Usually when we discuss prepping it is with the view that we will be making ourselves better able or more likely to survive a disaster. By being prepared, common sense would seem to indicate that it is completely logical that you and everyone who is prepared will have a huge advantage over the people who didn’t prepare for anything. How can you argue with that logic? People who are prepared will be better off, right? Not in all cases it appears and more and more events are showing how instead of making you better able to ride out the effects of a hurricane or societal collapse, prepping can be hazardous to your health.
Don’t believe me? You don’t have to look any further than the case last week of Martin Winters. The details surrounding Mr. Winters run from law enforcement are a little strange. It seems that this man was being investigated by the FBI since September and he was actually indicted in October according to an article from ABC News in Tampa. The charges seem to stem from his involvement in a group that call themselves the River Otter Preppers. I was able to find a website but I can’t verify that it is for this group and all videos appear to have been removed. It is the same with the YouTube channel and I can’t really blame them for wanting to remove anything that could be construed negatively. Hindsight is 20/20.
According to reports, Mr. Winters fled from FBI agents who tried to serve him a warrant.
That begs the question though of Mr. Winters and what he and the River Otter Preppers were doing in the first place. According to the FBI, in that ABC article, Mr. Winters apparently was talking about plans he or his group had to an undercover agent.
Winters was known as the leader of the River Otter Preppers, a group preparing for an “end-of-times event as prophesied by the Book of Revelations,” the report says.
The report says he used “straw buyers,” a person who purchased the guns on his behalf, to obtain numerous AR-15s. He also fashioned destructive devices from metal tube pipes designed to fire 12-gauge shotgun shells.
Winters detailed his plans to an undercover agent, the report says, including a scenario that involved releasing propane gas in his home and setting it ablaze while he shot at agents from concealed positions.
If true, that information highlights a major problem with Mr. Winters’ plans or his discernment in sharing information. It would seem to indicate bad judgment on several levels for The River Otter Preppers and perhaps Mr. Winters also if the methods described to buy weapons were actually used. I don’t know the religious beliefs of the members of the River Otter Preppers, but if the story is true and they were planning for Armageddon as foretold in Revelations, don’t you think they would have kept that to themselves a little?
That was the case on June 16th at least according to the sources used by ABC News. Now we know that Mr. Winters has turned himself in and a search of his property did not reveal any large cache of weapons or homemade explosive devices.
Here is what I could see possibly happening.
Mr. Winters is probably a very nice man who is concerned about the future and protecting his family. I think that he has been prepping and along the way became involved with a larger prepping group. In that group he found a lot of other people with similar concerns and fears so they started the River Otter Preppers which attracted even more people. Those fears led to conversations plans and scenarios about what was possible if this “end of times event” actually happened. Maybe after a few drinks, some of the members engaged in story telling about their preps that bled into fiction and exaggeration. Within the River Otter Preppers, there was an FBI Mole who may have goaded the conversations from the beginning to increase the likelihood of these lies being told and a case was made to bring in Mr. Winters because of those stories he shared.
I could be completely wrong about all of that. Mr. Winters could really have tons of weapons stashed and time will tell, but the fact that Mr. Winters was indicted illustrates another example of why it is so important to make sure you are very wise with how you prep, who you associate with and lastly what information you share. I am not advocating breaking any laws, but if Mr. Winters is innocent then his actions and the growing prejudice of our law enforcement towards anyone who fits this mold even slightly should have told him to expect this sooner or later.
Being self-reliant is no longer a good thing according to our government and they are trying their best to paint anyone who is prepping as dangerous but it goes much further than that. The MIAC report in 2009 painted libertarians, returning veterans and anyone who is opposed to immigration or abortion as “right-wing extremists”. If they get all worked up about a Ron Paul bumper sticker on your truck, imagine what they think when you say you are going to fill the house with propane and blow them all up when they come for you. The MIAC report was even backed up by then DHS head Janet Napolitano so this thinking is currently approved from the highest levels of government. I think by their actions alone people in government are demonstrating that Americans who value freedom, who have fought for their country, who crave liberty and the concept of property rights are the ones to watch. People illegally entering this country, members of Al Qaida and violent extremists are just fine and we should send them money and weapons.
Knowing that is what you have to deal with from the Government is one thing, but what about other people you could have to worry about?
Who can you trust?
Even if you aren’t in a self-described militia and are buying lots of guns and building explosive devices to show off to FBI Informants, do you discuss politics with your family and friends? Do you discuss how many weapons you have or your plans for societal collapse? Have you shown them the photos of your bug out retreat on your smart phone? Your supply of 6 months of drinking water and your basement full of #10 Cans of food? What about your neighbors? Do they see you running around in camo practicing shooting arrows into man-size targets in the back yard like Rambo? Do they see the pallet loads of freeze dried food arriving every six months or you loading the back of the modified Bug Out Vehicle for the weekly trips to the gun range?
I will always maintain that Prepping for disasters is smart. By disasters, I am not referring to the Biblical endgame in Revelations. It is perfectly sensible to want to prepare for unseen events and protect your family but if we are coasting along without any major SHTF events and you are talking about buying weapons illegally to strangers and sharing how you plan to blow up law enforcement officers, you are wrong. These actions are not what I consider Prepping and the fact that they repeatedly refer to Mr. Winters as a Doomsday Prepper just hurts the image of prepping in general and paints it in a completely different light. If you are talking and acting like this you should expect to receive unwanted attention too.
Now, let’s assume that we do go through a collapse and it’s time for your supplies to be put into use. Do you whip out your generators, dump the boxes of MRE’s on the counter and have at it? Do you go dig up your buried cache of weapons, food and first aid supplies in broad daylight or do you sit quietly and watch your neighbors? Do you come clean with all your supplies, set up the solar panels and have all the lights in your house on, Billy Joel blaring from the CD player while their homes are dark?
What about OPSEC?
I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying here. Again, I am not advocating breaking any laws. I am also not suggesting that we don’t all need to watch out for the actions of our government. What I am saying is that you should take care to be sensible about your preps and with sharing information about both prepping and your plans. The easiest example would be to forget about discussing illegal activities should SHTF with anyone. If the grid ever actually goes down, we will all be playing by different rules anyway, but you do not want to be sitting in jail if that day comes, do you?
Take time to realize what you are saying and doing can be misconstrued by anyone and your preps might be silly to people now, but they will be vital if we do have a real disaster. You have to think strategically at all times and maybe even more if we do have an emergency. We talk about using good OPSEC all the time, but one slip could get you in a world of hurt. Now, you have to worry about the FBI knocking at your door if you have been running your mouth at your Prepper group. If the SHTF, your whole neighborhood might be knocking on the door for your supplies. Someone may think you need to be killed for your supplies.
If you are prepping, you must be doing this so that you will have supplies, skills or resources that could be used to your benefit in an emergency scenario. You probably already know that you and people like you are in the minority and it wouldn’t take much for people who are hurting, scared or even paranoid to turn on you and take what you have or try to turn you in for what you have done. Be careful with what you say and who you say it to.