Booby Traps

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Every once in a while someone will ask me whether they should set up some booby traps to defend their home. While I can understand the desire to do such a thing, I always recommend against it. The prime reason is that booby traps are illegal; but there are also some serious risks involved in using them as well.

Before we go any father, let’s make sure we’re talking the same language. By definition, a booby trap is any concealed or camouflaged devices, which has been designed and built to cause bodily injury, when triggered by an action taken by an individual. That cover a lot of ground, including both active traps (like guns or bombs that go off, to more passive devices, such as a pit with punji stakes in it.

I guess the idea of booby traps has gained in popularity due to their use in the movies. War and action movies generally seem to have a few booby traps thrown in, often real devices, like claymore mines, which have been used by the military since the Vietnam War.

But there’s a huge difference between a war and anything you or I might encounter, even in the case of a breakdown of society. While we may have to resort to extreme measures to defend home and family in such a case, we have to realize that we won’t actually be in a war zone, even if it might feel like we are.

To most soldiers, there are only two types of people in a war zone; your guys and the enemy. But there is usually a third category of people that need to be taken into consideration – civilians; we call them innocent bystanders. Pretty much any trap runs the risk of hurting innocent bystanders, some of which could be children.

The problem with any booby trap is that they don’t discriminate between the bad guys and the innocents. So there’s always the risk of a pit lined with punji stakes or a tripwire that will set off a shotgun shell or even killing a child. If that were t happen, the person who put that booby trap in place would go to jail, self-defense laws notwithstanding.

This is not to say that I don’t or never would use any sort of booby trap. In a sense, I already have one booby trap set up at my home. I have a four foot high, 30 inch thick hedge around my front yard. The plant I have chosen to use has thorns. So, I suppose that if someone tried to get through my hedge, rather than going through the gate, they would get hurt (scratched up) by my hedge. Technically, that makes it qualify as a booby trap. The right lawyer might even be able to make that charge stick.

I also have a fair collection of caltrops that I’ve made. If you’re not familiar with caltrops, check out the picture below. This is one that I’ve made out of two 20 penny nails. I cut the heads off of them, sharpened the cut end, bent them and then welded them together.

The caltrop is actually a medieval defensive weapon, intended for use in stopping a cavalry charge. They can be throw from a defensive position and will always land with one point sticking up. If a horse or man steps on that point, it will cause pain and at least temporarily cripple them.

My collection of caltrops is part of my home defense for a true TEOTWAWKI event. My backyard is surrounded by a six foot tall cement block fence. Should anyone come over that fence at such a time, I think it would be safe to say that they would be doing so in order to do my family harm. That makes them an enemy. So, my intent is to use those caltrops as part of my defenses, sewing a band of them inside my fence.

Please note that this is still illegal. But I’m talking about a time when there is a breakdown of law and order anyway. I’m also talking about using these caltrops in a way that someone can’t accidentally be hurt by them. It would have to be someone that has entered my property illegally and in a manner that indicates a willingness to do us harm. With that in mind, I’m willing to take a risk on using this sort of trap.

But that’s about as far as I would go, even in such a time. While more extensive booby traps might actually be useful in defending my family, they might inadvertently end up hurting a family member, a hungry neighbor or even one of the children in the neighborhood. That’s a risk that’s too big to take. I’ll trust in my other passive defenses and my ability to defend my property with my guns.

With that in mind, I’ll be sure to keep my powder dry and my survival gear close at hand. I trust that you will too.

Chris and Dr. Rich

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