An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
Robert A. Heinlein
Beyond This Horizon
[I went looking for this quote when making a comment the other day and found I had never posted this on my blog. It’s such an important and famous quote for our culture I decided that I should include it even though it is going to be rare that someone reading my blog will have not seen or heard it before.
While I agree with the first sentence I’m not so sure about second. I think there is something else going on. I think the more significant changes that occur are in the armed person(s) rather than those around them. I have carried a gun nearly every day for nearly 20 years and while it is difficult to recall exactly how I felt and acted before I started carrying I think the mostly subconscious thought process goes something like the following.
I shouldn’t, and don’t need to, let my emotions dominate in a conflict with another person. I have a gun. If my emotions rule me I might use it when I should not. Should my adversary get so far out of line that I, or another innocent person, be in physical danger I can probably handle it because I have a gun. There is no need to “get back in their face” if they are getting all wound up. I can let them blow off their steam and coolly observe and be prepared to defend with decisive force rather than attempt to confront them early in their emotional escalation. Hence my response to conflict tends to be more subdued than unarmed people. This, in most cases, results in the other side deescalating or at least not getting completely out of control. When both parties are armed the response on the other side is also subdued and we arrive at the observed result of “an armed society is a polite society.”—Joe]