January 11, 2011

Little-known facts

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, during a press conference about the Tucson shootings, called Arizona "the Tombstone of the United States."

Some journalists gave the word a lowercase "t," but the sheriff was clearly referring to the infamous silver-mining town 70 miles from Tucson — site of the shootout at the OK Corral.

Ah, but that famous shootout between the Earps and the Clantons was in part due to Tombstone's strict gun laws.
the policymakers of 1880 Tombstone—and many other Western towns—were ardent supporters of gun control. When people now compare things to the "shootout at the OK Corral," they mean vigilante violence by gunfire. But this is exactly what the Tombstone town council had been trying to avoid.

In late 1880, as regional violence ratcheted up, Tombstone strengthened its existing ban on concealed weapons to outlaw the carrying of any deadly weapons within the town limits. The Earps (who were Republicans) and Doc Holliday maintained that they were acting as law officers—not citizen vigilantes—when they shot their opponents. That is to say, they were sworn officers whose jobs included enforcement of Tombstone's gun laws.

Current-day Arizona and the rest of the United States could learn a little from Tombstone's 1881 gun ordinances.
November 1881

Ordinance No. 9:
"To Provide against Carrying of Deadly Weapons" (effective April 19, 1881).

Section 1. "It is hereby declared to be unlawful for any person to carry deadly weapons, concealed or otherwise [except the same be carried openly in sight, and in the hand] within the limits of the City of Tombstone.

Section 2: This prohibition does not extend to persons immediately leaving or entering the city, who, with good faith, and within reasonable time are proceeding to deposit, or take from the place of deposit such deadly weapon.

Section 3: All fire-arms of every description, and bowie knives and dirks, are included within the prohibition of this ordinance."

Posted by Linkmeister at January 11, 2011 10:29 AM | TrackBack

Aaaand, how effective was that ordinance in actually preventing people from keeping weapons?

Posted by: Rob McMillin at January 11, 2011 11:10 AM

It wasn't just Tombstone. This from the Lawrence Journal and World, 3/7/2004:

"Dodge City — In the days when Wyatt Earp was making his name as a lawman in Dodge City, he banned guns north of the railroad tracks that ran through the frontier town, where most families lived.

Cowboys had to check their weapons at a gate or saloon, and the city imposed a $100 fine for anyone caught with a gun north of the tracks."

Posted by: hedera at January 11, 2011 11:15 AM

Rob, the Earps were enforcing those laws, and they won the shootout.

Posted by: Linkmeister at January 11, 2011 11:47 AM