Opinion

In case of disaster, shake a stranger's hand | Firearms Lawyer

My travels as a lawyer often take me to remote towns in our grandly beautiful Evergreen State.

I appear in various courthouses and have the pleasure of greeting the judges, talking gun politics with local peace officers and getting to meet people who live outside of our great big Seattle metropolitan area.

On the way back from Cosmopolis on a brightly burnished day recently, I started thinking about how important it is to introduce ourselves to some of the leading citizens wherever we go.

I first started thinking about this when I was reading a book by Louis L’Amour. One of his characters rode from town to town, always introducing himself to a few men in each town as soon as he arrived because he never knew when there might be trouble. It never hurts to have a few people that recognize you as an honest man of good character.

L’Amour is more of a philosopher to me than a mere novelist writing tales in the Western genre. When I began thinking about what I wanted to include in my law firm’s website, it occurred to me I should discuss emergency preparedness.

If there is ever a “situation,” I want to make sure that everyone in Federal Way knows I am one of the good guys. Besides, anticipating risks and managing the aftermath of various personal and public disasters is what lawyering is all about.

I started thinking about disaster preparedness and realized that no matter how much food, water, fuel, equipment and ammunition I can store, neighbors have to cooperate and share resources to survive a long-term natural disaster. Our primary goal in an emergency is to make sure that my wife and I don’t have to go to a public facility for housing or stand in line. Government assistance will mean waiting a long time with very limited options.

In the case of manmade situations (social unrest often develops as a consequence of natural or economic catastrophes), we cannot reasonably expect to defend our loved ones unless we start communicating with our neighbors, police and other public authorities now. Whether thugs roam the streets or we are invaded by foreign armies, no amount of guns and ammunition can take the place of good neighbors if we ever need to confront lawless adversaries who are determined to take what we hold dear by force.

In places like Cosmopolis and Cathlamet, everyone pretty much already knows each other. In Federal Way, we often have to try harder to meet our neighbors. There are many ways that you can meet and discuss critical issues with your neighbors, police, city council members and other public officials.

There are CERT classes and the Citizen’s Academy. The Federal Way Police Department will present block watch meetings for your neighborhood. On Dec. 8, there will be a meeting at City Hall that presents information about organizing your neighborhood to deal with emergencies.

Attending these and other meetings exposes you to like-minded citizens. They give you the opportunity to talk to public officials and police officers who are tasked with patrolling your neighborhood.

The police and other professional first responders are hired to assist ordinary citizens like you and I — and to maintain order.

Those in authority appreciate ordinary people who understand the practical aspects of the oath public servants take to uphold the Constitution. You and I take such an oath every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Whether we participate in school board meetings, learn how to give first aid during an emergency or just take time to introduce ourselves to a busy neighbor, we can expand the cause of freedom and promote public safety.

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