Joe Biden’s gun tax proposals could cost gun owners upwards of $34 billion for guns and magazines they already possess.
Biden’s proposals include a $200 tax for each AR-15 that is already owned. That tax would also apply to other firearms Democrats label “assault weapons.”
Biden also wants to tax gun owners $200 for every “high capacity” magazine they own.
On November 17, 2020, Breitbart News reported National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) numbers showing that Americans own an estimated 434 million firearms. Nearly 20 million of those firearms are Modern Sporting Rifles, firearms that the Democrats categorizes as “assault weapons.”
Under Biden’s plan, the tax for the nearly 20 million Modern Sporting Rifles alone could be $4 billion.
The NSSF numbers also show that Americans own more than 71 million pistol magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds and “79.2 million rifle magazines capable of holding 30 or more rounds.”
Taking that as a rounded figure of 150 million magazines, the tax on those could be $30 billion.
Add the $4 billion in rifle taxes and the $30 billion in magazine taxes, and American gun owners could owe $34 billion.
The Sexual Assault Special Section and Robbery Homicide Division will be disbanded under the LAPD in Los Angeles, according to a memo that went out to the LAPD department personnel about the “unexpected Department budgetary crisis and shortfall.”
Dominic Choi, deputy chief of staff to Chief Moore, sent the memo. It said that the Chief of Police is “making significant and difficult changes to adapt to the current financial and personnel shortages.”
Additional Specialized Details will also be disbanded.
The Safer Cities Initiative, which primarily deals with homeless encampments in LA’s “Skid Row” area and the Homeless Outreach and Proactive Engagement unit, will also be cut.
The Burglary Special Section and Cargo Auto Theft Detail Commercial Crimes Division will also be cut.
The Animal Cruelty Task Force, Detective Support, and Vice Division will no longer be funded by the LAPD.
Pacific Area Beach Detail, Parks Tasks Forces, Robbery Homicide, Commercial Crimes, Metropolitan Division, Traffic Group, and Labor Relations Unit will all be downsized.
A San Diego, California judge has ruled that the state cannot take any action to prevent strip clubs from “being allowed to provide live adult entertainment,” and must allow them to reopen. The owners had argued their First Amendment rights were being violated and the judge agreed.
Meanwhile, places of worship are making the exact same argument about their First Amendment rights and remain closed.
Religious-liberty advocates said that the case could pave the way for lifting coronavirus restrictions against churches. Paul Jonna, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, which is representing churches challenging the restrictions, expressed confidence that this decision bodes well for the churches. If strip clubs are entitled to constitutional protections, then churches are as well, he told the Free Beacon.
“If you’re going to accept that argument that dancing nude is protected speech that’s so significant that it overcomes the government’s interest in regulating its citizens with COVID-19 orders, then obviously the divine worship of God, which is expressly mentioned in the First Amendment, should be held to a higher standard,” Jonna said.
In San Deigo, the latest round of lockdowns will allow barbers and beauty salons to stay open, but limit bars, restaurants, and gyms to outdoor business only.
Churches in California have been locked in legal struggles with state authorities for months as churches of different denominations take legal action to try to end the indefinite limitations on indoor services. Jonna said that the San Diego decision highlights “the absurdity” and double standards that have defined the state’s approach to lockdowns.
“A judge who understands the Constitution will recognize the absurdity of the current state of the law,” he said. “I think it’s a good sign that judges are starting to question whether the government has a legitimate interest in regulating any business or industry at this point.”
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has been an outspoken supporter of DREAMers enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But it appears that she lacks the same level of sympathy for the parents of Americans killed by immigrants who illegally enter the country.
Breitbart News reported that two Angel Parents — people who have lost children to illegal immigrants — attempted to visit Harris’ office on January 15, 2019, but were rejected by members of her staff. Sabine Durden and Don Rosenberg told the news outlet that the senator ignored them when they stopped by her office during a visit to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office.
Durden’s son, 30-year-old Dominic, was killed by an illegal alien in 2012 in California. Rosenberg’s son, 25-year-old Drew, was killed by an illegal alien in 2010 in California.
When the two angel parents walked by Harris’ Senate office, they saw a sign that read, “DREAMers are welcome here” in Spanish. Durden took a picture of the sign while placing her son’s photo next to it.
The two parents said that one of Harris’ staffers greeted them when they walked into the office, holding pictures of their sons. “I said ‘they used to have big dreams until they were killed by illegal aliens,’” Durden recalled.
Rosenberg said to the staffer, “I see DREAMers are welcome here; what about nightmares?” referring to his son’s murder. “I said, ‘we’re living a nightmare because our kids were both killed by illegal aliens.’” He recalled that the staffer froze after hearing this statement. Durden told the person that they were Harris’ constituents.
At that point, the two were asked to leave the office.
Rosenberg said that he was surprised by the reaction. He said he expected sympathy after telling the staffer the stories of their sons. Durden stated that the staffer did not want them in the office after hearing that they were parents of men killed by illegals.
“We would give two minutes of our time for her to see the pain, but we don’t even get that respect. It’s painful to see,” Durden said. Rosenberg told Breitbart News that he has tried to meet with Harris for years but has not been successful.
‘Too busy’ for own constituents
The last time Rosenberg tried to meet with the senator, he was informed that she was too busy.
But during that same time period, Harris participated in an unplanned press conference to condemn President Trump for rescinding the DACA program in September 2017. “She can be at a press conference for DACA recipients, but she can’t meet with a constituent,” he complained.
Breitbart points out that at his conference, Harris took senior Trump administration officials to task for never meeting with any of the individuals enrolled in the DACA program. “When I asked, they confessed they’d never met a DREAMer,” Harris said. “How can you form such strong opinions about people you’ve never met, people you don’t know, and then allow this population of people to be vilified. It’s not only wrong, it’s irresponsible.”
While bashing Trump officials for not meeting with DACA recipients, Harris actively refuses to meet with the parents of Americans who are victimized by illegal immigrants. These perpetrators are able to commit these crimes due to policies that Harris supports.
“Kamala really cares for people, just not American children,” Durden said. “It’s so painful to my heart when I see them fake all this compassion that they don’t have for us. To feign this compassion for people when they don’t have it for their own constituents and American citizens who lost their lives so brutally.”
Harris, who is also Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, proposed that the U.S. should grant amnesty for the 11 to 22 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S.
She also favors implementing a national sanctuary city policy, reinstating the failed Catch and Release approach, and increasing refugee resettlement by almost 700 percent.
It is no secret that Democrats like Kamala Harris care more for illegal immigrants than American citizens. While the majority of these individuals are not violent criminals, the fact remains that there would be fewer angel parents if the U.S. enforced its immigration laws and secured the border.
Unfortunately, the open borders crowd has its own agenda, and it has nothing to do with protecting Americans. The true reason why progressives support open borders policies is that they seek more power. Importing more people from third-world countries will displace American workers, but it would also give them a steady stream of millions of new voters in their favor.
It is electoral power that the Democrats want, not the safeguarding of American lives and jobs. If people like Harris have their way, illegal immigration will rise sharply, no matter the cost.
An Orthodox Jewish reporter said he was attacked by an angry mob at a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Borough Park, Brooklyn on Wednesday.
The reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, said protesters yelled that he was a “Nazi” and “Hitler” as they chased after him during a second night of unrest over government attempts to stop the surging cases of COVID-19 across Brooklyn.
Kornbluh blamed the attack on Heshy Tischler, an agitator and aspiring politician who has organized the largely Orthodox protests over the last two nights.
“I was just brutally assaulted, hit in the head, and kicked at by an angry crowd of hundreds of community members of the Boro Park protest — while yelling at me “Nazi” and “Hitler” —after Heshy Tischler recognized me and ordered the crowd to chase me down the street,” Kornbluh tweeted.
Tischler, who is running for City Council, was filmed pinning Kornbluh against a wall as he shouted, “You are a moser!” meaning snitch.
Kornbluh said he was saved by police and several community members.
The night before, Tichler was filmed referring to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray as “retard woman.”
On the same night, a group of protesters in the area chased down and assaulted freelance photographer Bruce Schaff, who is Jewish, as he tried to capture the scene. A second man, Berish Getz, 34, a Borough Park resident, was also beaten during that protest.
“Out of all the protests I’ve been to I’ve never seen this level of violence from protesters toward members of the press, photographers, or anyone for that matter,” Schaff told The Post after the Tuesday night attack.
The anger stems from Governor Andrew Cuomo-mandated restrictions imposed on area synagogues, schools, and non-essential businesses due to a coronavirus spike sweeping through a large chunk of Brooklyn and patches of Queens around Forest Hills and Far Rockaway.
It was about about nine years ago when consulting company BCG first suggested that in a time of out of control spending and soaring debt loads, the only fiscally sustainable “solution” was to implement a wealth tax (see “There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis“).
While the idea was well ahead of its time in 2011, and was quickly shut down in the court of public opinion, several years later none other than the IMF resurrected the idea of a wealth tax, which has only gained momentum in recent months, and despite widespread grassroots pushback, the concept of a “wealth tax” has moved front and center and most recently the chairman of Capital Economics, Roger Bootle, said that the world’s wealthiest could be subjected to higher tax rates as governments scramble to fund spending and repair their economies amid the coronavirus crisis.
Fast forward to today when the ultra-liberal state of California is now ready to take this “socialist” idea from concept to the implementation phase, with the SF Chronicle reporting that a group of CA state lawmakers on Thursday proposed a first-in-the-nation state wealth tax that would hit about 30,400 California residents and raise an estimated $7.5 billion for the general fund.
The proposed tax rate would be 0.4% of net worth (most likely ended up far higher), excluding directly held real estate, that exceeds $30 million for single and joint filers and $15 million for married filing separately.
Oakland Democrat Rob Bonta, who is the lead author of the wealth tax proposal AB2008, justified the wealth expropriation by saying that California is facing a big budget deficit because of the health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus, and “we can’t simply rely on austerity measures,” to close it. It wasn’t immediately clear why austerity doesn’t work considering that California has never actually tried it, but in any case the Democrat’s proposal was clear: “We must consider revenue generation.”
And in doing that, California will trigger an exodus of billionaires who will be the first to realize which way the wind is blowing, and end up hurting the state far more than helping it as hundreds of ultra wealthy taxpayers leave for places like Florida or – for that matter – any other place in the world.
Bonta said that the union-sponsored bill will not be heard before the Legislature adjourns Aug. 31, but “it can be reintroduced on day one of the next session.”
Now what most normal Americans (i.e. those not living in California) may not know, is that this would be the second wealth tax set to pass in California. Bonta said he would like to see a wealth tax passed in addition to the “millionaires tax” proposed in a bill introduced in late July. AB1253 would add surcharges of 1% to incomes (joint or single) between roughly $1 million and $2 million, 3% on income between $2 million and $5 million, and 3.5% on income greater than $5 million, bringing the top rate to 16.8%.
California’s top rate today, at 13.3%, is already the highest in the nation, and it’s only going higher.
The millionaires (and soon to be hundred thousandaires, then ten-thousandaires and so on) subject to the wealth tax would report it to the Franchise Tax Board along with their income taxes. They would have to report all assets including stock in publicly and privately traded corporations; interests in partnerships, private equity or hedge funds; cash, bonds and savings accounts; mutual funds, futures and options; art and collectibles; offshore financial assets, pension funds, non-mortgage debt, real property and mortgage debt. Which of course is idiotic because some of that wealth is extremely illiquid and evaluating it will not only take material time and effort, but also result in drastic costs. Furthermore, just how will the government confirm that whatever wealth is reported represents reality. But such is life in a half-baked socialist utopia where every idea is for lack of a better word, idiotic.
There was some good news: “Directly held real property, and mortgages and other liabilities secured by directly held real property,” must be reported, but would not be considered in calculating the taxpayer’s worldwide net worth, the bill said. How wonderful… oh wait, someone realized that this would simply be double taxing the same assets: “Real estate would be exempt from the wealth tax because it’s already subject to property tax, at a higher rate”, Bonta said.
Among those handful of rational voices who call out this sheer idiocy for what it is was Jared Walczak, a vice president with the Tax Foundation, a think tank, who said that “it is far easier to call for a state-level wealth tax than it is to actually design an enforceable one.” Maybe that’s why no state has imposed one.
However now that California is on the verge of passing a wealth tax, every other insolvent state will follow suit, staring with New York.
“Some New York legislators are floating the idea, but Governor Cuomo has poured cold water on the notion, rightly concerned that it would lead to an exodus of high net worth individuals from the state,” Walczak said via email. Somehow California believes it is exempt from such an exodus. Spoiler alert: it isn’t, and the state’s wealthiest residents won’t think twice to up root and move their tax residence to a state which treats their wealth with respect.
There is of course the possibility that this idiotic idea will somehow die before it is enacted. Walczak said that implementing a wealth tax at the state level “would be extremely complex, with questions of how to value illiquid assets and whether residents’ out-of-state wealth — including their investment holdings — can be taxed.” He added that “any tax that is actually effective at taxing wealth, however, would be equally effective at driving wealth out of state.”
Emmanuel Saez, a UC Berkeley economics professor, i.e., a socialist, said income tax is not an effective way to tax the ultra-wealthy, because they can avoid the income tax as long as they don’t cash in their investments. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could avoid the income tax as long as he doesn’t sell his Facebook stock, and if he moved to Florida before realizing his gains, he may never owe tax to California, Saez said during a call announcing the bill.
Saez, like any other socialist who has a terminal inability of grasping who the world really works and that every idiotic action by the state will have an appropriate reaction by the population, said the bill would not deter startups because it would let entrepreneurs defer the wealth tax for a period of time. Brilliant.
“Liquidity-constrained taxpayers with ownership interests in hard-to-value assets and business entities, such as startup businesses, shall be able to elect for an unliquidated and deferred tax liability to be attached to these assets instead of the net value of these assets being assessed at the end of a tax year.” The taxpayer would have to sign a contract with the state specifying when the tax would be paid.
Well, Emmanuel, instead of signing a “contract” with the state when the tax will be paid, all those entrepreneurs that keep the state afloat will simply… leave. And guess what happens to the already dismal tax collections then.
None of this matters to the Berkeley socialist, and instead he pointed to a paper he co-authored, saying that California has 12% of the U.S. population but 17% of all U.S. millionaires and 25% of its billionaires. In 2011, California had only 15.5% of the nation’s millionaires and 21% of billionaires. The wealth tax, he said, would hit about 0.15% of California tax filers.
We can’t wait for the paper’s second edition published in 2025 when the “professor” finds that California has none of the US’ billionaires.
Until then, the rare voices of reason such as that of Robert Gutierres, president of the California Taxpayers Association, will become increasingly rare:
“The state approved $9.2 billion in business tax increases in the new budget, but Sacramento politicians and special interests continue to seek income tax increases, property tax increases, a ‘headcount tax’ on in-state employees, and this new annual tax on money that was left over after all the other taxes were paid,” Gutierrez said, adding that “a very small number of Californians pay the vast majority of state income taxes. When the constant drumbeat for outrageous tax hikes drives them away, who will pick up the tab?”
Why, the Fed of course.
Here’s the good news for opponents of lockdowns and mask mandates: They don’t work. However, that is also the bad news. Because they don’t work, politicians who have seized power by executive fiat for months on end can continue promulgating even more life-altering rules, precisely because the original ones never worked!
Americans are now facing this predicament: The more the effectiveness of these executive policies is disproven, the more the politicians use that lack of results as a pretext for even more rules. Thus, if stay-at-home orders failed to work as promised, they demand mask-wearing. If mask-wearing was in place for months and still didn’t work, which has been the case in most hot spots, then they mandate mask-wearing in personal homes in Broward County, Florida, and for two-year-olds in Baltimore County, Maryland. Because you know, the only possible explanation for continued spread of a virus that is not deadly for most people is that two-year-olds weren’t wearing masks. Never mind studies from nearly every major European country showing kids, particularly young kids, do not contribute to community spread, even if masks did work.
Speaking of European countries, it’s time to dispel one of the more popular myths propagated by our new dictators. We are constantly being lectured to by the “experts” that America didn’t have enough of a lockdown and that is the reason why we are still seeing a spread of the virus while Europe seems to be done with it. A new eye-opening analysis from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) shows that America had just as severe a lockdown as most European countries and in fact had a longer-lasting lockdown than every country except for England.
The accusation that America didn’t lock down enough is based on three premises – that we locked down later than Europe, didn’t lock down as hard, and reopened earlier. As Phillip Magness of AIER proves using the University of Oxford’s stringency index of lockdowns, all three are untrue.
Using a scale of 1-100, Oxford researchers gave one point to each country for a list of 17 policies that they implemented during the epidemic and tracked that aggregate score over time.
As you can see, after achieving a 72.69 score on March 21, we have essentially plateaued for months. The reality is that most of America, including many states with surges in cases, have been locked down the entire time and remain essentially locked down.
As Magness observes, the U.S. was well within the median of Europe’s score:
At its peak, the US stringency index reached comparable levels with Great Britain (75.93), Belgium (81.48), the Netherlands (79.63), Germany (73.15), Norway (79.63), Denmark (72.22) and Switzerland (73.15). Among comparable developed nations, only Italy, France, and Ireland topped the 90 point mark on the index.
What about the start time? Was America late to the party relative to the European countries?
Of these countries, almost all imposed their most stringent policies at exactly the same time – the week surrounding the March 16th release of the Imperial College report, which also corresponded with the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration on March 11th. Only Italy – an early hotspot – preceded this wave of lockdowns, having imposed them in late February.
Thus, America started when everyone else did – except for Italy – and achieved essentially the same lockdown score within a week.
But here’s the real kicker: the myth of the great American reopening. Not only did the reopening in most places in the U.S. not begin before most European countries, but the reopening in Europe has been much more encompassing to this very day.
As of July 4th and even with slow reopenings underway in most states, the stringency index shows that the United States (68.89) as a whole still remained under heavier restrictions than any country in Western Europe except for the comparably-shuttered United Kingdom (69.91).
Hence, after causing so much collateral damage, lockdowns don’t even work to stop the spread! America is locked down and has been the entire time.
Take Switzerland, for example. It opened up much earlier than the U.S. and is now at a 36.57 index, almost half that of the U.S.
Then, of course, there is Sweden, which never achieved more than a 46 index.
The results? Sweden is essentially done with the virus.
In America, the virus continues to spread, despite a much more severe lockdown than Sweden and a much longer one than nearly every European country.
Even the few states that opened up in late April or early May are clearly not responsible for the spread, because the virus did not spread during the key weeks following the reopening. The timing of the spread in southern states is much more in line with the rioting and protests, which would explain why we had a resurgence that Europe, thus far, has not seen on a large scale.
Also, let’s not forget that most states that reopened still had very strict rules in the urban areas that have seen most of the new cases, such as Miami-Dade County. Both Miami and Los Angeles have seen a surge in cases following long-standing mask requirements:
On the other hand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, and France never had compulsory mask rules, and yet they appear to be done with the epidemic, at least for now. Whereas countries in Asia with near universal mask-wearing, such as Hong Kong and the Philippines, are seeing new waves of the virus.
Governments around the world are testing citizens for coronavirus antibodies, to work out whether people have had the deadly Covid-19 disease.
Some countries are setting up so-called “immunity passports” and others may follow suit.
The idea is that a passport would certify that you have had coronavirus and will not carry or contract the disease again, opening up a way out of lockdown restrictions for the holder.
But is this theory correct? And will it create a group of antibody-carrying elite who can date, travel and work as they wish, while others are still limited by health precautions?
This article features interviews broadcast on Business Daily, on the BBC World Service:
They are photographing positive test results to use as a kind of improvised “Covid-immunity passport”.
If you have antibodies, the theory goes, you will not get the disease again.
Dating aside, what if we could decide who is safe to return to work or get on an aircraft? For those people. the Covid-19 lockdown could be over.
The idea behind immunity passports, is that of a certificate confirming that you have had Covid-19. It could be used to enter places that those people without one are barred from.
To get one, you’d have to test positive for antibodies created after exposure to the virus.
Amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County, the mayor of Miami Beach announced Monday the city would begin issuing fines to those who ignore rules requiring the use of facial coverings indoors and outside if social distance cannot be observed.
The city’s new crackdown does not go as far as its neighbors across the bay in the city of Miami, which requires the use of masks at all times in public except for when exercising, eating or working outdoors or by very young or medically vulnerable groups.
You can still walk your dog along the street, for example, but you’ll need your mask on if you chat with a neighbor along the way.
Violating Miami Beach’s rule may earn you a verbal warning, and subsequent violations will lead to a $50 fine. That’s less than the announced fines in Miami, which start at $50 but can increase to $500 for a third offense.
The order remains in effect through Wednesday unless the City Commission votes to extend the manager’s emergency powers beyond July 1.
Mayor Dan Gelber said noncompliance with current mask rules, coupled with a troubling increase in the spread of the coronavirus, made further restrictions necessary.
“We don’t have too many tools left in our tool kit, and we don’t want to be forced to return to a shelter-in-place order that proved so economically devastating,” he said in a statement.
The city’s COVID-19 advisory panel, comprised of health experts in Florida and beyond, agreed that pushing for more mask use was one way the city could contain the spread of the virus outside of another lockdown.
Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious diseases expert at Florida International University, said imposing fines would “get a lot of people’s attention” and make enforcement easier.
“Considering the current state of the pandemic in our community, our population, and enforcement issues, I favor requiring the proper use of facial coverings outdoors and indoors in all public places at all times, with the usual, reasonable exemptions,” Marty wrote in an email to City Manager Jimmy Morales on Saturday
Dr. Kenneth Ratzan, the chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Medical Center, said in another email that “if the current surge isn’t halted we can expect our hospitals to be stressed, and deaths will increase.”
“I’m a firm believer that masks, social distancing and hand hygiene are the keys in preventing spread of infection, especially since asymptomatic persons play such an important role in the spread of infection,” he said. “I believe easing of restrictions would have worked if these practices had been universally followed.”
The first tenant for one of Frank Woodworth’s underground bunkers wasn’t a human, it was a seed. “A couple of hippies called me up and asked me to build them a vault for their heirloom seeds,” he said.
A reserved man with Downeast stoicism, Mr. Woodworth is the owner of Northeast Bunkers, a company in Pittsfield, Maine, that specializes in the design and construction of underground bunkers. It was 18 years ago that Mr. Woodworth outfitted that first steel vault while working as a general contractor, and he has since changed direction, pivoting his business model to focus solely on designing, installing and updating underground shelters.
He stresses that these are not “luxury bunkers” for the top 1 percent, and only a small part of the calls are coming from Doomsday preppers or Cold War-era holdovers. Rather, about two-thirds of his business comes from consumers who pay approximately $25,000 for an underground livable dwelling. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Woodworth said he has been unable to keep up with the demand.
Buyers of these kinds of underground dwellings say that they simply want to protect their families from an increasingly turbulent world. For many, the decision to build a bunker was made before the coronavirus pandemic surfaced, but they say that they now feel prepared for the next local or global crisis.
Aaron, who spoke on the condition that his full name not be used to protect his privacy, said he bought a bunker three years ago to keep his family in the Washington D.C. area safe in a variety of situations. “If something happens, I can put the family in there, or if I’m gone, my wife can lock the family in there,” he said. “Not just the coronavirus, or civil unrest. Even in environmental things” — like earthquakes and tornadoes — “my family is protected.”
Aaron, who has three teenagers and is in his mid-40s, said he is currently using his 1,100-square-foot bunker as an office. “Parts of the bunker are off-limits to all my children, like any of the security rooms, the weapons room, the food and storage room, the pantry,” he said.
Other amenities include a food and storage room, as well as an aboveground “safe room” which is used “if you need to quickly get away from something immediately. Basically, a panic room.”
He bought his bunker from a company called Hardened Structures based in Virginia Beach, Va., one of the many bunker builders across the country.
Some buyers go through a bunker broker to find a shelter that fits their needs. Jonathan Rawles is the owner and manager of Survival Realty Brokerage Services, a national company based in Idaho that works with agents and brokers specializing in remote, off-grid bunker-type property.
“There is continual demand for people that are looking to find more of a sustainable future for themselves, for their families,” Mr. Rawles said. “A lot of real estate markets only focus on housing in the urban areas, suburban areas, exurbs, and there is very much a missed opportunity for people who are looking to live off-grid, wanting to live remote, or actually looking to secure a property, whether that’s a bunker or a more secure and sustainable home.”
Mr. Rawles pairs his clients with bunker-building companies in the U.S. and says his company has a wide range of clients. “This market and desire for security cuts across all levels of society — social, political, racial, religious,” he said. “People are looking for the opportunity to secure the family’s future, to have a more sustainable future, and part of that may be having a bunker.”
Mr. Woodworth at Northeast Bunkers, said that recent inquiries have come from across the United States, and worldwide. The furthest installation he’s ever done? The Caribbean. “That one went by truck then by barge then by truck.”
The basic model at Northeast Bunkers is a cylindrical steel vessel eight feet in diameter, in 13- or 20-foot lengths, welded from quarter-inch plate steel and equipped with an entrance hatch on top. Standard features include rust-resistant exterior paint, cedar plank flooring, zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) interior finishes, two vent ports, floor hatches for storage, and an emergency exit hatch.
Optional features include power connections (your choice of 12-volt or 120-volt), potable water system, septic system, bathroom, kitchen, bunks, and a blast door. “All depending on what you order, and all materials are made in America,” Mr. Woodworth said. “We try to get people as safe as possible within a reasonable budget.” The company’s bunkers range from $25,000 to $35,000.
In the 1950s and 60s, the threat of nuclear war and Cold War tensions sparked demand in home fallout shelters, with endorsements from both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, a proliferation of pamphlets (and coupons) for such structures scattered across America, as well as a vote in 1961 in Congress for $169 million with a big push to mark, locate and stock fallout shelters in existing public and private buildings.
Back then, bunkers were economical in construction and basic in design, consisting of rot-resistant plywood panels and concrete blocks, buried and backfilled with sand or gravel. Today, most shelters are fabricated from steel, like Northeast Bunkers’, or concrete, or cinder blocks. Others are made from airform — a highly engineered reusable and inflatable spray mold to be covered in concrete to create monolithic domes — or from renovated missile silos, and many are completely new high-end construction.
Today, some underground shelter companies market military-grade materials, such as Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Air Filtration Systems, gas-tight and waterproof doors, and six-point locking systems. Others offer the option of home entertainment theaters, game rooms, wine cellars, gun racks, even underground swimming pools.
Atlas Survival Shelters, a fallout shelter company based in Sulphur Springs, Texas, specializes in safe rooms and bomb shelters, and advertises one modular unit that “feels as close to home as possible.”
The modular 8-by-12-foot (not including the entry corridor) mini model costs $49,000 and includes a mud room, a decontamination room, a gas-tight marine door, an air-filtration system, a blast valve and a generator pod. Products at Atlas start at about $400 a square foot, ranging from $9,000 for an inflatable shelter to $5 million for their “platinum series shelter.”
Ron Hubbard, president and owner of Atlas, makes, among other shelter products, monolithic domes that “meet FEMA standards for providing near-absolute protection.”
Atlas’s bunker building videos on YouTube signed up 47,000 new YouTube subscribers in April, and a video of a luxury bunker installation has gotten nearly 6 million views. Atlas has also seen a big uptick in calls and orders since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“But you do not need to go into a bunker to save yourself from the coronavirus,” Mr. Hubbard said. “No one has bought a shelter from me to hide during the pandemic, but many people have bought it because of the pandemic. They feel that this is the beginning of something a lot bigger, and they feel it in their gut.”
Another bunker owner, Roberta, who lives in New Mexico and who also asked that her full name not be used to protect her privacy, bought her off-grid bunker from Atlas Shelters four years ago. “I believe everyone deserves a better chance of survival, not just me.”
She calls her underground shelter her “woman cave,” and it’s equipped with a kitchen, entertainment center, toilet, shower, mud room and a place to sleep. Roberta, 59, married, and retired with grown children, wants to be able to provide a safe haven for her family at a moment’s notice.
She gets into her shelter by entering what looks like a rickety shed hidden in plain sight on a sandy, deserted plot of land that she owns. Inside the shed, she opens a hatch on the floor, and steps down a steep set of stairs to a steel submarine door. Inside, just past the bunker’s mud room is the living room, where a sign reads, “My husband needed more space, so I locked him outside.”
Aaron, the bunker buyer who lives in the Washington D.C. area, found Hardened Structures on Google, and said the company had a good reputation online. When the family was installing an in-ground pool, he decided to have Hardened Structures put in a bunker at the same time.
“So no one knew what we were building,” he said. “I’m not a prepper. My parents were ranchers who do old-school canning, deer hunting, that kind of thing. So I took little things from them.”
Brian V. Camden, principal of Hardened Structures, has been in business for 32 years. The majority of his projects are underground bunkers beneath fortified homes in locations ranging from Brooklyn to ranches out West, as well as contracted military work in the Middle East.
“I collaborate with architects, engineers, Navy Seals,” Mr. Camden said. “We have ex-military employees specializing in C.B.R.N. — chemical biological radio nuclear analysis.”
Hardened Structures also works with a company called Red Team Analysis, ex-Navy Seals who teach bunker breaching to officials from the National Security Agency.
When Hardened Structures is building a bunker, Mr. Camden said, Red Team Analysis supervises their work. Unlike Northeast Bunkers or Atlas, Hardened Structures does not design steel enclosures, but rather cast reinforced concrete, which he says would shield the interior of the bunker from an electromagnetic pulse or geomagnetic storm.
The company’s underground shelters are made from cast-in-place reinforced concrete. The prices range anywhere from $600 to $3,000 per square foot. Factors affecting the cost include blast overpressure (thickness of the concrete walls and structure) and whether it is designed to withstand chemical, biological and radiological dispersion, and conventional weapons — “also known as weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Camden said. “Other factors include the client’s secrecy requirements, the site geotechnical makeup, and the extent of EMP shielding within the shelter itself,” he added, referring to electromagnetic shielding.
With new business booming, bunker installers are also keeping busy with their previous clients.
Recently, Mr. Woodworth, of Northeast Bunkers returned from an installation job on Chebeague Island, in Casco Bay, Maine, and said he was so busy that clients were being wait-listed. Bunker upgrades have also become much more popular among Mr. Woodworth’s clients, and people who were putting in just six months’ worth of food are now putting in two years’ worth.
“I’m just a businessman who deals with paranoid people,” he said, “and it seems like the parameters of paranoia are changing every day.”