Homeland Security


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

March 26th, 2003




Much has been said in recent months regarding Homeland Security. We now have an official Department of Homeland Security as a part of the United States government. There is nothing wrong with this, and it is probably years overdue.  Besides the task of guarding our borders and coordinating the various law enforcement branches of the government, the Department of Homeland Security advises the citizenry to basically be careful. As far as guarding our borders, they donít.  People cross our borders illegally, everyday, by the hundreds.  As far as coordinating our law enforcement agencies; I donít know, but it doesnít look like it is happening yet.

Now, when it comes to advising the citizens of the United States on how best to protect themselves against terrorist threat; the DHS fails miserably.  We are advised to buy plastic and duct tape to seal our windows and doors, stock a little food and water, and report any suspicious activity. They make no mention at all about how to best protect ourselves and our families against an actual terrorist. They advise us on how to protect against airborne chemicals and food shortages, but nothing is mentioned about protection from the cause of the problem. If we suspect a terrorist, we are to make a report to the proper authorities, and eventually they might investigate. That has proven to not be good enough.  As individuals, the police cannot protect us. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the police have no responsibility to protect an individual citizen.

For a good example of law enforcementís collective inability to protect the citizenry, we need look no further than last yearís attacks upon the people of the Washington, D.C. area. With a coalition of thousands of federal, state, and local police trying desperately to catch a shooter, fourteen people were shot by two thugs in a beat up Chevy, over a period of several days.  After each shooting, the police swarmed the area instantly, interviewed witnesses, filled out reports, and did all that they could to find the killer, but were unable to arrive on the scene fast enough to save a life.

This is not a condemnation of the police. It is a simple fact that we each cannot have our very own twenty-four-hour-a-day policeman. Even if we could, we are just paying him to do a job that we should do ourselves.  Every day, in many parts of the world, people kill each other. Not all of these killers would be labeled as a terrorist, per se, by law enforcement. However, if four punks are bursting through your back door in the middle of the night, armed and intent upon the death of you and your family, to you they are, by definition, terrorists.  In many parts of the country, the police are at least several minutes away. Whether this is due to their workload or geography, a lot can happen in ten minutes.  Try this simple exercise:  Pick up your telephone, pretend to dial 911, and then just sit and watch the clock for ten minutes. After about thirty seconds, you will start to realize that ten minutes can be an eternity.  Also bear in mind that ten minutes is a pretty good response time. It could take much longer, even if you live in a major city.  Everyday, there are armed robberies, carjackings, rapes, murders, and other violent crimes perpetrated by ruthless thugs who couldnít care less about you or your family. They are bent upon their own selfish wants without regard for you at all.  If they are successful, a cop will be there eventually to write a report, but it is up to you to deal with the situation now. These situations occur everyday in this country, and are more common than our elected officials would have us to believe.

Now let us consider the real, genuine, hardcore terrorist; the kind that are organized and determined to take out as many American lives as possible. If you are sitting in an office building and some fanatic flies a high-jacked airplane into the building, there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. This scenario is, however, a very rare occurrence. Most often, terrorists take hostages and kill them one at a time. In a situation like this, your best bet is to be armed, and armed well. Each person must decide for himself what to do in a hostage situation, but dying with your hands tied behind your back because you gave up ainít the best solution. If you are in a public building, the best .45 auto available in the glove box of your car is of no use to you. You must be armed.

Another, and more likely, scenario that the Department of Homeland Security fails to mention, is the situation in which by chance terrorists do succeed in their endeavor to create mayhem and civil unrest in the United States. There are billions of people in this world, of which a small percentage are Americans. Of the remaining population, some like Americans, some tolerate Americans, and some hate Americans with an unhealthy vengeance.  With many legal and illegal immigrants flowing across our borders each day, a major terrorist event is not only possible, but likely. If someone tells you how and when this will occur, they are lying. No one predicted the events of September 11, 2001. It was a total surprise. There are many vulnerable facilities in this country which, if attacked, could cause a major catastrophe and disruption of civil services.  In desperate times, people who are normally civil can become a crazy mob. In such an event, in the face of rioting and looting, the police will be of little help. Take the example of the Los Angeles riots of a few years ago, for example. The police deserted and left the store owners in the district to fend for themselves. Those who were armed did quite well. Those who were not armed, wished that they were.

I get questions daily from Gunblast readers who want to protect themselves, and want advice on a good concealment handgun to acquire. There are many great choices for a personal defense handgun, and everyone should own one. For more serious situations, however, such as defending the homestead or getting your butt out of a riot situation, a pocket pistol is not the ideal choice.

First of all, if you are heading into a bad situation, the best advice is to avoid it altogether. However, if the fight comes to you, you better have a good rifle. As I write this piece, the U.S. and its true allies have been involved in a war for five days in Iraq.  If you are involved in a fight with a determined mob, of any religion or nationality, you are in a small war. You need to be armed as such.

When I am asked my opinion for the best rifle for which to defend against a formidable force, I usually suggest an AR-15.  While I realize that there are many good weapons available; from your old 30-30 Winchester to an M1 Garand, the AR-15 is the state of the art rifle with which to defend you and your family against a determined group of thugs, if you live in the free world. For someone in another part of the world, I might suggest an AK-47 or AKM, but for a U.S. citizen, I recommend an AR-15, and for good reason.

The AR system is easy to use, battle proven, and readily available. Good high-capacity magazines and spare parts are available in quantity at fair prices. A good AR-15 is as reliable as any firearm can be. If needed, parts and ammo are as close as the nearest armory. The gun is relatively light, and can be extremely accurate. My Bushmaster Varminter is the most accurate center fire rifle that I own. The AR-15 is commercially available with barrels of sixteen, twenty, and twenty-four inch lengths, along with just about any custom length that is legal. The weak point in the AR system is the lightweight magazines. They are easily damaged, but spares are cheap and plentiful. Buy several. For sighting equipment, the sky is the limit. For long range work, I like a good scope sight, but for up close social work, the standard AR-15 A2 style sights are hard to beat. On a flattop AR, back-up iron sights or a back-up scope should be a part of the system.

Ammunition for an AR-15 is relatively cheap and available in quantity. Military surplus ammo can be found for less than  14 cents per round. I really like the Israeli stuff. It is reliable and loaded to NATO specifications. Stockpile plenty of ammunition. I know shooters who have a good AR-15 and several magazines, but almost no ammunition. This is stupid. If you ever need your AR in a fight, the local Wal-Mart is not going to be able to supply your needs.  Buy your ammunition in quantity, and practice often, rotating your ammo supply to keep it fresh. In good GI ammo cans, the stuff will last a long time, but practice is fun and the ammo is cheap. 

I like to keep an AR that is always loaded and ready to go, along with extra loaded magazines, ammo, and other accessories nearby, in the event that I must grab it and go in a momentís notice. I call it my "Woods Rig".  It is always ready. If you must abandon your home, you most likely wonít have time to gather your weapon, magazines, and ammo. Having these things ready ahead of time and within easy reach can make the difference when the decision is made to move out. Asking a panicked wife to help you find your extra magazines while your front wall is collapsing is not conducive to a harmonious outcome. She should be busy grabbing her own rifle and supplies.

Every scenario mentioned in this article is distasteful to a moral, decent citizen. On Gunblast.com, we normally discuss sporting and recreational firearms. We like shooting for the pleasure of the sport, but personal defense is a necessary topic to review from time to time, and is a reflection upon the times in which we live.  Homeland Security is a responsibility of every citizen, not just those civil servants whom we pay  to protect us.  The fact is, there are people in this world who would do harm to you and me just because we are Americans. There are people who would do you harm because you are white, black, brown, rich, or poor. There are others who would kill you in your sleep for enough money to buy another hit of crack. Most good people donít want to face the fact that there is evil in this world, but evil does exist, and sometimes it comes to visit. It is our duty and our survival to be prepared. Much like having fire insurance on our homes, we hope to never need it.

The United States Department of Homeland Security will never openly advise this, but every citizen should acquire the means to protect themselves, their family, and their country against those who would do us harm, and pray that we never need it.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


In the event of a terrorist attack, riot, or a concerted attack on your home, the "First Rule of Gunfighting" applies: HAVE A GUN. Author recommends a good AR-15 rifle, such as Jeff's custom rifle by Richard Binkley (left) or the tricked-out rifles offered by Double Star (center & right).



Plenty of ammunition is an important component of any "Homeland Security" plan. Even the finest AR-15 is ineffective once you run out of ammo! Buy decent ammo, buy lots of it, and practice!



A good quantity of magazines is a must. You may not have time to reload one or two magazines in a bad situation, and extra AR-15 magazines are cheap insurance. Practice with each of your magazines to make sure they are always in good working order.



In today's uncertain times, it is important to realize that you cannot depend on any government agency to protect your family. Preparedness is the best antidote to terror: be ready, and be unafraid!