The other day, it almost seemed plausible that the National Rifle Association had come to its senses.
The association issued a news release denouncing the Open Carry folks in Texas, saying their insistence on displaying semi-automatic weapons in a restaurant was not only unwise but "weird."
Of course, after the Open Carry people protested, an NRA official hastily announced that the posting had been a mistake.
There have been times and places when people had to be conspicuously armed when they went about their day-to-day activities: areas of Asia and Africa torn by civil or tribal warfare; parts of the American frontier in the 18th and 19th centuries; and jungle settlements when rogue animals with a taste for human flesh are on the prowl nearby.
Future historians will be puzzled why what was once one of the most technologically advanced, enlightened societies in history aspired to ascend to such a high level of everyday wariness.
They will marvel at how virtually unlimited access to and display of firearms was pushed upon a reluctant majority by a relatively tiny group of particularly vocal and politically organized zealots.
They will find it particularly ironic that the unlimited-guns advocates so effectively used the concept of "freedom" to justify their cause.
As the future historians will see — as anyone who lived in one of those other places or times when guns were truly an essential part of daily life could have told us — no one is less free than a man, woman or child who must live in fear of death.
Copyright Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette. Distributed by the Associated Press.