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Author Topic: An Armed Society Is...  (Read 11268 times)

Joel

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An Armed Society Is...
« on: September 15, 2004, 05:33:53 pm »

This is an article I wrote 2-3 years ago for a libertarian webzine, about my own private Hardyville.  I didn't entirely know what I had when I had it, and as the article says, 'I left it far too casually.'  Got to thinking about this little town last night, and looked up the article.

An Armed Society is...

Quote
"You are infringing on the rights of the unarmed people of the US to live a peaceful existence without fear of being gunned down by a citizen carrying a concealed weapon. You are interfering with their right to openly express their frustration if they feel so inclined. Always in their minds is the thought, 'He might have a gun'!"

This is a portion of an e-mail I received during an internet argument sometime last year. I swear I'm not making it up. I didn't know what to say; this person's perceptions were so completely alien to mine it was like we weren't even the same species.

It took me back to an experience I'd had, just a couple of months earlier.

Many, many moons ago when my hair was only "thinning", I took a job in an unusually godforsaken chunk of wasteland in the Texas panhandle. My first morning in town I woke up in a broken down motel and looked out the dirty window at the dry, windblown, barren...oh, no adjective is sufficiently negative to describe this landscape. My mental state instantly shifted from cautious pessimism to full-blown suicidal depression. What in God's name had I been thinking of? What was I doing here?

I drove around this town in which I knew only one soul and wondered how I would get by. By chance I happened to drive behind the local rodeo ground to the area of some dilapidated tin buildings. I heard shotguns close by. Going to investigate, I went round the buildings and found an improbable but beautifully kept skeet range occupied by several prosperous-looking and heavily-armed gentlemen.

Aware that I was trespassing, that I was shabby and completely out of place, I began to retreat. But one man approached and asked if he could help me. He didn't ask it in the usual way that really means, "what are you doing here?" He asked it as if he might actually be willing to help if the request were reasonable. I said I had just followed the sound of the guns, and he asked if I wanted to join them. The suggestion was ridiculous to me, but he was serious. He offered me the loan of a shotgun. I recognized the gun from my reading on such things. It was worth more than my car.

After a couple of rounds of skeet they invited me to join them at a local restaurant. This was how I met the older and more respectable core of my entire group of friends for the next five years. These people gradually became the standard by which I judged all others, and the frightening, barren landscape revealed itself as open, uncluttered and liberating.

Now, there's something I have to say about this town. This was a place where total strangers nodded and said "hi" when you passed them on the street. Where many or most homes were unlocked at night. Where women did not fear men - at least not as much as men feared them. Where street crime was virtually unknown. In fact, police in a nearby city kept informal statistics on the life expectancy - not the career length, the life expectancy - of an imported midwestern mugger.

I was born in Detroit. I just wasn't used to this sort of thing.

I worked in an auto dealership there. Once (just out of nosiness) I quietly did a little survey, looking in the glove box or under the driver's seat of every car I worked on for a week or two. I came up with a handgun about 33% of the time. An unknown but large minority of the people were armed at all times. I was once invited to the home of some friends for dinner after we had met somewhere else. When we went inside, he pulled an autopistol out of an IWB holster and put it on a shelf near the door. She rummaged around in her purse, found a .44 snubby and put it on the shelf. I looked at the shelf for a moment, trying to decide the polite thing to do. Then I pulled out my .45 and put it on the shelf with the rest. Nobody said a word about it; it wasn't remarkable enough to mention. But it reminded me of line from a novel I'd recently read: "I will defend this house, and those in it, as if they were my own."

I left that town far too casually.

Fast forward almost 20 years. Battered by some very bad things that had happened, I impulsively packed a bag and drove halfway across the country to what I'd come to remember as the best place in the world. I knew it was a fool's errand. I firmly believed I would return more depressed than before; that everything I remembered would be gone or would prove to be not the way I remembered at all.

The place I'd worked, the places I liked to hang out, all seemed to be gone. The town had clearly seen some hard economic times. But the High Plains that had once intimidated me still made me want to stand straight and breathe deep. The crude oil stench from the wells was still the familiar, friendly smell of home.

On an impulse I drove out to the rodeo ground at the east of town. The same leaning tin buildings were still there, including the one that had turned out to be a pistol range for the local shooting club. I expected to find it abandoned, but there were two cars outside. As I approached, a man happened to step outside and I rolled down my window to speak with him. In the course of the conversation he asked me if I wanted to come inside and "shoot some." I had some extra ammo but no earmuffs, but he lent me some plugs and we shot up some targets together. And he was well acquainted with a good friend of mine, and directed me as to how I could contact him.

And so at the very spot on which I had been welcomed to the town decades ago, I was welcomed back in the exact same manner after many wandering years.

Afterward I walked downtown for a while and thought about Heinlein's Dictum, that an armed society is a polite society. He was right as far as he went, but he didn't go far enough. The statement implies that armed people are polite because they are afraid of each other, and that's wrong.

An armed society is a friendly society. The people there can afford to be friendly, because they have nothing to fear from each other.

I don't know whether to be contemptuous or pitying toward the poor creature that sent me that e-mail. I do know that it's sad that a person would be so unthinkingly fearful of people like the ones who live in the best place in the world.

 
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byron

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2004, 05:52:25 pm »

Very nice story, John. These are the sort of people that are my favorite kinfolk, the type that raised me, and whose numbers are fewer and fewer these days.
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debra

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2004, 06:10:16 pm »

Hey! I remember reading this before!  Can't remember where (maybe TLE?), but I remember it.

 B)  
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RagnarDanneskjold

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2004, 07:03:09 pm »

Quote
This is an article I wrote 2-3 years ago for a libertarian webzine
SummmmmmmBitch - I know I read that before, printed it out a few years ago and it is probably laying around the house in one of the many piles or boxes of printouts that will most likely some day spontaneously combust and give me the chance to start over  :D  
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The Mayor is the Problem
The flagpole is the answer
We hung the first one
We can hang another one

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Dear Government
You are a ass shit.

A note from my younger son when he was 3.

When rights are outlawed, only outlaws will have rights. - Me


Round up everybody who can ride a horse or pull a trigger. Let's break out some Winchesters.  - John Wayne (Chisum)

Junker

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2004, 07:28:03 pm »

Nice story. I enjoyed the reading. Thank you for the writing and the posting of it.  :)  
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Claire

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2004, 07:43:50 pm »

Yeah, damn. You're gonna give George Potter a run for his money. What a pleasure it is having two such powerful storytellers here ... and maybe a few more who just haven't told their stories yet. Or whose stories I'm not remembering at the moment.
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Just as the flattery of friends often leads us astray, so the insults of enemies often do us good. -- St. Augustine, Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 8


When faith ceases to be a challenge to the standards of polite society, it is no longer, or has not yet become, faith. -- Donald Spoto, Reluctant Saint:  The Life of Francis of Assisi


My life is my message. -- Gandhi

Lightning

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2004, 07:45:15 pm »

Wonderful piece, John DeWitt.  It helped me understand things I didn't before.  Thank you.

What a delightful thought: living day in and day out with a trusting approach to people, a willingness to look at them for who they show themselves to be.
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I'm damn well free to dance through life even if 'they' expect me to cringe and crawl.

"Your life is an occasion.  Rise to it."  --Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Magorium, in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

unstructuredreality

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2004, 07:45:18 pm »

Good stuff, I enjoyed it.  I'll print it out too.  Maybe when my buliding combusts from all of the papers, I'll get a nice insurance settlement, jk.

Peace and Good Day
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Junker

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2004, 09:15:10 pm »

Blitzen> What a delightful thought: living day in and day out with a trusting approach to people, a willingness to look at them for who they show themselves to be.

Well said. I think that that may be why life is so rough on many people today. That was part of the core of society and socializing. Much of that is lacking today and I think leads in good part to how dismal many find life.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2004, 09:15:30 pm by Junker »
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enemyofthestate

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2004, 11:25:44 pm »

Quote
Quote
"You are infringing on the rights of the unarmed people of the US to live a peaceful existence without fear of being gunned down by a citizen carrying a concealed weapon. You are interfering with their right to openly express their frustration if they feel so inclined. Always in their minds is the thought, 'He might have a gun'!"
F**king bigot.  This is the attitude of the Xian who doesn't want to ever see a gay couple holding hands.  Or the Cracker who goes ballistic when he encounters a salt n' pepper couple.  A**holes like this belong on a reservation for the terminally ignorant.
 
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--Stephen Carville

Atheist   n.   A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others
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Mac the Knife

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2004, 01:14:56 am »

I remember reading it a couple of years back too. It is even better the second time around. I will be adding that to my encrypted journal where I keep items that I like to read again and again.
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penguinsscareme

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2004, 11:39:23 am »

People in an armed society tend to be exactly what they seem to be.  In my neck of the woods, that's just unheard of.  Folks don't know how to deal with a person who has no pretenses or affectations.
I loved your story.  Maybe it'll inspire me to write some.  Thanks.
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

ZooT_aLLures

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2004, 11:44:18 am »

Quote
A**holes like this belong on a reservation for the terminally ignorant.

Ahhh*grinning* but we all came from that reservation at one time or another........

Indeed should people be forced to be in an environment that supports continuing to think inside of "that" box merely because you don't agree with them?
Who are you to dictate to others?
Who am I to dictate to others?

That is unless you happened to be born an anarchist in an environment of complete freedom, raised an anarchist, and never looked down at anyone because they were different than you are?

Now lets talk some shit.........

Can you honestly say that freedom doesn't include the right to live as a gun hating homophobic antisemitic racist if one so chooses?

If you say that freedom doesn't include the right to live in such a manner, then you're not interested in freedom so much as you are in having the freedom to control others.

But then again, I also fight these same battles constantly and therefore I'm not only talking to you, but to myself as well.

After all we'll only attain the exact amount of freedom that we're willing to allow the least of us, just as others will only attain the exact amount of freedom that they're willing to allow to the least of us, and the least of us is based upon "point of view".

 
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Even some cowboy and indian outlaws in the 1800's eventually stopped sleeping under buffalo skins, and came to town to entertain paying customers. For some I imagine the bruising of their ego never healed.

We all have some scar tissue that never lets us completely forget the intent of the adventure.

securitysix

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2004, 11:48:10 am »

This is the very thing that people outside the "gun culture" don't understand, and never will.  The few people that come to understand the sentiment in this article become part of the "gun culture" either as they come to this realization or long before they figure it out.  The people I know who are gun owners are more polite than the people I know who are not gun owners.  It also seems like the more they shoot, the better their attitude gets...
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enemyofthestate

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An Armed Society Is...
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2004, 12:04:54 pm »

Quote
Quote
A**holes like this belong on a reservation for the terminally ignorant.

Ahhh*grinning* but we all came from that reservation at one time or another........

Indeed should people be forced to be in an environment that supports continuing to think inside of "that" box merely because you don't agree with them?
Who are you to dictate to others?
Who am I to dictate to others?

Read the quote.  The jerk thinks my carrying a concealed weapon is a violation of his right to be unarmed.  By caiming a rights violation he is claiming he has a legitimate power to stop me.  If you and I have no right to dicate to others, neither does this feeb.

Quote
Now lets talk some shit.........

Can you honestly say that freedom doesn't include the right to live as a gun hating homophobic antisemitic racist if one so chooses?

Freedom allows you to be anything you are capable of as long as you don't intefere with the equal rights of others to do the same.  That includes a right to call any homophobic antisemitic racist a**hole a "homophobic antisemitic racist a**hole."
 
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Mystical man values human life.  Rational man values the ability to value human life.
--Stephen Carville

Atheist   n.   A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others
-- Chaz Bufe, The American Heretics Dictionary
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