But…Isn’t An Armed Society A Polite Society?

From Album 5

OK, my image is a little forced, but…I sometimes think of the old saw armed = polite when stuck in traffic, when every vehicle is a potentially lethal weapon, and when polite is the last thing that comes to mind. No, weapons don’t make people polite. They risk making stressful situations far, far worse.

The idea that we can arm and shoot our way to safety and security is absurd. It turns the entire notion of civil society on its head, making it at best a case where we’re perpetually on the verge of the-war-of-all-against-all. It goes beyond reasonable self-interest to a hyper-individualism that lashes out furiously against any perceived slight. Toss in religion, culture of honor, refusal to compromise in the name of civility, tolerate diversity, etc. … then add guns as easily obtainable as toys … and you get yesterday, where the violence in San Bernardino was the worst, but not the only mass shooting.

And then there will be the inevitably demagoguery from the usual suspects, who’ll insist this can all be taken care of by a war, or a wall, or by “bombing the shit out” of whoever … once they’re voted into office. Because that’s obviously worked out so well over the last decade and a half…

We’ve now got a generation of young adults for whom war overseas and mass shootings at home is…normal.


3 thoughts on “But…Isn’t An Armed Society A Polite Society?

  1. “An armed society is a polite society?”

    Those who wish to live by that motto are invited to move to the Libertarian Paradise of Somalia (lots of guns! no regulation! no taxes!). We’ll even kick in for (one way) airfare.

  2. To your point–it was just last week that a guy went into a Waffle House in Biloxi, MS, apparently lit up a cigarette and was told the establishment was non-smoking. After a brief argument with the waitress, he pulled out a handgun and shot her in the head, killing her.

    That, seemingly, is the “freedom” that the NRA is selling–no one tells you what to do when you’ve got the firepower necessary to back them down. Their model is some Hollywood version of the Old West, and they sell it with vigor (recall that it was an old flintlock that Charlton Heston brandished at one NRA national convention while repeating that absurd dictum about “cold dead hands” which always seems to get the crowd on its feet cheering, but, in fact, in civilized society, looks a lot more like a cultish death wish). And yet, the weapons of today are inspired by the modern military and are of considerable destructive power.

    The NRA has been very successful at getting the public, legislators and judges to accept their truncated version of the 2nd Amendment, and no small amount of money has greased the skids, money that the gun control crowd just doesn’t have and therefore can’t compete for the attention of legislators. The 2nd Amendment, though, still exists as written, and regulation of firearms is built into its language, so a legislator’s failure to acknowledge and act on that is effectively a failure of will.

    As with so many other arenas of political life today, we’re going to need better legislators to tackle the problem of gun proliferation increasing the incidence of gun violence. And we’re going to need more public opprobrium of and suspicion toward gun nuts. At some point, they are going to have to relearn that the second clause of the 2nd Amendment is dependent upon the first, and that their interests as individuals is not the focus of the 2nd Amendment.

    1. “Their model is some Hollywood version of the Old West” — yep. Which never existed, except in the movies, or in the child-like (if you prefer, childish) imaginations of those who insist their gun is their security…in much the same way a child clings to a favorite toy.

      The real world is a much bigger and much more complicated place. But to insist that everyone has to carry around a goddamned firearm, well…it’s like what I said: on the highways, we’re all essentially “armed” in the sense that 2000 pound hunks of metal are more than capable of lethal force…but that sure as hell doesn’t stop people from doing deadly foolish things in them…emphasis on deadly.

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