The beauty of Aikido is something I call Martial Discretion which to me means I do not have to escalate beyond the point of no return...
To Ms. Schill's point a story...One of my first Karate Teachers was a man named Bob Burbidge who taught our kids classes under Chuck Norris...Many years later I ran into him in Malibu and at the time He was one rowdy dude. We were roommates together in the same house. This guy was one of the best Tang Soo Do Black Belts Chuck ever taught and was on his Karate team.
One night before I got sober Both of us were drinking down at the Coral Beach Cantina and he was with some famous local Karate Legends (who shall remain nameless) when Some huge Texan Dude started mouthing off to his girlfriend. Bob never turned down an opportunity to a beat down and told the guy to mind his manners. The Dude made the mistake of thinking Bob was some fat middle aged big mouth and got in his face...The whole bar warned the Texan not to mess with Bob. Bob called him a nick name reserved for a certain part of the female anatomy and the Texan fearing for his life whipped out a handgun and stuck it in Bob's face. Bob called his bluff and told him "You don't have the cojones' to pull the trigger." The dude realized he had mistakenly escalated to the point of no return. Bob then snatched the gun and proceeded with the beat down. Lucky for the Texan the Sheriffs showed up and arrested the Texan and let Bob go on self defense....
My Point...The "Carrying a Gun" cliche' sounds really good...but it's as pointless as argument as saying "We are not Samurai." To further your other argument however... Martial Arts when done correctly breeds Martial Awareness aka Martial Discretion. Aikido gives me the ability to not only defend myself but when done correctly defend my opponent from his or own stupidity in escalating and then attacking me.
So...THE VERY FIRST THING...a beginner should learn (as was stated here in a previous post) Is how to defend themselves using the "Martial Application" side(?) of Aikido.
Again, the gun thing is an exaggeration to emphasis the point that focus of Aikido as a Budo is crucial. I think people should stop training in hopes to best some thug on a street, instead they should train to best themselves, which IMHO is the heart of Budo.