This is not a hypothetical question, at least in my neighborhood. And no, I don't live in the woods, or on some out-of-the-way country backroad.
I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C. And someone who lives around the corner from me is actually learning how to shoot a gun so he can "protect" his family in case someone else decides to steal the vegetables he is planting in his backyard.
A long-time environmental activist, the guy has concluded that society is moving too slowly to stop climate change. As a result, he says, we all may be facing widespread food shortages and general chaos. If he were part of the Godfather's era, my neighbor might say, "it's time to go to the mattresses." His response today isn't far off. He's replaced the bolts on his doors with padlocks, is planting his own food, and is learning how to fire a weapon. Armed, and dangerous?
The neighborhood is now very jumpy. People don't want to walk down the street where this guy lives. Will we be taking our lives in our hands if we stop to admire his heirloom tomatoes? In the back of our minds, some of us are wondering, "Should WE buy a gun?"
That's the conversation we're having around here. What a waste. Do we really want people asking, "What kind of GUN should we buy?"
I, for one, don't think so. I think we want people asking, "What else can I do to use less energy? How can I pressure my elected officials to pass laws mandating energy conservation and the use of safe energy sources like solar and wind? How can we stop burning coal and oil altogether? What can we do on a global scale to reduce everyone's dependence on fossil fuels?" These are the questions we want people to ask, and then act on: rapidly, deliberately, peacefully.
As I wrote in The Washington Post, "This is no time for hysteria. Real progress to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is being made on many fronts. Are we moving far enough fast enough? No. But I guarantee, if we all follow [my neighbor's] lead and create our own little neighborhood militias so we can protect our lettuce, climate change will be the least of our worries."