Like the inevitable laws of cause and effect, specific material possessions elicit specific mental and physical behavior from people.
Anybody who climbs into a red Italian sports car and doesn’t break a couple of traffic laws inside of twenty minutes was either born on Jupiter or has sewage running through his veins. If, however, you stuff the same individual into a Rolls Royce, he instantly becomes the personification of an imaginary English country gentleman.
These behavioral traits are not evidenced for the usual pathetic reasons, like trying to impress your buddies, they are almost subconscious. Apparently we all have a Seventh Sense—a Walter Mittyesque series of synapses that are triggered by mechanical objects. And when all is said and done, there’s nothing wrong with pushing your scarlet Alfa Romeo to the redline as long as it’s on a private road where you’re not potentially endangering other motorists (or violating traffic laws).
You don’t really have to behave like this every time you plant your buns in an Alfa. For that matter it’s not sacrilege eating a hamburger in a Rolls either, as long as you’re in the mood for munching on a piece of squashed dead cow. Nobody says you are obligated to peck away at French mustard and pregnant fish eggs just because you’re in a luxury automobile.
Guns, on the other hand, engender no grey area for those who carry them on a daily basis. Once you make the irreversible decision to “pack iron,” there are only two resultant human mindsets. Either you behave irresponsibly, displaying a penchant for stupidity at every available opportunity—or you don’t. Black or white—that’s it. Period.
You can’t play with the ballistic and gun-handling gas pedal on Monday, and eat Grey Poupon mustard on Tuesday. By the time the weekend rolls around somebody’s going to get hurt.
Growing up in an extremely aggressive 1960s alpha-male society, by the time I—and every other male in the country—had reached early teen years, one exhibited mental and physical behavior which not only raised eyebrows, but in retrospect raises doubts about our then-current mental capacities—or lack thereof.
If, for example, another male actually had the unmitigated gall to look at you—even momentarily—you immediately morphed into a rabid junkyard dog. A millisecond after your eyes locked, the oral swords came out of their scabbards. The words “What the hell are you staring at” could have been set to music and regarded as the national anthem.
Of course, this was only because he had paid you the ultimate insult—he’d somehow inadvertently managed to actually presume to position himself inside your “personal space.” Suffice it to say that this personal space varied from six feet out to the horizon, dependent on whether your royal highness was in an Alfa Romeo or Rolls Royce frame of mind at any given moment.
Retaliatory verbals ensued, distance closed, and the almost invariable result was an exhibition of ungentlemanly fisticuffs. The curious effect of this display of male stupidity was that several moments after the fight you had made a new buddy, and usually departed together in search of an illegal alcoholic beverage to cement the friendship.
It never really resulted in severe injury, even though the release of West Side Story did cause a fair amount of self-induced puncture wounds sustained from switchblade knives self-opening in jeans pockets.
But now it’s four years later, and you’ve grown from a twelve-year-old kid into a sixteen-year-old man. And now you’re carrying a gun.
Your mindset has changed dramatically because you know this time if a fight breaks out, the loser is going to die. You also know that apart from the forty-year-old village drunk who still looks for trouble every night, almost everybody else is carrying a concealed pistol. Like the man said, an armed society is a polite society. It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to work out who was attacked and who wasn’t during the Los Angeles riots and in the aftermath of the New Orleans hurricane ordeal last September.
Then came the dark clouds of war, and you and the rest of your seventeen-year-old pugilist acquaintances were fighting a common enemy. All of a sudden, laden like a pack mule with rifles, ammo and various other weapons of war, you reached manhood. You fought hard, drank hard and took care of each other like brothers.
For those who made it back, never again was unnecessary violence initiated for puerile reasons. Since then you’ve packed your two-pound ballistic tumor daily, quietly, and with decorum—just in case. Today, only crooks and stupid people wave guns around, and sooner or later they buy a ticket on the wrong train. A wise man never shows his ace in the hole.
You no longer sing the “national anthem” when somebody cuts you off in traffic like you did in your unarmed youth. A gentle verbal reproach has replaced the right uppercut you used when some ill-mannered lout failed to hold open a door for a woman. And last, but not least, when some fool eggs you on, you can walk away from his taunts with calm assurance, knowing you have his number.
Even on that sunny day when you slip into your second childhood and push the sportster to the limit, one corner of your mind is ticking over at half-revs with the quiet comfort of the pistol at your side.
Yes, different material possessions trigger different responses in people. But while you can play with children, poker chips and even a sports car, guns should bring out only a couple of emotions in people—reassurance and respect. Anything else will cause you to crash and burn.
[Louis Awerbuck is Director of the internationally acclaimed Yavapai Firearms Academy. Course information and schedules are available at their website at www.yfainc.com]