The gun is civilization
I thought about what relevant snippet was worth quoting. Thing is, the whole thing is worth quoting. Hopefully Marko Kloos won’t be too upset by this, especially since I’m giving him proper credit (not this Major Caudill, who didn’t write this) and I’m not Ted Nugent nor writing some commercial book. I’m only doing this so I can add my own thoughts to his. I have quoted his essay in its entirety, just broken up so I can comment/respond:
why the gun is civilization.
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.
Force, as a noun, is coercion or compulsion, especially with use of a threat. As a verb, to be forced is to make someone do something against their will. It is worth noting that laws are force. There is no argument, there is no debate. You must behave in this manner else you will be punished (sanctioned, fined, thrown in jail, property seized, rights denied, etc.). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we must remember what laws are and consequently use them judiciously.
In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
I would not say it’s the only thing, as really any weapon can fit this bill. However, in terms of technical evolution it is certainly at the top of the list.
When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.
Without question, a gun is an equalizer. For those that scream on and on demanding equal rights, it’s amazing how so many of them also wish to deny equality of rights for people to defend themselves.
There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
It doesn’t require the state to grant the force monopoly, but of course the state using force of law to force law-abiding citizens to be at a disadvantage… maybe somehow they believe that to be civilized — and it’s a great dream to have — but so long as there is evil in the world, good men need to be prepared to confront it else be victimized by it.
Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.
While I’m not necessarily happy to see people making and posting videos of fights, one positive side-effect is that you can go to YouTube or other video web sites and see the realities of fights and how ugly and brutal they can be. Not sport, not Hollywood, but real fights. Folks, it’s ugly. Is a gun a guarantee, no, but it’s your best bet, especially if you aren’t at the top of the physical heap.
When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation…and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
To be civilized is to be at a stage of social, cultural, and moral development that is considered to be more advanced. If human interaction is either done via reason or force, even those that fight for disarmament do so because they believe achieving results through force to be a lesser way to achieve those results; they believe in the superiority of reason. If such is the case then yes, carrying a gun is quite civilized.
It reminds me of Syd’s famous posting, I Don’t Carry a Gun….
Marko, great posting. Thank you for writing it.