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The Gun Is Civilization


“The Gun Is Civilization” by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

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.

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.

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 gang banger, and a single 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.

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 armed 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.

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 weight lifter.
It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

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.

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.



  1. ryan59479 says:

    Using the same logic, in a civilization where nobody was armed nobody could be forced to do anything either.

    • Using your logic, there was no force before the invention of firearms. The post was actually about how the gun levels the playing field for those less able to withstand force from others.

      • ryan59479 says:

        And my point was that it doesn’t. Do you really think an 80 year old woman with a walker and poor eyesight is really put on an equal playing field with the 20something robber that’s broken into her house just because she has a gun?

    • sjah1 says:

      @ryan59479 You either did not read the article in its entirety or you need to work on your reading comprehension, for the article spent approximately a third of its entirety debunking your “argument”.
      But for fun lets follow your argument to a logical conclusion. First we have to define what being armed means. For this we’ll use the broad definition “Equipped with or carrying a weapon or weapons.” Second we have to determine what a “weapon” is. A weapon is “A thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage” the key word is used. Using these accepted definitions for these concepts I’ll ask again what is a weapon? A gun? most certainly. A rock? yes. A stick? Yes. A glass, bottle, fork, spoon, a mixing bowl? Yes, all these can be used to harm or even kill another human being. As such according to what you postulate all these and an almost infinite number of common everyday objects and tool would have to be located in such a place where they could not be accessed by any human beings. Assuming that this is so, is mankind unarmed even then? No, we have our bodies and again it is common knowledge that the human body can be used to injure or kill another human. So what, according to your postulation, is the answer? No humans?

      • ryan59479 says:

        My ultimate point here is that it’s a fallacy to say that if everyone is armed that we’ll be forced to use reason instead of force. From a logical standpoint, there’s no reason why one person would use force over reason in the first place. So if you’re working from the “might makes right” perspective you’re already choosing an irrational path. And since you can’t ever guaranteed that there will always only ever be rational people in any society, all you’re going to end up doing is arming irrational people in the process, people who would use a weapon on whoever they want for whatever reason they see fit. Would it help that everyone else is armed? I guess so. But in a shoot out between two people, someone isn’t walking away with their health intact.

      • ryan59479 says:

        Also, for the record, I am NOT for the banning of firearms. I own several myself. I was merely making a comment about the logic of arming EVERYONE in a society.

  2. Mikey G says:

    I’d say intimidation and deceit are means other than force or reason for influencing the behavior of others. I’d say they are actually the much more common methods too. When was the last time someone literally forced you to do anything? When was the last time you were actually convinced of taking a new course of action?

    But that does not dispute the actual point of the argument about guns helping remove force (and intimidation) from the equation.

    • I’d say intimidation definitely falls under the category of “force.” After all, it relies upon the intimation that force will be used if compliance is not forthcoming.

    • sjah1 says:

      Adding to Fionna’s comments deceit falls under the category of reason as the argument can be made that one does not have to believe in the argument they put forth for the purpose of convincing others that it is a reasonable argument and should be adhered to. To put it simply, false (deceitful) reasoning is still reasoning.

  3. ryan59479 says:

    I’ll try tackling this another way. At present, there will always be an unstable portion of the population who cannot or will not use reason over force. So how do you control that? How do you keep those particular people from gaining access to weapons? We don’t exactly do the greatest job of that now, so how would we change that?

    • ryan59479 says:

      Which doesn’t even take into account that presently stable people can become unstable in the future. The man that loses his job and can’t afford to feed his family suddenly has the means to try to take it from others with force. My ultimate point here is that arming everyone doesn’t solve the problem anymore than taking away all guns, because it does nothing to address the problems created by human nature.

    • The most violent cities in America are the ones with the strictest gun laws. Clearly, more gun control doesn’t prevent crime.

      I don’t think you read the same post that was written. No where does it advocate for “arming everyone.” It only advocates allowing people to arm themselves.

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