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What Happens During a State of Emergency?

What happens during a state of emergency especially with all the recent events that have spun out of control in 2022 and again this year, we have heard the phrase “state of emergency” several times on local and national levels.  We obviously know that this means things are bad, but what else does it indicate?  

When things get messy, we hope that the government will use the power that they have to make things right. Unfortunately, that sometimes means giving the government powers that they would not ordinarily have.  This can be a dangerous scenario if handled the wrong way.  In this article, we will cover states of emergency and how they may affect you in the future.

What is a State of Emergency?

A state of emergency is any scenario in which the government is given additional authority to take actions they would not normally have permission to take.  This alone is a scary statement. If taken to extremes, it can mean the nullification of civil rights and freedoms granted by our constitution.  In some ways, a state of emergency undoes all of the work our forefathers did to protect our rights.

One point we should clarify is that a state of emergency does not necessarily dictate martial law.  Martial law is declared when US troops like the National Guard must be deployed to handle an issue on domestic soil.  This happened several times in 2020.  Declaring a state of emergency can allow any government official at or above the position of mayor list their situation as a disaster and request additional aid from the government. This is a good thing, right?

While typically these declarations are just going to bring in resources, they also give the government the option of banning businesses, enforcing curfews, or restricting the sale of vital resources like food or drinking water.  It gives the government the option of entirely changing the way we function as a society.

The most threatening ways a state of emergency will be used are to bring in the National Guard, suspend habeas corpus, bar trade, freeze funds, and seize property from citizens. A state of emergency can potential last for years, so you must take it seriously.  While it may amount to nothing, you must think about how it could go wrong.   

Specific Powers Granted

Please understand that not all states of emergency are a big deal.  These can be issued on the local level by mayors for natural disasters.  It just gives them the opportunity to get more resources sent to their area to keep people healthy and alive.  This is all good stuff.

The main purpose of declaring a state of emergency is to streamline resources.  This could be in reaction to a natural disaster, a threat on the US, or an invasion.  This provision allows the function of the government up to the point of declaring war without congressional approval if a delay would hurt the safety of the country. 

One of the biggest concerns of these rights is the ability to suspend habeas corpus.  This means people could be locked up without a trial of their peers.  Of course, this brings up all kinds of concerns.

When a State of Emergency Has Been Used

In order to understand when this scenario might happen, you must look back at times when the US government has implemented a state of emergency.  This could be a short, isolated incident or it could go on for years.  In 2001, the US declared a state of emergency after the 9-11 attacks.  This particular state of emergency is still in effect today.  It allows the military to grow without regulation and allows the Department of Defense to keep military personnel in the service indefinitely. 

These states of emergency often go largely unnoticed and can run concurrently with each other.  As of three years ago there were over 30 states of emergency still in effect in different parts of the country and for different reasons.  Some of these include blocking Iranian government property, preventing the assembly of weapons of mass destruction, stopping the assets of drug traffickers, and blocking the assets of terrorists.

Let’s look at examples in other countries.  In 2015 the bombings in Paris required a state of emergency.  For three months protests were outlawed, and cops were allowed to complete searches without warrants.  They were allowed to put anyone under house arrest without reason and block websites related to terrorism.

In Belgium, these actions resulted in a suspect being hunted down on a Level 4 Alert which had never been invoked before.  There were weeks of searches, raids, and shootouts. All businesses and public services were shut down.  It was much like what happened when the pandemic hit last year. Further attacks caused the government to shut down all public transportation.  All of these actions helped the government apprehend the terrorists, but at what cost?

The Other Side

These actions are all great when you just look at their ability to protect the public.  However, you must also consider the freedoms that are sacrifices and what that could mean.  Most people will only ever see the good side of a state of emergency as it allows the government to help.  

However, those of us who plan for the worst and hope for the best know that it is just a matter of time before someone abuses this power. The state of emergency is often referenced as the tool needed to restore order.  However, the process of restoring order means someone is not being treated according to their rights.

Here are the mandates that are common in a state of emergency:

A freeze on trade in or out of affected areas.

Required evacuation of residents by force if needed.

Implementation of curfews enforced by the military.

Government forces confiscating assets from citizens to help in emergency management.

Market fixing of prices to avoid ‘price gouging’.

Required drafting of citizens to help with emergency efforts.

In almost every case, the government is immune from prosecution related to any of these actions. The fact of the matter is that our government is not perfect.  There are people in power that will make mistakes.  In this case, those mistakes could cause us to lose our civil liberties.

How to Handle It

Okay, so it’s not smart to just ignore states of emergency or assume they are a bad thing.  When you are in an area affected by a natural disaster, just do what you are told and get out of the area. If the situation continues, you might need to make some tough decisions. Be prepared that fighting back may end up with you arrested, beaten, or shot depending on how bad things get.

Your best option is to avoid authorities at all costs.   If you do not present yourself as a threat, they will likely go after other people.  While it is highly unlikely that the government would overreach and take advantage of this newly granted power, we should still discuss this scenario.

If this were to happen, your goal is to bug out as far away from population centers as is possible.  If the government were to start rounding up citizens, they would start with population centers.  My family and I have discussed this several times in the last two years.  You simply cannot go up against the government.  If their intention is to detain citizens, you must avoid these officers.  I suggest getting out into the wilderness or staying with rural friends or relatives. You are probably fine at camp sites and hotels in the country.  Just be sure you don’t see any uniforms.

In the end, this is a very controversial subject.  The ability of the government to invoke a state of emergency both gives them the potential to help millions of people and gives them the option of destroying millions of live.  I would love to say that I trust our government completely, but I think most people would have a hard time making that statement.  

If you want to manage states of emergency properly, you must pay attention to the details.  Listen to credible news.  Look at what is happening in your hometown.  You must make the decision for yourself.  Is a state of emergency good or bad?  Once you make that decision, it is on you to take action and protect your family.  Just take a deep breath and decide what makes the most sense.  Do not let panic control your mind.  If you are mindful with your decision, you will likely come out healthy and happy with your family.

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