Gun proponents say that if we all carried guns on our hip, like in the old Hollywood version of the Wild West, we'd be safer. No punk kid would dare hassle us on the L knowing we could pull out a gun and blow him away.
The problem, say the rest of us, is that all those guns on the hip inevitably would lead to more violence as petty disputes, once resolved with words or fists, were now settled with guns.
Exactly that happened Sunday night when, police say, a former Marine in south suburban University Park shot and killed a neighbor for that most dastardly of offenses -- letting his dog urinate on a perfect lawn. The argument started with words and ended in gunfire when the homeowner with the perfect lawn, Charles J. Clements Jr., pulled his gun.
Why was he even carrying a gun?
I suppose the response of the gun lobby will be that the other guy, Joshua Funches, might still be alive if he'd been packing, too.
That's the solution, folks -- crank up a personal arms race across America.
In his book "Roughing It," Mark Twain only half-jokingly wrote about a culture of violence so severe in the Old West that a man wasn't anybody -- didn't have an iota of status or respect -- until he had "shot his man." Why, a man who had not gunned down at least one other man could hardly get the bartender's attention in a saloon.
Apparently, the deterrent effect of a gun on every hip didn't much work.