Do You Need a Gun to Garden?

4.93 out of 5 [180 Votes]

Well guns aren’t really that useful for digging or anything like that. But do you need a gun if you are becoming self-reliant? Let me tell you a true story that happened to me an made me decide to go buy several guns.

Back when we were first produced the DVD “Grow Your Own Groceries” I went around to different local stores to see if they would sell it.

I was at a shop talking with the owner about carrying the DVD in his store. He was congenial enough, but looked me right in the eye and told me “I will never need to grow food”. I told him that you never knew what was coming and being able to grow food could be a crucial skill. He folded his arms across his chest and flatly told me he would never have to grow food.

I wondered, did he have a big cache of backup food supplies? Was he already really good at growing food?

But no, he didn’t have stored food nor a garden or livestock.

I asked him why he would never need to be able to produce his own food? Did he not believe anything bad could happen. “Oh, I totally get we could have a collapse at any time” he said. “Yes, an epidemic, or terrorist attack, these could cause really big problems for us” he said.

I couldn’t help but wonder why he wouldn’t want to be more prepared with skills that would be essential in times of trouble.

Puzzled, I asked him again “but if you recognize possible problems coming, why don’t you think you would ever need to grow food?”.

He looked me for a long moment as if I was sort of stupid and said “because I have this”, and from under the counter he pulled out a big black semi-automatic gun.

He carefully laid it on the counter between us pointed in a direction away from anyone.

He wasn’t threatening me, just showing.

I stared at the gun not understanding, and I asked him “What do you mean?”

“Well, if anything happens” he said as if speaking to a child, “it is like this; with this gun I can get all the food I need from people like you who”.

Several customers had been drawn into listening to our conversation agreed with the shop owner.  apparently they too owned guns and figured that if law and order completely broke down, well, they could go about and take whatever they needed.

They were ordinary looking people and I would have never guessed they would have this kind of thinking.

I was speechless. And I didn’t sell any videos.

Now I live in Texas, which has a proud tradition of gun ownership. Buying, selling, and swapping guns is easy and legal – in fact, it is a major pastime for many Texans. And while Texas may be on the more extreme end of the spectrum, that kind of mentality exists in some form everywhere.

Within the history of recent periods it is well documented that crime and violence go up as economic conditions go down. And there certainly are scenarios where law and order break down. Having some level of defense is an important skill.

I used to be the kind of woman who couldn’t even look at the glass case where the guns were in the sports shop. I would avoid my eyes while on the way to the sleeping bags or camping section.

But after the experience with the shop keeper, I realized I needed to learn a whole new set of skills and get over my fears about guns.  And I begna to put a bit more emphasis on understanding defense.

In an upcoming article I’ll write about what guns I’ve ended up choosing to use and why.  And I’ll do a short series on resources that I’ve found particularly useful for understanding principles of defense.

As shocking as the experience with the shopkeeper was, I see it as a good thing.  It opened my eyes to a reality I hadn’t been willing to look at.  While this site is mostly dedicated to food and medicine, I will be bringing forward  what I’ve been learning about personal and home defense.

What a shocker….  huh?




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Marjory Wildcraft

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Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of "homegrown food on every table." Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her "Grow Your Own Groceries" video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.
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150 Comments on Do You Need a Gun to Garden?

  1. Jerry

    Oh, and you have medicine on this site also. Your own most perfectly tailored medicine is urine and that is why there is such a taboo surrounding it.

    Figure it out, that which is best for you or truest is that which is the most denigrated by the controllers.

    Same as the weeds that all you gardeners are busy cursing and all the bugs you hate.

  2. Caroline Cooper

    From your post, it wasn’t clear to me which side the shopkeeper would work for. The bandits? OR the paid protection? Considering he’s a presently a shopkeeper and not a thief, he was likely be thinking about being part of the paid protection or the warrior-class. Do you know which side he wanted to work for?

  3. sargintrock

    A lot of Good, thoughtful comments concerning collapse of Law and Order scenarios.
    We will have to have the mindset of our forebears who settled this country, when Pennsylvania was the Far west or Kaintuck(the dark and bloody ground) was the frontier.
    I don’t want to open that “can of worms” about corrupt government and broken treaties. Let’s concentrate on small family groups trying to make a life for themselves after the horrors of Europe and indentured servitude!
    There were always bands of River pirates or Renegade Indians on raiding parties or outright Wars(French and Indian) that menaced the settlers lives. They learned to never leave the cabin without a firearm and weapons were always kept within arms reach, no matter WHAT they were doing.
    The STRONG survived and the WEAK fell by the wayside. GET USED TO IT!!!A strong faith in our Lord is just as important as a weapon, I might add! People will adapt and develop Tribes or City states of like minded individuals, the main point being there is strength in numbers. Survival is not for the “faint hearted”, that’s why it’s called SURVIVAL.
    I urge everyone to listen to Hank Williams jr.’s ” A Country Boy can Survive”. If this song thrills you to your very marrow and fills you with pride in our Heritage, then I figure you’ll do fine, whatever the future brings. Sharpen your skills cause the day is fast approaching, keep yore head on a swivel and yore powder dry and when it hits the fan, be prepared to Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
    De Oppresso Liber!

  4. doncraigtheodore

    You too can leave and Live As and Amongst the Ever Living.
    Well it follows along with the old adage. “You can’t [shouldn’t] Trust anyone but Thyne Own Self”. Not even the one you married because 99.9% of us all have joined to the wrong one by our own choice. Some have accidently rejoined/married the one who is/was our other-half before we arrived on earth/Jarsoom that being the reality [Married not Joined together by god as is the ordination from on ancient times] then we must be at all times either ready to defend ourselves unto death [either the aggressor/’s or the demise of the body assigned to you whilst you are here].
    That being said, why fight when you can and are assured of winning if you realize that you were not meant to live but merely survive here until you learn that you and your living are not of or from here and you too may leave soon as you realize what you knew before you woke [birthed] here in the state of confusion/illusion and realized you were but a helpless babe who knew that ‘Oops now I have to do this!’ Most of us forgot that initial ‘Earth bound’ thought. Those that haven’t or didn’t have endeavored to atone for that which we did that caused up to be here. When you get it you too will again be capable of losing the surly bonds of earth and again begin to know what you knew and really Live [amongst those who are ever-living].
    Some of us are assigned to be here to inform you of that/the facts and point you to ‘the door off the holodeck known as the earthly experience’. Not to do it for you but to Inform you that and of where it is you are. The instructions/method is easily found for they are imprinted within you who were or are to be again amongst the ever-living.
    You knew them now you just need to recognize them and rekindle the fire/essence of living that was temporarily put on hold, lest you prove you were in fact guilty of that which caused you to be here and are destined to suffer death and become as if you never were so that you are not a polluting factor of the realm of those whom it is are Ever Living. Tis’ that inequity that you didn’t correct, correct it and you too will never do it or be guilty of it again.
    Pause for the Cause: as this is not the venue to continue this line/direction.

  5. Steven C

    The shop owners response is disappointing. In the event of a collapse he will become part of the problem and not the solution. This is one reason why “preppers” keep their activities mostly private. Of course, now you know in advance one person you will need to protect yourself from in the event of a crash.

  6. Joe

    Well the obvious response to that situation is to step back and take the guys picture with your cell phone and when he asks why you did that tell him it is for the “SHOOT ON SIGHT’ posters that you are getting ready for SHTF. Thank him profusely for the warning.

  7. Dennis Bosworth

    My wallet was stolen at our local Wall Mart store this month. This has never happened to me before and I realized the environment I was shopping in was ripe for this kind of thing. The whole area there has a high density of street beggars. This increase of street beggars is something I have noticed over a period of about a decade. Many people steal as if it was their right to steal. It wouldn’t take much to advance them to the point that they would kill as if it were their right to kill. I sense this mentality is increasing in popularity. In making the distinction between the STANDARD of living and the QUALITY of living, the erosion I am writing about has been going on for quite some time. It makes me think that our decline would be a slow and agonizing process, but then, perhaps it will get to the point where the floor will just suddenly drop out from under us. I have no way of knowing how this decline will eventually manifest itself. Over a long period of time, we become desensitized over our decline – it is like being slowly boiled in a pot of water.
    Living in a rural environment, we already have a number of guns, but I don’t carry them around at all times – in fact, one of my handguns is somewhere under the cloths hamper (I think) collecting dust-bunnies. The others are in a gun safe which is locked. Someone armed could spring on me without much worry of resistance. So how do we go about our lives without constantly being on the muscle – which is about as dangerous as being assailed by an armed intruder? This is a great discussion, and it begs the question, how do we protect ourselves while simply shopping to fending off an armed insertion? Guns are a necessary tool, but they are only good for certain situations. What we really need is an arsenal of defensive tools. A gun is not a cure-all for every danger. I am adding to my arsenal, knowing where not to be.

  8. DJ

    Nonsense. I doubt this conversation even actually occurred. It most certainly did not go as described. “Shopkeeper?” Did you travel back to the 1950s for your research? While I don’t doubt that this kind of ignorance actually exists, even the most ignorant shopkeeper understands that threatening customers/visitors – even while debating theoretical scenarios – is lousy business. Moreover, somebody who relies on production chains to provide the the items that drive profits would be unlikely to make such an outrageous and shortsighted claim. Normally, this could be dismissed as run-of-the-mill claptrap. In this case, however, your flimsy pretext borders on irresponsible. Encouraging (read:scaring) people to stockpile firearms only aggravates an already inflamed problem in the world. If the only thing standing between you and the hordes of bandits is your gun, it’s already too late. Even if you manage to defend yourself for a little while, more and more will come and eventually you will be dead or worse and your estate plundered. Period. It’s the same fallacy held by those who think they can defend themselves against a “tyrannical government” with a gun. Fiction. If you’re really concerned about such things (and by things, I mean imagined perils), I suggest you move to a highly secluded area that isn’t likely to be reached by someone who isn’t able to provide for themselves. That’s the only certain way to ensure survival. Anything else is delusional. In the meantime, however, please stop advocating gun ownership as a solution to theoretical and implausible problems. The only thing that is actually going to result from more people getting guns is more dead people.

  9. harvey montgomery

    Marjory, I don’t usually leave comments, but this one I couldn’t pass up. first like somone else said the guy is a jerk, true enough. but there is a world full those kind of people, so we have too deal with them. and using a gun is what it takes then so be it. if I was you I would not broadcast that I bought guns and learned to use them. you are telling people your business. and that helps in their plan too take your food and life. your readers don’t have the need to know. this may sound a little harsh but better that than dead.

  10. Rick Allen

    I had this experience over 25 years ago. I belong to a church that has always encouraged its members to prep for unexpected bumps in life, like losing ones job or long term storm damage. One of my friends was teaching a neighbor about why one should prepare food storage for disaster. The guy finally got it and then made the statement, “I will need to buy some guns as well, to protect what I have.” My friend, bless her naive Pollyanna like, ‘everything will be roses and we will sit around the campfire singing Michael Row The Boat Ashore’ heart, said “you don’t need guns, just do what we plan to do and share with your neighbors and friends.”

    I’m not making this up. She thought that in time of disaster, the good folk would politely line up at the door for a handout. Yeah, maybe the first day, but the next day there would be 10 times as many people and they wouldn’t be looking for a little hand out. She simple couldn’t fathom that happening. Believing in not wasting breath on someone unwilling to learn, I simply shrugged, wished her family luck with that plan and walked away.

    I believe in helping my fellow neighbor, and my friends and family know I will always help if I can, but when people come demanding my families food, then things will get a little bit dicey.

  11. Ricardo Ruiz

    Hi Marjory, interesting views on the subject of weapons and the possibility of needing to use them if the system is “down”. For years in my work with peasants and indigenous groups in Mexico I discovered the power of community life. Where different knowledge and skills get added to the group. In these groups the talents and skills are added and shared in the community. For example some know “cure” others produce different types of food, and others know how to perform jobs that contribute to community development. In these communities the important decisions are taken by assembly. When there are clear rules of conduct and the conviction that the group gives him the strength to each family and individual lives, it is much easier to face difficult situations where precise use of the defense force. An example of this are the so-called “Self-Defense” that are already emerging in many parts of Mexico, where family members get together to deal with these situations. Facing these circumstances only as an individual but you are well armed it becomes very difficult. My suggestion is to join a group that can implement a plan in case of an eventuality arises as described above. That I think the only option.

    I think readers of Marjory are good people who are looking for some way to change the paradigm of civilization is collapsing today. So I think we urgently need to create new communities flourish these new forms of community life, where respect for others can germinate. It would be tragic to let us wrap fear and focus only muster to repel these possible attacks, which are real.

    I apologize for the lack of syntax, but I am using the google translator.


  12. Spider

    I live in Adelaide Australia where most guns are illegal though we do have gun crime I sleep with something beside my bed just in case someone breaks in for self defense .. But I`m glad I don`t have to keep a gun in the bedroom as I friend of mine in the US does though he has never had to use it just having it there should tell him something .. I do not sit in judgment of your way of life , I have always wanted a hand gun just for target shooting , for no other reason ..
    Take care and your aim true .. Spider ..

  13. Yeah, unfortunately, this attitude is out there far more so that peaceable, gentle folks such as yourself can imagine. However, this kind of moron will have a short career as a ‘taker’ in some post apocalyptic scenario, because they will sooner or later run into other people like themselves and will cancel each other out, OR they will run into ‘hardened’ communities full of ‘gun nut survivalists’ (like me and crew) who will NOT go quietly or submit to such thugs.

  14. Marty

    Marjorie, I’m glad your eyes are now wide open. After 31 years in law enforcement I can tell you it’s everywhere. After retirement from a large police department in Southern California, I had to get out. Yes, it’s the same in California. We moved to the mountains of Central Utah with what I thought would be better people nearby. We have a few of the same kind of idiots in a fairly rural area. You can’t seem to get away from them. Even people who know I’m always armed, have made the same kind of statements to me. My advice to all like minded preppers is to buy a variety of weapons, LEARN to use them, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. You don’t have to burn 100’s of dollars worth of ammo to practice. There are many programs available which stress ‘dry firing’ exercises which probably are even better training then using live ammo. The point is the good folks have to be armed or the bad folks will have everything. Marty

  15. Great Grey

    For those that think just having a gun will get them what they what they want, better look at what happened to Jessie Jame’s gang or the Dalton brothers. Some city slickers knocked the stuffing out of some country bums.

  16. HSMom2004

    Having a gun to garden actually is practical simply from the perspective of vermin such as gophers that would ruin a garden or snakes like rattlers that may get in one’s chicken coop.

    It is also beneficial to protect oneself from larger animals who would harm one’s family such as feral hogs and wild cats or coyotes. In our case, small to medium sized feral hogs go in the freezer. They have been a blessing to sustain us during some financial trials – and have been able to be used to bless others going through worse trials. The mountain lion has not been spotted in a good while, thankfully, and the coyotes have started keeping their distance again. Nonetheless, being prepared and accustomed to the weapons and any quirks they may have can be lifesaving. I once tried to shoot a pest at point blank distance. Nothing. Come to find out, the pistol shoots low and wide right. I had not practiced with that one to know that. I was thankful it was not something trying to do harm to my children with its great inaccuracy.

    In another situation, my husband took my dd’s to look for a Christmas tree on the property only to have our dogs go after a set of 15 hogs or more – two different sets of them on a single outing. He only had the single-shot pistol with him. The girls got set in a safe tree, but DH realized if they had gone just a little further and come up on them, he would not have been in a position to protect them with the gun he took. The older dd (10) was petrified and wants nothing to do with looking for Christmas trees here again. The younger (7) was scared at the time, but looked at it as an adventure and she’s already made plans for next Christmas’ outing.

    Even so, from a preparation point of view, I have talked to some about making sure they have necessary supplies put back as they can. One person (a family member) told me 1) he had his rifle, so he was ready because he could hunt his own meat. Really? With everyone else out hungry and thinking the same thing, too? If there is no electricity, how are you going to store it? and 2) that he was coming to our house. While I wouldn’t mind his family and him being here, the fact that he would come unprepared with five mouths to feed and little to nothing of his own to bring to feed them is not a good option. He’s getting that, but if anything happens in the next two years, it will be a problem for them.

    From the other perspective, it is critically important to know how to use one’s weapons properly and be proficient in their use. For threats from people, most times the person in the right can simply point their weapon at the other who would do the homeowner or other individuals harm and the other will go away without having to fire a single shot. Being prepared to provide for ourselves and our family as well as being able to share with others in need as we can is wonderful. For those who would do no harm but are simply hungry, sharing if we are able to is good. Being prepared for those who would do us or our family harm is a sad necessity.

  17. When all the prepper’s without defenses are gone, and all the sons o’ b’s that will use their guns to take the food have taken all the food, there will only be those prepper’s WITH defences left, they will be the ones with the skills to survive long after the sob’s have died out of starvation because they will not be able to eat their guns…

    We are in the UK and cannot easily access guns, but there are other means. More along the lines of what has been described as ‘wicked’ although Hawthorn hedges with Blackberry woven in help :) We as a family have discussed this many times, our children have been brought up to think regularly about what we would be able to do should TSHTF. The fact that the skills of food growing and foraging in the wild will go with us for life feels far better than the thought of shooting it out. We probably would not survive here at home, but the skills we have are easily carried (in our minds) and the fact that we grow, not just to eat, but to produce seeds SHOULD stand us in good stead!

    Love Peace and Respect

  18. Mike French

    It seems that we all must try and lay low under the radar for now because as you just witnessed the people whom don’t give a damn are going to come and take what we have. So as for me and my wife we are learning and doing as much as we can before the SHTF. So we are prepared with weapons and know how to use them to protect what we have. So That’s my advice lay low ,learn what you can,get weapons,learn how to protect yourself and family and live as best as you can.

  19. Robert Severs

    The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation

  20. Debbie

    I’m a little late in getting in on this post but, I’m not surprised at all. We are from AR (that’s Arkansas) but live in TX at the moment. We are big on the 2nd and believe in self protection. My own SON said just what this man did and my husband told him “That’s all well and good until you run into someone like me.” They THINK they can take what they want and with a lot of people it would work. But, you just never know who you are going to run into; veterans, hunters other preppers with lots of experience and lots of ammo. It all sounds good and easy to them but it’s a HUGE gamble and risk.

    Let me give you a tip if you are ever faced with a crowd coming for your food. Meet them at the door well before they get there. Meet them with a gun. They WILL stop. Most people are not up for running headlong into gun fire. One person usually stands out as the ‘leader.’ They will incite the rest to move. THAT is the one you take out and it will stop the rest. It’s harsh, but, it’s reality in survival.

  21. DaveM

    There is a great deal to be said for taking all steps possible to “fortify” your home or at least make it difficult to get into for those who are not wanted. Reinforcements, including bars, for all doors are easy to install and reasonably priced. Similarly, one can add bars to windows or place inconspicuous strips of razor wire where they will be “inconvenient” to anyone trying to get in that way (broken bottles/glass shards on the windows sills couldn’t hurt). Have a “panic room” in your home–keep at least some of your supplies in there and it will do double duty!

    It can be a very good idea to learn about improvised weapons and home protection, all considerations about firearms aside. In some states, the average citizen is not allowed to carry a can of Mace. No one will fault you from having a can or several of oven cleaner on hand, preferably close to the door or any other potential “weak point”. An attacker may try to “burn you out”. Have several fire extinguishers handy and make sure to keep them charged. A blast to the face from a fire extinguisher just might slow an attacker down, too.

    The movie “Straw Dogs” includes an excellent, though fictional, portrayal of two people trying to defend their home against a group of attackers who are trying to force their way in. It’s worth watching to see what they come up with. Among other things, they keep water boiling on the stove, and when someone manages to get one of the boards off the windows, they throw a pot full through the gap.

    Quite agree with the person who mentioned baseball bats–as Clint Eastwood put it in “Pale Rider”: “there’s nothing quite like a nice piece of hickory”. With minimal training, an ordinary cane or walking stick can be an excellent defensive or offensive weapon. Practicing is excellent low-impact exercise.

    ANYTHING that extends your reach or keeps the bad guys at a distance from you can be a lifesaver. Learn what can be done with whatever is at hand. And yes, get yourself a pump-action shotgun (a 20 gauge has a lot less recoil and plenty of power for hunting or self-defense). Working the slide is the international signal for “get out of here!” As things stand, 90%+ of defensive uses of firearms do not involve a shot being fired. Don’t count on it, mind, but the average assailant looking down the barrel of a shotgun is more than likely to decide that there are better places to be.

  22. Trish

    I live in a state where gun ownership is problematic and involves many layers of background checks and registrations. I’m a military vet trained in gun usage and safety. But husband doesn’t want gun in house. So I hide my garden behind tall wood fence and don’t tell anyone about any stockpiles. I also keep weighted baseball bat handy and hefty dog who’d give her life to protect me. How many kinds of stupid was the guy you described telling his neighbors he had something they’d want to steal???

  23. Leslie Parsons

    According to Stewart Rhodes, of Oath Keepers, people of this mentality will be cleared out within two weeks, by even a lightly armed population. That cowardly shopkeeper may not feel so aggressive, when he has to face off the sheriff and several angry “Daddies and Mommies”. Here’s another Texas custom…… “Bring it!”