The Wild West Had Gun Laws, and So Should We

It's time for 'commonsense restrictions'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2011 1:33 PM CST
Portrait of American lawman and gunfighter Wyatt Earp (1848 - 1929), late 1800s   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Following Saturday’s tragic shootings, the Pima County sheriff referred to Arizona as “the Tombstone of the United States,” a clear reference to the silver-mining town that played host to the OK Corral shootout some 130 years ago. "The irony of (his) remark," writes Katherine Benton-Cohen on Politico, “is that Tombstone lawmakers in the 1880s did more to combat gun violence than the Arizona government does today. For all the talk of the ‘Wild West,’ the policymakers of 1880 Tombstone—and many other Western towns—were ardent supporters of gun control.”

In fact, when they engaged in the shootout, the Earps and Doc Holliday were law officers enforcing Tombstone’s gun laws—which included a ban on concealed weapons. Today, not only can Arizonans purchase guns without licenses, they can also carry concealed weapons without permits. “Even the Tombstone town council of 1880 realized that some people with guns have intent to kill—and that reasonable laws could help stop them," Benton-Cohen concludes. (Jared Loughner, especially, shouldn't have been allowed to own a gun, considering he was suspended from college due to mental problems—click for Nathan Thornburgh's entire piece on that, in Time.)

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