Robert A. Heinlein wrote that an armed society is a polite society. Many in the gun culture echo this sentiment. Every firearms trainer that I have met paraphrases it in some way. Here is an example:
Carrying a firearm is a tremendous responsibility. The results of having to use the firearm will follow you the rest of your life. The best way to avoid using it is to avoid confrontations. Be quick to apologize, and ready to walk away from conflict.
Except for “walking” this advice certainly applies to “road rage” incidents. Some otherwise well mannered people seem to become enraged by minor incidents, when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Avoid yelling, honking the horn, or aggressive driving to indicate your displeasure. Try to put yourself in the other driver’s position, and consider that they might have a perfectly understandable reason for their actions. Think back to times when you did stupid things in a vehicle. It is always good to understand another’s motivations, if you can. No one is perfect.
In other words, show compassion, restraint, empathy, and self discipline, so as to live up to Heinlein’s dictum. From the statistics, people who legally carry guns tend to follow this advise. But not always. Here is a case from South Carolina where a minor breech of the “polite” policy almost ended in tragedy. From WYFFR.com:
At Dollar General, deputies spoke to Robert Lee Young, who told them that he and his wife were driving on Highway 9 when they got behind a slow-moving golf cart. He said that as they passed the golf cart, they yelled out the window for the driver to get off the road. The couple then drove to the Hot Spot, where they stopped to get a drink.
Young, who can’t walk because of paralysis and nerve damage, said his wife went into the store to get the drinks. He said, the golf cart, driven by a man later identified as Joseph Cecil Allen, pulled into the parking lot. Young said Allen began yelling at him and pulled a gun as he walked toward them.
To add some clarity, these were non-alcoholic drinks from a convenience store.
Young told deputies that he believed his safety was in jeopardy, so he pulled his handgun to defend himself.
“This is for a concealed weapon. It’s made for it. It’s made just for people in wheelchairs,” said Young, referring to a pouch he wears around his waist. “I keep a .45 loaded in condition one on safety at all times in this thing and it has saved my life on several occasions and other people’s lives. I also keep several other magazines in there. I’ve got 27 rounds ready to go.”
Young’s wife told deputies that she heard shouting outside the store, and saw the men pointing their guns at each other. She said she went outside and got into the car and her husband drove to Dollar General where they called 911.
Mr. Young had a concealed carry permit. Young’s preparation in arming himself may have saved him from a beating or worse; but the whole incident could have been avoided simply by not yelling at the offending “golf cart” driver, who, as it turns out, was legally on the road. I give considerable credit to Mrs. Young, who stepped into an exceedingly dangerous situation and defused it by leaving with her husband. The investigating officer also seems to have done a good job.
Mr. Young seems like a decent, law abiding person in the interview that is in the video. It is obvious, that as a paraplegic, he is at more risk of being a victim than a person who has full use of all their limbs. But in this incident, the golf cart driver, Joseph Cecil Allen, probably did not know that Mr. Young was handicapped, and we cannot know if it would have changed his actions if he had known. Allan claimed that Young displayed his firearm while driving past the “golf cart”, but this seems unlikely because of Allen’s subsequent actions. If, as is indicated in the article, Mr. Young was driving, paraplegic controls on a vehicle are all hand controls, making it harder to drive a vehicle and handle a gun at the same time. If Mr. Young was driving, he would have been on the opposite side of the vehicle when the “golf cart” was passed.
Similarly, Mr. Allen could have avoided all the unpleasantness to follow if he had simply ignored the shouted advice to get off of the road, and went about his business. Mr. Allen did not have a concealed carry permit, and now faces criminal charges.
Fortunately, no one was shot or injured, which is the preferred outcome. I highly recommend that when you are carrying a weapon, that you follow Heinlein’s dictum, and act politely with everyone. It is a good habit for everyone to follow, armed or not.
For those in the gun culture who wish to know what model of .45 Mr. Young was carrying, it was a Hi-Point. I was unable to identify Mr. Allen’s pistol, other than it appeared to be a compact semi-auto.
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch