about it. If you don’t have what you think you might need to defend yourself or your family simply from a burglar—much less the looting which frequently follows natural disasters in this country—you’re doing it wrong.
Hurricanes and Tornadoes Don’t Riot or Loot
Whether the undead ever walk the earth or not, there will be more natural and man-made disasters. Most of the problems besetting the people living in those areas aren’t the storms themselves, but the people using the situation as an opportunity to misbehave. In The Walking Dead, the biggest problem the main group has to deal with by the third season isn’t the zombies, but rather other survivors who want their stuff. The mere presence of a gun won’t deter a zombie, but it sure works on regular people thinking about causing trouble.
Even without any disaster, the world is full of thieves—protect what you’ve got, and don’t start yapping to your neighbors how you’re a one-man army, and you’ve got a generator and enough guns, ammo, food and water to last for years on your own. If things get bad they’ll be standing on your porch knocking. If things get really bad, they won’t knock.
You Can Never Have Too Much Ammo
Does this really need explaining? In the zombie genre you’ll see guns, guns and more guns to deal with the shambling hordes of zombies. Most of the time little thought is given to ammunition by the director or producer, but we know different. Guns have to be fed. Most of us will never burn through an entire magazine shooting at people, living or dead. However, for those rare exceptions, there is nothing like having a lot of ammo available, preferably already loaded into magazines which hold a large number of rounds.
In October, G&A published a story in which an older gentleman with health issues was beset by home invaders—three guys with guns and masks entered his house, plus there was a driver in the getaway car. The homeowner fired multiple shots at the men, seriously wounding one and driving the others away. While they weren’t zombies, the lesson is clear.
Teamwork Saves Lives
Whether it’s the Zombie Apocalypse or a tornado that’s torn up your town, things will need to get done. It is far better to be part of a team working together than trying to go things on your own. In The Walking Dead, somebody always needs to be on watch to make sure the biters are sneaking up behind you. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, you’ll discover your neighbors have all sorts of useful skills, such as carpentry, plumbing or auto repair. Some of them can also stand guard on your house while you sleep.
People working together can accomplish a lot more. During the L.A. riots, store owners worked together to defend their properties. Thanks to teamwork—and their “assault rifles”—they saved their stores.
- The AKMS doesn't appear until Season 3, presumably scavenged by the group between the second and third seasons. The particular model used in The Walking Dead features rails along the top, plus a tactical handguard—both of which would come in handy during the Zombie Apocalypse.