13 December 2013


From time to time, I find myself making connections, often without setting out to do so. This may be one of those days. Or maybe, just maybe, I am on to something.

When I was young, a classic movie, and later TV genre was the, "cowboy" or "Western." Little boys and girls all wanted, at some point in the late '40's and even into the early 1960's, to be cowboys, or cowgirls. I have been thinking of those films as the 12 month anniversary of the Newtown, CN shootings looms.

Within the general idea that all good guys wore white hats, all "Indians" spoke bad English, and all women had to be protected, Western movie producers and screen writers actually made an effort to be true to the times they portrayed. Especially the better known producers, really did make an effort. Some of the writers of the time, like for instance Louie LaMoure and Zane Grey went to significant effort to be realistic. LaMoure wrote that he made every effort to be correct, and if you read of a stream or canyon in one of his books, it was there.

If the New York Times is correct, 39 laws limiting gun magazines, making id required at gun shows, and instituting more intense background checks were passed into law in the 12 months since Newtown. 70 laws liberalizing carry rights, or deregulating other restrictions also passed. Rachel Maddow who quoted those numbers, pointed out an interesting change in momentum. In the 12 months prior to the tragic murders, no laws restricting firearms carrying or ownership had passed. How do the stories of the, "Old West" and the stats about gun law come together?

An almost obligatory scene in many Westerns was the required checking of sidearms, the classic 6-shooter, at the marshal's office. Yup, Western towns practiced gun control. A careful reading of the laws in the 19th century show that this was common practice. In other towns, on entering a saloon, the sidearms were to be checked with the bartender before ordering.

On the prarie, especially where cattle and buffalo intermingled, I have read, a side arm was important because a rider who was involved in a stampede and knocked down, might be caught in the stirup and dragged with fatal consequences. Ah but in the classic attack on the wagon train, the settlers wanted long guns which are more accurate over longer distances. The object was to keep the enemy as far away as possible.

Does this matter? I think it may. Much of the claim of our, "Second Amendment Rights" is based on the image of the settler with his guns, catching bad actors, defending his (always pretty) wife from attack, and generally being macho. The image is false. I wonder what else in the image of America's firearms culture is false?

As I have been hoping for the last several years, the uber-right wing stranglehold on the Republican party seems to be coming apart as even Speaker Boehner figures out that there is a culture of lies deeply involved in GOP politics.

2014 promises to be an interesting year. Sit back and grab a glass of whatever you like (coffee for me) and take in the show. When the Speaker qnd Mr. Ryan are calling out the corporate welfare think tanks, the is going to be some fireworks!


Anonymous said...

women should be encouraged to carry concealed. every dead rapeist saves the taxpayers. I cant undertstand why "progressives" seem to only want crimnals to be able get weapons. we cant stop violence. but we can stop delibratly makeing it EZ for rapeists and robbers. we can stop telling women they need to be dependent on a uniformed cop for protection. smart girls dont depend on men for protection.

JimB said...

Hmm... I suppose if it were likely that a substantial number of rapists might be deterred, I might grudgingly move towards your view. I f\doubt there is much empirical data suggesting that concealed carry by women reduces rape.

I am no expert, but I doubt a pistol in a woman's purse is going to help most of them. I understand that the stats on pepper spray are not suggestive.

I cannot speak for all or even most progressives, nor do I think my own views on firearms are always right. I do know that we should have some serious debate without the silly idea that the second amendment means I can buy and keep a machine gun or bazookza.

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