Darren LaSorte was born in Montana and grew up as an Army brat. From the very beginning, his interests were firearms, hunting and freedom. He read voraciously about the Founding Fathers and the earliest days of democracy’s greatest experiment. He began his study of self-defense firearms use while a student at Arizona State University and has spent thousands of hours honing his skills behind a firearm. He spent 15 years lobbying with the National Rifle Association helping to preserve the individual freedoms guaranteed to all Americans, and he is also a prepper.
AM: Define prepping for those who don’t know what it’s about.
DARREN: Prepping is the term used to describe preparation for serious disruption in society as we know it today. People who engage in it understand that the vast majority of America’s population lives in areas where supply chains are vulnerable and measured in a matter of hours or days, whether it be food, gasoline or water. Basic necessities in life are taken for granted by most – but not by preppers.
AM: What was your lightbulb moment – when you realized you needed to prepare for disaster?
DARREN: Prepping has always been a natural component of my life. I knew it long before the term was ever coined. I started carrying a rifle with me every day when I was seven years old (yes, this is real and it didn’t cause too many where I lived to do many double takes). I understood it was a tool that could provide me with food and protection, two of the few essential elements of human existence.
The first time I believe I could be considered a serious prepper was prior to the Y2K scare. For those who are unfamiliar, this was the time the calendar transitioned from 1999 to 2000. I knew many people who were serious players in the technology sector and most of them thought that the world as we knew it was going to come crashing down because our computer-driven society was not ready for it. I could see the fear in their eyes when the subject came up in conversation.
I bought a lot of ammunition, food and water treatment equipment. As the big day neared, I vacated the Phoenix metropolis and headed up to rural Northern Arizona with an equally prepared friend. Of course, the transition happened without a hitch and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But it was clear that I didn’t ever want to be the helpless person when things went wrong.
AM: What’s the typical incident or emergency you prep for?
DARREN: The most likely event that will seriously disrupt our society is a major power outage. These can be caused by overloaded electrical grids, manmade or natural EMPs or strikes against electrical generation or distribution systems. Virtually everything we depend on in our daily lives requires electricity in one way or another. The book One Second After makes this clear to all who read it.
AM: What keeps you going in the preparedness journey?
DARREN: What keeps me going is the fear of helplessness. I have a natural desire to have answers to problems and challenges. I never want to be in a position of begging for life’s essentials when things go bad. Many knowledgeable people, including officials in the U.S. military and government, believe it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” a truly significant disruption in our exceptionally comfortable modern existence occurs.
AM: Debunk some misconceptions people have about prepping.
DARREN: Of course, the biggest misconception of preppers is that they are crazy. In fact, they are simple realists who understand that Americans have never been more vulnerable to major disruption in supply chains. If a solar flare caused an EMP to hit America tomorrow, grocery store shelves would be empty within a day in virtually every city. People would be starving within a week and starving people do desperate things. Why not be prepared? Who is harmed by it? When the day comes, the “crazy” people will be seen as the brilliant people.
AM: What do you think about the “Extreme Preppers” TV show or any of the media’s depiction of prepping?
DARREN: As the title suggests, these are always the most extreme of the category. It is entertaining to see the lengths to which some have gone to be ready for that bad day. These are the people whose current existence is largely consumed by the idea of surviving tough times. They have lost touch with the balance between being ready and enjoying today and our comfortable lives.
The media that disparages preppers is the same media that would like to see a disarmed society because there is really no “need” to defend against a violent element within our society. The government is there to keep us safe. Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of violent crime victims every year in America who would disagree.
AM: How does the prepping community overlap with other groups like firearm enthusiasts or hunters?
DARREN: Serious firearms owners and hunters tend to favor rugged individualism. They don’t want to depend on a quick police response time to keep them and their family members safe. They want to know how to put food on their own tables without having to buy it from the local grocery store. They are anything but dependent and this would certainly describe all preppers.
AM: What should the average person have in their go-bag in case of emergency?
DARREN: I certainly do not consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but some essentials include:
Basic water filtration equipment
Small pot or cup capable of boiling water
Multiple fire-starting tools
Medical supplies/first aid kit
Headlamps with spare batteries
Tarp or other means of shelter
AM: What do you want people to know about prepping?
DARREN: Everyone is a prepper to one degree or another. When we put on our seatbelts before we leave the driveway, we are expending energy and preparing for the possibility of an accident and increasing our odds of survival. There are countless other examples in life. Preppers are simply preparing themselves and their families for possibilities of a more systemic nature.