Tolik, much of the difference lies in the timing of settlement out West vs here in the Northeast. In your mother and grandmother’s youth, people in the rural West weren’t that many generations removed from fighting Indians. That era ended by about the mid-1700’s here. Personal protection hasn’t been an up front and personal issue for folks in New England since the Revolutionary War. As you will come to appreciate, there still remains a great resiliency in rural New England thanks to the Puritan legacy that still lingers. They were a very hardy bunch that wrested a living from the rocky soil and cold climate, and in 1775 were the people that stood up to what was then the mightiest military on earth. Yeah we’re pretty soft these days comparatively, but I wouldn’t totally count us out.
Edited to add that my ancestors began arriving in what is now New England in 1604, the English, French & Dutch all coming in the 1600’s and the Irish & Germans in the mid-1800’s. In the past 400+ years the furthest West and the furthest South any of my ancestors came from has been Northern New Jersey, so New England runs very deep in my veins.