The odds were 4 to 1 when I met a man with a gun.


I crossed paths with this outnumbered, gun toting man while backpacking with three other men in the vast and remote wilderness known as the BWCA.  The BWCA is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is a 1,090,000-acre wilderness area within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota.  To use the term remote to describe that area is an understatement.

The man was carrying a canoe on his shoulders through one of the many portages you’ll find in the BWCA and his firearm was in plain view upon his right hip.

The man didn’t threaten me and the gun didn’t make me fear for my life.

The man with the gun didn’t ask or demand my respect.

What that firearm did do, was reminded me to be polite.

It reminded me of my youth and the stern look I’d get from my dad if I had a momentary lapse in the proper manners my mother and grandmother had taught me.  I knew from experience, that my dads stern look held behind it a guaranteed, appropriate amount of ass whoop-en.” 

We humans sometimes forget that manners aren’t instinctual to our species.  It’s a behavior that needs to be taught and in some cases reminders need to be given.

Seeing that gun reminded me to pay attention to what I do and say. It reminded me to be polite and look someone in the eye when I meet them and nod hello.

As the man with the gun politely said hello and passed us by, something else happened.  An attractive woman with a backpack appeared 50 yards down the trail.  She was following behind the armed man.  She was obviously the man’s significant other.

All at once and without being told, everyone in my group, stood to the side of the trail to let her pass and tipped our hats with a nod and greeted her with the phrase “good morning ma’am.”

That small incident, out in that very wild and remote area where there literally is no 911 service stuck with me and made me think.  It made me think about how much more polite our society would be if openly wearing a side arm was just as much in fashion as wearing a cell phone.

Robert A. Heinlein, one of the most influential science fiction authors once said;

“An armed society is a polite society.  Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”


Thank you kindly for taking the time to read my post.

I bid you a good day and safe travels.

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Just click the image of the book below.

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2 thoughts on “The odds were 4 to 1 when I met a man with a gun.

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