Current trends such as "prepping", have stirred up quite a demand for low cost, imported hand-held radios. There's an idea going around that goes something like this: If crap hits the fan, and a wide-spread emergency situation occurs, radio may be the only method of communication...and if we live that scenario, who cares if you have a license or not...right?
Well, there are two parts to this. First, in any emergency situation, almost anything goes. The law supports this. However, communication via radio is skill. And radio skills must be learned and practiced, just like anything else. So the question is: if you find yourself in an emergency situation and need to communicate via radio, will you be able do so? If you expect to just push the button, talk, and expect someone else to hear you...it's not that simple.
There's multiple reasons why a license is required to operate amateur radio. One reason being there is quite a bit of knowledge needed to operate a radio effectively. And more importantly, improper usage of radio can physically harm yourself and others. The last thing you need in an emergency situation is more problems. So we highly recommend taking the time to invest in your radio skills, because it's an investment in yourself.