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Trying to identify a scifi short story, possibly from the golden age, where all citizens carry sidearm weapons. Everyone is super-polite because it is legal and accepted to challenge another citizen to a duel to the death at any perceived slight or unresolvable dispute. Anyone not carrying a sidearm (e.g. children, the elderly, infirm, pacifists etc.) not therefore being able to defend themselves have to defer utterly to true citizens. Any ideas?

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1 Answer 1

It's a novel rather than a short story, but that sounds exactly like Beyond this Horizon by Robert Heinlein.

The novel depicts a world where genetic selection for increased health, longevity, and intelligence has become so widespread that the unmodified 'control naturals' are a carefully managed and protected minority. Dueling and the carrying of arms is a socially accepted way of maintaining civility in public; a man can wear distinctive clothing to show his unwillingness to duel, but this results in a lower social status.

This novel is also the source of the quote "An armed society is a polite society"

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Heinlein has several novels taking place in this world, for example "I will fear no evil" –  Barafu Albino Aug 8 at 17:30
    
@BarafuAlbino: No, "I Will Fear No Evil" is not set in the same universe as Beyond this Horizon. –  Ben Crowell Aug 9 at 6:04
    
Possibly. But has the same society organization and that is what matters in this case. –  Barafu Albino Aug 9 at 7:01
    
@BarafuAlbino & Ben Crowell "Number of the Beast" has references to this as well if I remember correctly. It is been many years since I read that one... I could be wrong. –  Tonny Aug 9 at 10:14

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