New Year’s Eve 2020 was a constant stream of online declarations of happiness that 2020 was over and 2021 would be different.
The reality is that 2021 is shaping up to be another year of life, not being what people expect. At this point, there are still some that say “when things go back to normal.” At this point, that is not a healthy outlook to have. Too much has happened for things to go back to how they were. Can they improve and get better? Sure they can, but it might take some time and a lot of unpleasantness. Even if the far future is very bright, it can never be like it was. You can’t go back. You have to go forward.
There are many reasons why 2021 is going to be challenging and violent overall. I will provide some background and facts and then discuss some methods you can use to stay safe in the year to come.
We have spent the last 4 years hearing many Democrats and those on the left saying “Not My President.” Well, now we see the other side saying, “Not the President.” If Joe Biden does succeed in being sworn in as president, the side that said “Not My President” for the last 4 years will be disappointed when they don’t get the change they think will magically occur without Trump in the White House.
The economy cannot support the demands even if someone puts pen to paper and drafts laws and referendums that pass. Socialism works great until you run out of other people’s money to spend.
Special interest groups such as BLM are already unhappy that Biden and Harris have ignored their requests to meet and discuss matters for over 3 months. That is not the reaction I think they expected after the election.
On January 6, there is a large rally in DC to try to salvage an election full of fraud. It is well organized, and there seems to be a lot of people going. There was violence as darkness fell in DC during the last march. It was pretty clear that Antifa waited until people were not necessarily in large groups and trying to wind down for the day. I hope that people stay in larger groups this time so that it is harder for people to be singled out for abuse. These people have no respect for older people. They seem to have no problem attacking the elderly.
Many people consider this next march the last chance to turn the tide and demand the electoral college not accept Joe Biden as president of the USA. I see no reason to assume that Antifa and other groups will not make their presence known.
In 2021, political violence will stay mostly in mid-sized towns and larger cities at first, but there will likely be increasing clashes in the suburbs. Given enough incidents, it is hard to see a way for this to happen without some resulting in bloodshed. We have not seen a major firefight play out in the suburbs yet, but I would not be surprised to see it in 2021.
Until 2020 much of the political dissent was non-violent. We will not be going back to that in the near future. In fact, many people claim that violence is now justified. They have had enough.
People increasingly feel that acts of violence in response to a difference of opinion is justified. Free speech is not considered a right by many.
Do you think that just because somebody says something you disagree with or find reprehensible, that the situation should immediately turn to violence? Does someone deserve to be killed for uttering something that you don’t like or find wrong?
Even people who seem quite peaceful to meet or talk to increasingly think that free speech acts can justify potentially lethal violence. We are going to see more and more of this type of behavior in the near future.
People on the left and right need to remind themselves that there is a point when violence is very easy to start but almost impossible to stop. It has to play out to the end. Small acts of violence can lead to much larger ones.
Crime and Punishment
We need police. Police departments have been defunded, and many good officers that loved their job have quit. They have faced a lot of hostility, their families have been threatened, and many were no longer allowed to do the job they were hired for.
The utopian ideal that we can work problems out without designated enforcers is great in theory, but it quickly falls apart in practice. Society has to agree upon some basic rules and enforce them, or it will break down. How fast the breakdown happens is dependent on many factors, such as customs, values, population, and environmental stressors.
People are less likely to feel the need to act out or commit violence if they have an acceptable degree of comfort and security in their daily lives. At the moment, many people do not have what they consider an acceptable degree of comfort and security. More crime and fewer cops available to enforce laws is a bad combination.
Increased rates of unsolved murders and shootings
Fewer police officers combined with COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in murders remaining unsolved. Investigations cannot operate as they once did. The Wall Street Journal reported
“Homicides were up nearly 40% for the country’s 10 largest police departments in the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. The clearance rate at nine departments that provided data was down by an average of 7 percentage points to about 59%.”
Even in some medium-sized cities, homicide and violent crime rates are up a lot. Asheville, NC, is a city of 92,452. The number of gun-related calls to the police stood at 593 on November 30. Compare that to a total of 115 calls for all of 2019. Homicides have doubled too.
Neighborhoods that were once in high demand and full of businesses are now violent, with shots being fired into homes. More than 20 years of huge improvements and increased small businesses have been undone in a year.
Increase in crimes that result in a fatality.
The pandemic, civil, political, and economic unrest of 2020 have led to a world populace on edge. This, all too often expresses itself in an increase in violent crimes. As more people face economic ruin, the more are tempted to commit crimes.
Officially homicide rates are up drastically, but violent crimes like robbery and rape are down. This data is misleading. For example, if a murder happens and a robbery was involved, the crime is counted as murder. The robbery aspect is tossed to the side. What these statistics really indicated is an alarming increase in crimes that turn fatal.
Courts are not trying cases quickly.
Due to COVID restrictions, courts are setting dates that are very far in the future.
Release of inmates from prison
Some prisons are turning offenders out before sentences are served, or they are eligible for parole. While some of these people may have learned their lesson and desire to be productive citizens, they are entering regular society at a time of high unemployment. Many businesses have closed. Those that get out that have few job skills will find that the service jobs that were once available to them are much harder to find. Those that have degrees or that are trained to perform a mid to high demand trade may fair better, but even a lot of those jobs are just not there.
These tough economic times could make it very tempting for some to turn back to illegal means to get what they need to survive.
Recent releases of inmates include 2,000 released on November 4, 2020, from New Jersey prisons. In late July, California governor Newsom announced that 8,000 inmates with less than a year left to serve would be granted early parole.
For an extensive list of releases, check out Prison Policy Initiative. Their site shows that the releases are not just happening in areas with large populations.
Reduced charges and lack of enforcement
The examples below are just a few of many. Reduced charges for crimes and selective enforcement of laws is happening all over the country.
In 2020 the state of Oregon became the first to decriminalize all drugs. People can possess small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine for personal use with no fear of criminal prosecution.
In Seattle, people are not being charged for any crime that can be attributed to poverty. While the city council has not officially passed the resolution to allow this lack of enforcement, it is happening anyway.
The homeless population can steal and harass without fear of any punishment. Of course, this means they don’t have access to any of the programs offered to those incarcerated, such as drug rehabilitation and treatment. There is no money to be made when someone has nothing to take.
If you don’t live in poverty, then you will likely be willing to pay court costs, fines, lawyers, and any other associated expenses to avoid jail or get a reduced charge. Don’t think this is not well known. A lot of people profit from this.
Months before the first case of COVID-19 in the USA, California was experiencing an increase in crime fueled by the passing of Proposition 47. While the proposition was passed 5 years prior to that, the consequences have snowballed with the rising number of drug addicts and homeless. The proposition allows for a maximum charge of a misdemeanor if the value of the property is below $950. Combine that with selective enforcement due to the high rates of crimes that are considered more serious, and it is easy to see why
The Dallas Police Department announced that they would not be sending officers out for calls involving car thefts, criminal mischief, and child custody disputes. They also do not plan on coming out for a runaway kid.
Continued Exodus To Rural Areas
The exodus to rural areas at the moment is largely people with good economic means. They have resources. They can work from home or have other private incomes to sustain them. Having enough to eat and paying for other needs is not a big hurdle. They still may run into some differences with their new neighbors. Not everyone that moves to the country realizes that there are not as many rules.
Just because something may not have been allowed in town doesn’t mean it is here. For example, in my area, I can shoot guns on my property. In fact, I can shoot a rifle during daylight hours as much as I want. As long as the bullets are not hitting someone else’s place, they can get annoyed all they want. There is no crime or fine that can occur. Barking dogs or dogs that lunge at a fence are another thing that city people complain about. In the country, you have to get used to it.
At some point, if cities get bad enough or supplies run low, people without means will search out safety and food in rural areas.
If you are one of the people that have recently moved or are considering moving to a rural area, do not think you will be able to rely on any of your new neighbors for anything at all. Many of the country people who have prepared for supply disruptions will not willingly part with any supplies. You need to be prepared to take care of yourself.
Staying Safe and Defending Your Family
Let’s talk Castle Doctrine.
If you are lucky, you live in a place with Castle Doctrine laws. These laws give you the right to defend your home up to fatally wounding someone that illegally enters your home with the intent to commit a crime or violence. For example, if someone breaks into your house and is stealing things, you can defend yourself, and the law is on your side.
A lot of people think that they have a right to defend themselves using deadly force if necessary. That is not true in some states. You are expected to stand down and get to safety. That means leaving your house and not stopping the crime. You are expected to run away.
Avoid hot zones
In many places, the nexus of the protests and gathering is well known. This can change as more people join in.
If at all possible, plan out your commute and errands so that you stay a safe distance from protest zones. Driving down the wrong street and into the trouble has led to some people getting their cars hit or worse just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Those that have to go through volatile areas to get to work or other obligations should consider what small steps they can take to avoid the chaos. For example, perhaps entering a building from the back rather than the front and carrying and easy to reach method of self-defense such as pepper spray.
Arm family members with a method of self-defense
Technically some weapons are only supposed to be carried by people over 18. What is ok for one kid is not necessarily ok for another. When I was 14, I carried a knife and pepper spray. That was in the 90s. Most parents probably wouldn’t allow that nowadays.
Regardless of what you choose for family members. It is important that everyone know how to defend themselves. Even small kids can learn some karate or squirmy moves that can help them stay safe.
Remember that everyday objects can be used as weapons. Teach people to use what they have on hand if necessary. Some toys like baseball bats are legal for anyone to have and make a formidable weapon.
Stop posting everything to social media.
Social media can be used against it. It is not just that your words can come back to haunt you in a world of cancel culture. People that don’t have your best interests at heart can keep up with where you are or when you will be away.
I see a lot of people posting personal conflicts and disagreements for the world to see. By doing this, you expose your vulnerabilities and open yourself up to manipulation. Bad characters knowing your weaknesses is never good.
Pick your battles
People have their political and moral differences. It is highly unlikely that saying disparaging things or calling someone names is going to miraculously change how they feel. Even well researched, cited, and proven facts cannot do that with some folks.
Ask yourself if something that you say online or in-person is actually going to achieve anything when discussing politics, religion, or morality. If it is not, then why draw attention to yourself during uncertain times?
Fortify your home
- Add security to your doors.
- Install security cameras and lighting
- Consider a fence and gate.
- Install private property or no trespassing signs
- Driveway alarms
- Remove potential projectiles from areas close to busy roads.
- Add windows security film.
- Install window alarms and better locks
If things get really bad, consider doing the following:
Add Molotov protection to windows.
Chicken wire or mesh stretched tightly over windows can prevent Molotov Cocktails and other projectiles from entering a building. This can at least prevent people inside from getting hit and the interior from catching fire immediately. If your building is concrete, you may be able to prevent fire entirely. Wood exteriors and trim are very vulnerable. Concrete board siding like Hardie Board offers good fire protection.
Fortifying a safe room
Rooms in the center of a home are safer than those facing out if someone gets thrown or bullets start to fly. The more mass you can put between yourself and a bullet, the better.
Creating an area of extra protection is definitely something that those with children should think about.
You can fortify a small safe space in your home using a variety of materials. Thick mattresses, heavy wood furniture, scrap metal, and more can all help slow things down or offer you some protection if you are shooting.
Have a plan for bugging out, at least temporarily.
Sheltering in place or bugging in makes sense more often than not. There comes a point where staying is foolhardy at best. You may need to leave quickly for at least a short period of time. This is why it is important to have a bag packed for each family member. Of course, parents may want to plan splitting children’s items up between the two adult packs. Kids that are old enough should carry some gear themselves so long as they are not overloaded.
Keep ahead of household supplies.
It is nice not to feel like you absolutely have to go shopping. Having at least a few weeks of supplies gives you a cushion so you can pick safer times to leave. Sometimes staying at home for just a few days can allow you to avoid a lot of trouble.
Get ahead more as you can afford it. It takes time to build up larger supply stockpiles. Some may have more limited space for storage too. I am often asked how much food and other supplies I think someone should have. The answer is 6 months to a year minimum in an ideal situation. That is not realistic for some. Starting out with a few weeks and building up a stash as you can is more realistic.
Try to have at least two weeks of the following:
- Water storage containers filled with water. Don’t waste money on bottled.
- Water filter in case your water system becomes contaminated, or you need to seek out another source.
- Medical supplies and medications
- Cooking and heating fuel.
- Baby supplies or anything your kids absolutely need.
- Keep your gas tank topped off and store a few cans if you have space. For long term fuel storage, use some fuel stabilizer.
- If you have a firearm, keep it where it is away from kids, but you can safely access it when at home. A lot of people have firearms, but they are not easily accessible to them if there is a real need.
- Buy your vices now. If you smoke or drink, keep some extra around, so you are not tempted to go out to satisfy your habit.
- Have something that takes your mind off things. A hobby or something for entertainment is helpful when staying home under stressful circumstances.
- Check-in with elderly relatives. Offer to help them with shopping or other needs so that they have what they need for a few weeks too.