About 70 percent of customers who visit Protective Bunkers Survival Center in Lake Elsinore believe the U.S. government is arming up against its citizens, according to Josh Jackling, who, along with his wife, Rachel, own the retail store located just off the 15 Freeway.
The Jacklings say they want to educate and prepare U.S. citizens in the event that scenario should actually happen.
But it’s not just armed takeover the Jacklings say people are worried about. Approximately 20 percent of the store’s customers believe another terrorist attack on U.S. soil is coming, and about 10 percent are primarily concerned about emergency situations like earthquake, fire or massive power outages, Josh said.
Preparedness, the Jacklings say, is key to survival.
“We started looking for a bunker for ourselves after Japan (the 2011 earthquake that left thousands dead). A lot of people are gearing up,” Josh said.
Protective Bunkers Survival Center has been open for nearly a year. Not only does the store stock military-style products like survival kits, hunting tools, camouflage and tactical gear, gas masks, large water containers, and more, Josh also custom builds underground bunkers. Any size, any design.
He talked about one bunker he’s been working on for a customer who insisted on incorporating a dog run. The idea, Josh said, is to make a bunker feel like home even though conditions above ground may be worst-case scenario.
“You’re already scared. You want it to be comfortable,” he explained.
Josh said business is picking up at Protective Bunkers Survival Center. The Jacklings have more visibility now due to a billboard on the 15 Freeway, just north of the Diamond Drive exit in Lake Elsinore. The large sign advertises the store to southbound travelers and was installed this month, and this Labor Day weekend the store is having a big sale.
Timing of the sign and sale could be just coincidence, but Josh said he is aware of heightened concern among some about current events. The alleged chemical weapon use in Syria is just one of many tipping points, according to Josh.
Rachel said she became more concerned about self-protection after 9/11.
“That’s when it really hit me,” she explained.
Dave “Rocky” Roknian made the trek Wednesday afternoon to Protective Bunkers Survival Center from Upland. A holster for his semi-automatic Desert Eagle was on his shopping list. He found what he was looking for at the store, checked its fit with his unloaded weapon, made the purchase, and shared his reasons for needing a semi-automatic.
A computer guy by profession with an outgoing personality, Roknian did not speak of government takeovers. Instead, he talked of his travels to a very remote (and secret) Southland desert location where he and “law enforcement types” practice survival skills.
“It’s camping at the very upper levels,” he said, noting that participants –- sometimes 50 people at a time –- practice living off the land using tools like cross bows, machetes, snares, fishing gear, and other devices. They wear camo, and use ham radios to communicate and keep abreast of weather emergencies.
As for the Desert Eagle, Roknian said it’s more of a “deterrent,” just in case he needs to defend himself.
“I’m not panicked,” he said. “I just want to be ready for anything.”
Preparedness became paramount, explained Roknian, during work with NBC in Los Angeles, where every Wednesday in Universal City he and colleagues practiced earthquake drills.
“If food and water becomes scarce, California has millions of people,” Roknian said, “and everyone is going to say, ‘me first.’”
Josh said Protective Bunkers Survival Center does not sell firearms or ammunition. Instead, they market survival tools and educate the public, he explained. For example, on Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the store, the Jacklings will host a discussion on conspiracy theories.
“It will be an open dialogue, where people can talk about these issues,” he continued, while alluding to online chatter about worries of an impending emergency in this country on or about Oct. 1.
“FEMA could takes weeks – if ever – to respond, and once you have martial law," he said, "it all goes out the window."