Normalcy Bias

So, you never heard of Normalcy Bias. Don’t worry. Neither have I until I read an article which made a brief reference to it, for which I was intrigued and did some more research on it.

According to the dictionary, Normalcy Bias is a psychological state of denial people enter in the event of a disaster, as a result of which they underestimate the possibility of the disaster actually happening, and its effects on their life and property. Their denial is based on the assumption that if the disaster has not occurred until now, it will never occur.

A memorial is set up in front of the main sign of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

So, how does this fit in as a topic of discussion on firearms? Well, here is the danger which occurs due to Normalcy Bias in a disaster. And for the sake of argument, I am also including firearms related disasters as well, such as the massacre in Uvalde, Texas. The danger is that people with Normalcy Bias deny that a disaster can happen, is about to happen or is happening. So when the excrement impacts the rotary oscillator, they look for help from the people who have prepared for the disaster, in essence those without Normalcy Bias.

Normalcy Bias is a state of mind which develops before the disaster even starts, and it becomes exacerbated once the disaster event hits. Let’s examine the dangers of Normalcy Bias leading up to a disaster and why it’s such a huge threat once a disaster hits. Those with Normalcy Bias generally state three (3) regular excuses for not being prepared for a disaster. These three (3) excuses are:

  • “It’s Never Going To Happen Here”
  • “I Had No Idea This Was Going To Happen”
  • “Why Isn’t Someone Helping Us?”

“It’s Never Going To Happen Here”

National Guard troops rescue victims from a roof in New Orleans’ 9th Ward in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina

Disasters of all kinds, weather events, terrorist attacks, gun shootings, etc., can and do happen anytime, anywhere. No one is immune from disasters. While no one can predict when the next disaster will strike, there are certain locales and events for which disasters are recurring because they are seasonal. The South has hurricanes. The Midwest has Tornado Alley. The Northeast has Nor’easters. The West has mudslides and wildfires, as well as earthquakes (okay, not seasonal). Chicago has shootings, more so in the summer than in the winter. Certain disasters can be planned for.

Everyone who lives where these disasters occur should have some kind of plan. But most don’t. In the case of the Uvalde shooting, Texas has a program on the books to prevent school shootings. School districts just have to reach out to the state to enroll, but the Uvalde school district was not enrolled, because they never though that a school shooting could occur in their tiny town.

“I Had No Idea This Was Going To Happen”

Police investigating another night of shooting in Chicago. This particular shooting occurred inside the “Loop”

A poll was conducted and 41% of respondents admit to not being ready for a disaster. This should be the first red flag of the dangers of Normalcy Bias. These folks know that disasters are imminent, but are not prepared, because they don’t really believe it will happen. How many times do we hear of stories on the news of people trying to ride out hurricanes, only to find out that emergency services will not respond during the hurricane’s peak. Like those who rode out Hurricane Katrina. Really? They had no idea this was going to happen? The proverbial red flags were waving feverishly from the top of the flagpoles, so not for one second did they not expect a disaster was imminent. Their 9th Ward home was below sea level. They had the Mississippi, the largest, most powerful river in the U.S. to their south and west and massive Lake Pontchartrain, being held back with weakened and suspect levies, on the north. Did they really not think something dire could happen? They did not heed the warnings to get out of town and found themselves on the roofs of their houses waiting to be rescued by the Coast Guard. Or in Chicago, how many people of South Chicago continue to live in the gang war zone? Move for Christ’s sake! What’s more important, the possibility of your young child getting caught in a drive-by cross-fire while she plays with her dolls on the porch or some other excuse you come up with for desiring to stay there? Whether it’s riding out a hurricane or living in gangland South Chicago, these are the same folks who say “it’s not that bad”. These are the same folks who find themselves in the middle of the disaster and claim they had no idea something could happen.

Twenty-five people were shot, five of them fatally, during the last weekend in June, 2022, in Mayor Beetlejuice’s Chicago.

So now they sit around on the roof of their home or in the office of the funeral director and lament on what just happened and wonder who is going to help them. These are the same folks who failed to take action to improve their situation before the disaster struck, and certainly not going to use lessons learned after the disaster struck to improve their situation. The folks in Uvalde now blame the lack of response by the police. These are the same folks who could have insisted the Uvalde school board reach out to the state and enroll in the state’s anti-school shooting program. These folks, as well as those in New Orleans and Chicago are a special kind of stupid.

“Why Isn’t Someone Helping Us?”

Those suffering from Normalcy Bias are the ones who are unprepared. So when disaster strikes, these are the first ones to point the finger that no one helped them. Victims of Katrina blamed FEMA. Hell, they blamed everybody. South Chicagoans blame Mayor Beetlejuice. This in turn, puts first responders in jeopardy. We’ve all seen footage of the Coast Guard rescuing people from house roofs, or police being sent into gang territory. But it is not just first responders who are at risk with Normalcy Bias. You, yourself, are most at risk, believe it or not.

The inside of the shot up movie theater in Aurora Colorado

When disaster strikes, people fall into two categories; those who are prepared and those who aren’t. Those who are not prepared will be left without supplies, such as food, clothing, water…the essentials. And those who have not prepared will need those staples. Now, they may ask you pretty please with a cherry on top for you to give them supplies, and make you feel guilty that you have some moral obligation to help them if you don’t. And the generous person you are would like to help them. But your own family’s needs come first, because the lack of planning on their part is not your responsibility, and they are not going to care. So if you don’t give the unprepared what they want, they may turn to violence to get it. This becomes survival of the fittest.

The only way to truly deal with people suffering from Normalcy Bias is to be fittest. Be prepared for anything. This includes having supplies and protection handy. And by protection, I mean firearms and plenty of ammo.

Emergency personnel work near the scene of an explosion in downtown Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard early Christmas morning.

And at a personal level, it means concealed carry…every day. Because a disaster can happen close to home and with more immediacy too. Just ask the movie goers of the July 20, 2012 movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. I know everyone in that theater suffered from Normalcy Bias, because not one single movie goer drew a concealed carry weapon against the shooter. Not one movie goer was prepared that a man-made disaster could happen to them.

And now, we face the largest collection of Normalcy Biased individuals ever. On June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, putting the issue of abortion back in the hands of the states. So, at this very moment, pro-rights activists are extremely pissed and coalescing around this cause. In this case, those individuals with the Normalcy Bias are the ones who think the pro-rights activists will not harm them. Bullshit! I had the honor on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, to meet and speak with Dr. Val Finnell, the executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Gun Owners of America. He told the crowd, the pro-rights movement is very large and very motivated. As soon as they congeal, expect massive protests. No one has any idea if and when an ideological disaster is about to happen, a clash between pro-life and pro-rights. So we must be prepared.

Dr. Val Finnell, PA Director for GOA speaking against gun control to the PA Senate.

So carry everyday and begin the process in your own life of removing Normalcy Bias.