If you're not reading interdictor, you're missing the best on-the-ground coverage done online. He's former Special Forces, and right now he's using his training to keep his company running and the world informed. He's even managed to debrief a few folks who've seen other parts of the elephant. One of those folks infuriated me:
During the recon, I spoke to some Federal Marshalls and NOPD. Morale is LOW. Very low. They're not seeing the military presence they say they were promised. . . I asked if citizens can have guns for protection and he said if someone thinks he needs a gun, he should have already evacuated.
interdictor lets that pass without editorial comment. He is a much better man than I. My editorial comment to that marshal would be along the lines of, "Fuck you; strong letter to follow."
At this point, large numbers of the New Orleans Police have simply quit (scroll down; according to CNN's Jim Spellman, up to 60% of some districts' *are not showing up,* some because they've joined the looting. The honest ones who are left are outnumbered by any number of emergencies.
If you are in New Orleans, you had goddamn well better have a gun, because the multiple screw-ups of the city, state, and federal governments have made it clear that the only person who has the inclination and the ability to protect you is *you.* Did you get to the Superdome, like the Mayor told you? Congratulations; you stand a chance of getting beaten and raped by the guys who, when they're not finding smaller, weaker prey, will try to jump the few national guardsmen for their rifles. Did you make it to the Convention Center? Congratulations; you get all of the above, plus no food or water. For three days. Oh, and you have to stay there to wait for the buses, which are coming, really this time. What's that? You called your friend on your cell, and he has a working car, and he's on a road that isn't flooded, and he's coming by to pick you up? No, sorry, you're not allowed to leave.
Are you holed up in your house? Well, I hope to hell you and your buddy have a shotgun and a .357 Magnum, because people are going to come by looking to steal your generator.
Are you on a boat? Rescuing friends and family, or just trying to make it to higher ground? Watch out for fucking pirates.
Oh, and if you do get out? Hope you had a gun with you on your way out of town. Because if the undergunned cops see you, they're going to beg you to borrow it:
Police officers were asking residents to give up any guns they had before they boarded buses and trucks because police desperately needed the firepower: Some officers who had been stranded on the roof of a motel said they were being shot at overnight.
(Reminds me of the infamous North Hollywood bank shootout of a few years ago, in which two extremely heavily armed and armored men held off the undergunned police during a bank robbery, requiring the police to make emergency purchases at a local gun store. By the time the cops got back from the gun store, however -- I like to think it's because they had to fill out all the damn paperwork -- one robber had committed suicide and the other had been taken out by a (rifle-armed) SWAT unit. But I digress.)
At any rate, the marshal is full of shit.
My recommendation for civilian armament in a New Orleans-type situation would be a shotgun: good defensive weapon, more effective than a pistol, and shotguns loaded with slugs can be used to blow off padlocks and open doors, if you're trying to get out of Dodge and your way is blocked. They can also (rough) breaching tools, which can be useful if, like some folks in New Orleans, you've had to retreat to the attic against rising waters but will have to get out to the roof so you can be rescued, eventually. I wouldn't mind something fully automatic for a full riot situation, in which one is faced with a hostile crowd, but that requires a class III permit, so the people most likely to have them are bad guys.
I've been poor before, and I've weathered a couple of hurricanes. I've never gone to a public shelter. After seeing the response to Katrina, I'm never going to.