I haven’t had much to say about the whole George Zimmerman case. Too many people have picked over its carcass, mostly people who are vastly unqualified by either training or experience to speak knowledgeably.
I won’t talk about the law involved, except to say that the evidence that I’ve seen points to Mr. Zimmerman firing in self-defense.
I want to talk about being armed and the real meaning of the Robert Heinlein remark that “an armed society is a polite society.” My friend Aaron Walker has argued that if George Zimmerman had been openly carrying his pistol, it is likely that Trayvon Martin would not have taken a swing at him in the first place. That makes sense. I can tell you that I once avoided being assaulted when I turned so that the other guy could see the .45 in my holster, and he realized that he was about to bring a knife to a gun fight. My potential assailant remembered his manners.
But that’s not the point of Heinlein’s maxim.
When one goes armed, he must remember his own good manners. When one is armed, whether with a gun or knife or any other weapon, he needs to remember that any conflict that he becomes a part of has the potential to become deadly. In that case, rather that feeling empowered to be obnoxious or assertive, the armed man seeks to avoid giving offense to others. Those who don’t have a significant risk of being removed from the gene pool.
The empirical evidence from those states that don’t interfere with Second Amendment rights suggests that gun carriers are a law abiding group. Folks with carry permits, for example, commit crimes at a significantly lower rate than politicians who are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (but that organization’s crime rate is sufficiently high that it should be called Illegal Mayors Against Guns).
Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
UPDATE—I am not an advocate of open carry per se. Indeed, if Maryland would stop its concerted effort to suppress Second Amendment rights, I would probably engage in concealed carry most of the time. The incident I cite above occurred in a place where only open carry was legal.
Open and concealed carry have different tactical advantages. Neither is necessarily appropriate in all situations, but, regardless of how one goes armed, the necessity of being well mannered is always there.