"An armed society is a polite society"...
I bet this recent grad will think twice the next time she attempts to merge when another car is also merging. Oh wait, she is dead so guess that's out the window.
...as long as there are no batshit crazy weirdly obsessed people with massive anger-management issues who are armed.
You were supposed to check your guns with the Sheriff, Marshall or whomever in most towns.
Out in the range, different story.
But bush-whacking, ranch burning, and all other sorts of ambush attacks happened - and it never mattered if the target was armed or not. Heck, even the "peaceful Farmers" had weapons to protect their farms from "vairmints".
Simple rule of thumb - if the attack was sudden, or the attacker(s) got the drop on a target, the target rarely was able to protect him or herself.
So no, in the 1800's the West wasn't a polite and armed society.
As it is, if the saying is actually read in context of the short story it was written in, Heinlein was being ironic.
His implication is that an armed society is either highly chaotic or a "pacified" and rigidly structured society where everyone goes about in fear of being shot by anyone else for the slightest social infraction or engaging in political opposition.
(On edit - Being a bit of a historical elitist there, aren't I?)
One less black man who might be walking in their neighborhood. Zimmerman is a kindly gentleman to them.
I'm sure the 9 dead probably don't think so
9 Are Killed in Biker Gang Shootout in Waco
A shootout among members of several rival motorcycle gangs in a busy shopping plaza in the Central Texas city of Waco on Sunday left at least nine bikers dead and 18 others injured, creating chaos in a sprawling parking lot packed with afternoon shoppers, law enforcement officials said.
The gunfire erupted about 12:15 p.m. outside a Twin Peaks Restaurant, where members of the motorcycle clubs had gathered. The fight spilled into the parking lot, initially involving just fists and feet, but escalating quickly to chains, knives, clubs and firearms. Waco police officers were already at the scene when the confrontation unfolded because they had anticipated problems as hundreds of bikers from at least five groups gathered at the shopping plaza.