The gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in 1881. It remains among the most famous incidents of the old west. You’d have to go some to top it and it was mostly about gun control.
When the Earps moved to Tombstone, Arizona, they faced a problem that was not uncommon in the so-called “boomtowns” or”cowtowns.” Cowboys, armed to the teeth, would ride into town to hit the bars, visit the brothels and generally get drunk and shake the trail dust from their boots. Groups of heavily armed drunks roaming the streets was an obvious formula for trouble, and so, the City of Tombstone drew up an ordinance banning the carrying of firearms inside city limits. That ban, was ostensibly the reason for the gunfight, after Marshal Virgil Earp, decided to disarm a group of cowboys at the O.K. Corral. It wasn’t the only reason. The Clantons, McLaurys and the rest of the “Cowboys” gang had been trading barbs with the Earps and Doc Holiday for several weeks before the shooting started, so it was definitely personal. Beyond that, it appears that at least some of the Cowboys had refused to give up their weapons while inside city limits in the past and continued to do so. And so the ban on carrying gave the Earps legal justification for going after Clanton and company at the O.K. Corral.
Fast forward to December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A single gunman kills 20 kids and 6 adult staff members.
A year later, the British newspaper, “The Telegraph” reports, “Massacres like the one that killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School a year ago are rare, but there have been 23 mass-shootings in the US since.”
And now, fast forward to Isla vista, California, Friday, May 23, 2014. Seven are dead and thirteen injured as a lone gunman, armed with three semi-automatic pistols, goes on a shooting spree near the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to a Washington Post – ABC News Poll, nine in ten Americans want expanded background checks on gun purchases. The bill failed to pass the U.S. Senate by six votes. Who is running the government? The NRA? The National Rifle Association has around 2-million “most active” members. There are 317-million of us in the United States and 90% of of us want expanded background checks. The obvious and transparent fact that our elected leaders in Washington continue bowing to the demands of minority special interest groups as opposed to the will of the majority is an indicator of just how broken and unrepresentative our federal government continues to be. Unfortunately the governmental dysfunctionalism radiates out into the states.
Not long ago, the Governor of Georgia, signed a bill which, Time Magazine reports, “…allows licensed owners to carry guns in more public locations than ever before.” Places like bars, airports and schools.
How will you feel when somebody shows up at your kid’s ballgame carrying a firearm and bragging, “See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there’s nothing you can do about it.” In Georgia, frightened parents canceled the ballgame and hustled their kids away from the ballpark.
There’s a vast difference between banning the carrying of firearms inside city limits, and banning ownership. Nevertheless, more than 130 years later, as the nation grows increasingly weary of gun violence, one wonders what Wyatt and Virgil Earp might say to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and his new open carry law, taking us back into the mid-1800’s, before open carry was banned in Tombstone.