> TEOTWAWKI Blog: 5 Lessons from the Panic of 2012



5 Lessons from the Panic of 2012

The gun control madness has been frustrating for most of us, but I think there are some helpful observations we can extrapolate from the whole mess.

This time around, we're seeing panic buying of guns, magazines and ammunition. Now, extend that to the initial hours/days after a wide scale collapse scenario, when you have people running out and buying anything and everything under the sun. Food. Water. Batteries. Tools. Camping gear. Everything.

Using the current panic buying environment as a case study, here are a few things you can expect to see:

#1. Have what you need on hand:
Pretty self explanatory. You don't want to be in the situation where you're desperate to acquire some needed  piece of kit in the eleventh hour...expect to go without or pay exorbitant amounts to acquire it. You knew that tomorrow was the day before Armageddon, what would you be running to the store for? If that list is a very long one, or full of "must haves," then you need to get to work! If you're well squared away, any last minute purchasing may be to add some "nice to haves" or purchase some trade stock for the future--or completely unnecessary.

#2. Expect a limited window of opportunity: 
If you're paying attention and act quickly, you can probably beat some of the masses to the purchase. Boyd's OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) is helpful here. You've got to be faster at getting through your decision loop than the masses--get in while everyone is still trying to process the consequences. If you hesitate, play "wait and see," or drastically underestimate the consequences of the event, you're probably going to be out of luck. Decisive action won't guarantee you get what you need, but it will help.

#3. Have a game plan:
Given the limited window of opportunity, you need to have a plan of action already in place. You won't have time to research options, search for a good price or decide if you need item A or item B more. Spend a few minutes, think through "last minute" items that you would want and write out a prioritized list. In good times,  work your way down that list and acquire the most important items beforehand. Ideally, you'll be able to acquire most or all of the critical items well before any kind of panic. But, if you find yourself in the midst of a run on the market, you'll at least have a list with some forethought behind it to work from.

#4. The obvious items will be first to go:
The panic first hit the most obvious - AR-15s and magazines - and then spread from there. And, people hit the big name dealers first, wiping out their inventories before moving elsewhere. In a disaster, you can expect the obvious survival items will be the first to disappear from shelves - generators, canned goods, guns, ammo, flashlights and batteries, etc. And, Wal-Mart and Home Depot will get swarmed before the corner store or the snooty organic grocery store.

#5. Profiteering will be rampant:
Markups of 200% to 300% seem to be run of the mill in the current panic, and I would expect them to be worse during a wide scale collapse. Gas prices? How about a bag of rice? A bulk pack of AAs? You think you'll be able to find fair prices on the private market, when the shelves have been cleared, the tanks have run dry and the guy down the street has five gallons of gas up for trade? Many will try to cash in on the disaster -- you can count on it.


  1. Excellent post, I have linked it on my Getting Started page. Thanks

  2. Speaking as somebody who has been through a lot of crises (first one I remember is missiles in Cuba).

    "Stuff" WILL happen. Yes, you can be severely screwed by it. Prepare, but do not get crazy. If the people who make money on Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt suddenly raise prices, you have a 90% chance that you can just wait for the panic to subside. They will hype it to increase profits. Companies and Governments are not your friends.

    Realize up front that you are rolling the dice. Roll snake-eyes, you, and maybe your family, are in trouble. Roll anything else, and you could have spent that money on other preparations.

  3. Sounds like a good list.

  4. #2 should be number one. I haven't panicked during this whole thing because by and large things at home were squared away.

    1. Ryan - While I hadn't intended 'em to be a prioritized list, you're right. Changed it for ya :D

      We're the same way here, and I hope most of the readers are in the "squared away" camp, too.

  5. I agree with having what you need on hand. If you don't have what you need on hand for firearms right now (as an example), put your efforts and energy into food/water storage instead.
    Keep scouring classified ads. Frustrating as they can be, you can get some amazing fair priced deals as people get the credit card bills from 'the great panic' buying.

  6. The price gougers will face karmic retribution. I wish them luck after the dust settles and sanity takes back over.

  7. Mr. Apple, I don't think making a little bit of money is wrong. I was recently accused on the internet of being a "scalper and gouger" because I was "charging higher than retail" for some 7.62x39. What is with this mentality? People who don't prepare are entitled to pre-SHTF prices?

    1. I personally don't hold it against people for trying to make a buck due to shortages. Supply & demand...and if you don't like the price, you can go elsewhere.

      I AM annoyed by people who buy up vast quantities of magazines/guns/ammo last minute, helping to induce the shortages, for the sole purpose of trying to make a buck. That's lame.

    2. Yes buying up fast and then demanding high is lame...I'm selling from a stockpile I have had for a while. Moral of the story prep while you can!

  8. I can't believe some of the prices I've been seeing on Gunbroker for some of this stuff. The price gouging by dealers is a little disturbing as well. Those with some honor are few and far between, it seems like it's all about the money!

  9. All of my friends that were making fun of me for stocking up on ammo this summer, claiming how dumb I was for buying so much... were all hitting me up to sell em a box this winter. Told them "only a dumb person would beg to pay today's prices.'