The Rise of the "Preppers": How Some Coloradans Are Preparing for Disaster—or Apocalypse

April 2011

In his 30 years as a Class III weapons dealer in the Colorado Springs area, Mel "Dragon Man" Bernstein has never sold as many assault rifles as he is today. One of his customers returns weekly to buy up 1,000-2,000 rounds of bullets, and gas masks and sand bags are also hot items. The purchasing trends are attributed to a new brand of survivalists known as "preppers," distrustful of government and readying to fend for themselves in case of global disaster (Gazette). Some believe in prophecies—think Nostradamus, Mayan calendar, Christian rapture—and are building sand bunkers and geodesic domes in places like Yoder and Park County, where they can grow vegetables and stockpile arms.

In the case of a serious emergency, Ron Douglas is ready. But he isn't paranoid about an apocalypse. The founder of the National Self Reliance Organization is exclusively concerned with natural disasters—floods, blizzards, wildfires, and the like—and is holding an expo in Denver this weekend to share preparedness tips as well as information on sustainable living and entrepreneurship (Longmont Times-Call).