Yes, that’s right: guns did not tame the West. Guns made the West a more dangerous place. Guns made it so gunslingers could terrorize towns. Guns made it so many establishments had patrons check their guns at the door. Guns made it so sheriffs had to be replaced again and again, gangs could kill many people just to rob a bank, a train. Guns made it so such marauders had to be hunted down by other deputized gangs.
Guns did not make the West safer. And during the days of Bonnie and Clyde a lack of regulations made bank guards and tellers lives short and not so sweet.
What tamed the West, stopped the plentiful numbers of machine gun toting bank robbers from toting machine gons?
Oh, NRA, you’re going to HATE the answer: regulations, law and order. In other words: “GOV-VERN-MENT.” Yes, Butch Cassidy and Sundance were hunted down by a corporate, for profit, gang hired by a one percenter. Unlike the fun, rather colorful, movie, whether they were successful or not is a matter of which tale you believe. There was somewhat reliable testimony that Butch escaped and lived to a ripe old age.
But do we really want gangs of marauders being hunted down by gangs of corporate enforcers of: not rule of law, but what the corporations want? I’ve seen enough SciFi films to know this may not wind up being about “rule of law” at all but what suits CEOs and stockholders needs, desires, sense of corporate espionage. Blackwater was a step towards that: results being more than questionable… employees opening up on innocents near a roadblock then attempting to cover it up, employees sent on a mission in a copter where no copter should go and Blackwater attempting to cover it up, murdering blacks in New Orleans after the hurricane because they were looting while letting whites doing the same damn thing go because “they were hungry,” attempting to cover it up. Then Erik going to Congress and demanding that his people never be held accountable be put into law.
How we regulate, what we regulate, when we enforce, how we enforce are all important questions. I am stating no opinion right now regarding any of that. The purpose behind government is exactly that: protecting the law abiding people. Would businesses demand that courts that protect them from having their hard work stolen from them be disbanded, or not “enforce” fair business practices when their competitors attempt to crush them with such practices?
I think you know the answer to that.
The reason the Wild West was so “wild” is the gun and a lack of decent enforcement, or any enforcement. Perhaps one of the best examples of what I’m writing about is the cowboys v. the Earps. The Earps were not “nice people.” (Nor were the cowboys.) In fact cheating at gambling, shooting up towns, killing out of spite, murderous drunken rages… it could be argued that they, and Doc, should never have been given law enforcement power. But it did draw a line others shouldn’t cross. It did set down the law. As anti-gun regulators state so often guns kill no one. But a lack of even an attempt to control their usage, a lack of enforcing safe usage, a lack of holding people responsible by making sure they are at least carefully watched because, like gunslingers, they have proven themselves the worst people to walk the streets armed: all that helped make the West “wild.”
And those are some of the reasons gun-related crimes are on the rise. More guns make that worse. But maybe that’s what those who insist more guns will solve our problems want: people frightened, people ready to shoot those who scare them.
I don’t recommend it. I seriously doubt with all the guns, and all the artificially pumped up anger, out there it would have anything but disastrous results. But as a society if we were to start confiscating guns like some business owners did in the Wild West, I might think starting with those who keep insisting more guns would solve everything might be a good start.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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