GUN SENSE, GUNS, AND GUNSMOKE – Tom Curley

I can no longer count all the mass shootings in this country. We’re still into serious protesting about the February 14, 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and I’m rooting for the kids to finally get done what we have obviously failed to do.

Last November there was another mass shooting in Texas. Which was just weeks after really big mass shooting in Nevada. Which was a mere few weeks after the mass shooting in … Oh, I don’t know.

I don’t remember. Pick a state. Odds are, a mass shooting recently happened there, too.


Given the state of the state and since obviously “thoughts and prayers” don’t seem to be getting the job done, this seemed relevant. 


I can look through the posts on Serendipity over the months and years … and instead of becoming dated — because we fixed this or that — or at least moved on to a different issue, we are months and years later dealing with exactly the same stuff. Our “leaders” — such as they are — are spouting the same slogans and platitudes.

So … on the subject of guns …

I’ve been thinking about why this country is so gun crazy. The craziest of the crazies keep saying: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Now the right-wing is saying that in the case of the recent Texas shooting, apparently a good guy with a gun did chase the bad guy with a gun. The only thing they left out is he chased the guy AFTER HE KILLED 26 PEOPLE AND WOUNDED A LOT MORE!

Then it hit me. It’s our fault so many people believe this kind of thing. By “our fault,” I mean the fault of those of us who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Our heroes were cowboys. We grew up watching Westerns in which everybody, men and women alike, had guns strapped to their waists. (Dale Evans was a hell of shot. So was Annie Oakley.)

Everybody had a gun. Good guys. Bad guys. Grandma. But, the world was a lot safer in those westerns than it is now — and not because everyone had a gun. Or two. Or three.

First. The bad guys rarely — if ever — actually hit anybody at whom they shot.

Second. The good guys merely shot the guns out of the bad guys hands. They weren’t trying to kill them.

Third. Grandma just shot people in the ass. Usually with a shotgun filled with rock salt.

Okay, sometimes the good guy would need to be little more extreme, so he’d shoot the bad guy in the shoulder (or “wing em” as we used to say). But it was always just a flesh wound.

BAD GUY:OW! You shot me in the shoulder!”

GOOD GUY: “Oh stop whining. It’s just a flesh wound.”

BAD BUY: “Well if you shot me between the eyes wouldn’t that technically be a “flesh wound” too?”

GOOD GUY: “Hmm. Never thought of it that way. You know, you’re rather astute for a bad guy.”

BAD GUY: “Thank you.”

Another thing. When the bad guy used up his bullets shooting at the good guy, he’d throw the gun at him! I never understood this. Seriously. You just fired a few dozen bullets, each traveling at about 1000 feet per second, at a guy a couple of hundred feet away. You missed every shot.

What exactly do you hope to accomplish by throwing the gun at him? Bonk him on the head?

GOOD GUY: OW! What the hell?! Did you just throw your gun at me!?”

BAD GUY: “Uh, yeah.”

GOOD GUY: “Well that really hurt! Look! I’ve already got a lump! What’s wrong with you?? Why would you do that?”

BAD GUY: “I ran out of bullets.”

GOOD GUY: “And whose fault is that?! If you’re going to a gun fight, come more prepared.”

BAD GUY: “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

At this point, seeing that the bad guy doesn’t have a gun with to shoot anymore … and all the good guy was intending to do was shoot the gun out of his hand, both go home feeling oddly unfulfilled.

I don’t own a gun, but I took a gun safety course. I’ve done some target shooting. So I know guns are REUSABLE! That’s right! All you gotta do is find more bullets for Pete’s sake — and that gun’s back on the job.

FYI, don’t call them bullets. They’re cartridges. The bullet is the lead part you actually fire from the gun. (See? I told you. I took a course.)

One more thing we tend to forget about Westerns. If you went into a town that had a Sheriff, you had to leave your guns at the sheriff’s office. When you left town, you got your guns back. The Sheriff understood the only reason anyone came to town was to go to the saloon. Which, let’s face it, was a brothel with a liquor license. Letting a bunch of horny, drunken cowboys hang out in a confined space with booze, hookers, and guns is not a great idea.

Even if you were in a town where they let you keep your guns, there were rules.

1 – If two bad guys got in a fight, they at least gave everybody a few seconds to move their chairs out of the way, or jump behind the bar.

2 – If a good guy and a bad guy got into a disagreement, they would usually schedule the gunfight for the next day in the middle of town. That way, no one else got shot.

3 – They set it up for high noon.

Why high noon? Probably because it was the lunch hour. Everybody in town could come out to watch. It also made it easier for the combatants. It wasn’t always easy to get time off for a gunfight.

BAD GUY: “Hey boss? Can I get off early today? I have a gunfight at 2 o’clock.”

BAD GUY’S BOSS: “Okay, but I’ll have to dock your pay.”

BAD GUY: (Sighing) “Never mind. I’ll reschedule it for lunchtime.”

Besides, “Gunfight at Two-ish” doesn’t have the gravitas of “High Noon.” So yeah, everybody had guns in old Westerns, but they were more mature about using them. You could argue things were simpler back then. “Things were more black and white,” you say.

To this I reply: “So what? Westerns weren’t more black and white. They were completely black and white.” They didn’t go to color until the mid-sixties.

These days, everything contains infinitely more shades of gray. With a whole lot of color thrown in.

NOT KILLING THE PHEASANT – Marilyn Armstrong

We had a rifle. It was my first husband’s rifle. It took just one bullet at a time since it was really a competition rifle. It wasn’t intended to do anything but hit targets. Paper targets.

It was a very pretty gun, though and my son still has it. He keeps it clean and oiled, but I don’t think it has been loaded in more than 20 year. Maybe more.

One of my last photos developed in the darkroom, the wood-stove in the camp in Maine

We used to take that rifle with us up to Maine where we went camping. We didn’t build the site. It belonged to a friend of my husband’s parents. It was a big, open one room cabin with six beds stacked up on one wall with ladders to get to the upper ones.

There was an old Home Atlantic wood stove that was the absolutely easiest and most effective wood stove I’ve ever used. There was a gas range and gas lamps. No electricity when we were there, though it did arrive later and along with it, came pollution as people emptied their washing machines into the lake. All that grey water ended up killing many of the large mouthed bass and driving away the loons.

But this was before electricity, when everyone lived quietly without loud music and no washing machines. We did have a weather radio that ran on batteries.

One day, it was time to “go hunting.” This meant taking the rifle and a handful of bullets. Nailing a paper plate to a fir-tree, then killing the paper plate. And there we were, killing that plate deader than dead.

Along came the pheasant. He walked slowly up to the tree where we had nailed the target plate. He stood there. And waited.

A long argument ensued. Should we shoot the pheasant? We could eat it, right? Except no one had any idea how to clean a pheasant. Or even pluck one. And what if we shot it, but it didn’t die? Would someone be willing to shoot it again?

No one was willing to shoot it in the first place, much less twice.

My version of caged birds

Another long consultation. After which, we all got together and virtually pushed the stupid pheasant into the woods. He didn’t want to go. For some reason — you’d have to ask the pheasant what he was thinking — he wanted to hang out with us. We were, apparently, more interesting than his usual crowd.

When finally we convinced him to go away and please, don’t come back, we packed up the gun, gave up on targets, picked a few more blueberries and had fresh corn and blueberry pancakes for dinner.

No pheasant that night — or any other night. Just not our thing.

And this is why arming teachers to shoot the guys with assault weapons is such an incredibly stupid idea. I bet none of the teachers could shoot the pheasant either.

See it on Sue Vincent’s site!

OF COURSE WE CAN REGULATE GUNS – JUST LIKE OTHER COUNTRIES

From 2 years ago, February 2015. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.


I’ve been listening to arguments against gun control since I was a kid. As a child, I didn’t understand why anyone would object to sensible gun regulations.

I mean, Wyatt Earp did it in Tombstone. Should we be doing less in Boston or Austin?

ColtSAA04

YOU NEED A LICENSE FOR THAT

Virtually every aspect of our lives are regulated.

Without a license, you can’t cut hair or sell insurance. Drive a car. Most places, you need a license to build an extension on your house, change the wiring, remodel your kitchen, or replace your roof. You need a license for your dog. A permit to hold a parade. Or sell booze.

So what’s the big deal? Why are guns different? We control and limit more or less everything, so why are guns off-limit? The answer is obvious. They aren’t, not really. What makes guns off limit isn’t the Constitution. It’s a powerful lobby group that has caused generations of politicians to fear for their congressional seats.

To me, it’s simple and obvious. If you can’t hold a scissors in a barber shop without a license, you should not be allowed to carry a loaded rifle in Walmart without requiring at least as much accountability.

The arguments against sensible gun control are specious. Stupid. If can’t drive drunk, how come you can walk around drunk — with a gun? I would never limit anyone’s right to own a car without good reason. Like bad eyesight. Driving under the influence. Lack of insurance. A flunked driving test. Surely we should require at least this much oversight for guns.

A COMMONSENSE GUN CONTROL PLAN

If you want to own guns, you have to pass a licensing test which makes sure you know how to shoot and care for weapons. You are obligated to keep it out of the wrong hands. Your eyesight should be good enough to hit a target. You need to pass a background check to show you aren’t a felon. Or nuts.

You have to register your guns. All of them. You are obligated to keep track of your guns, to know where each of them is. You may not lend them to anyone who is unlicensed any more than you can loan your car to an unlicensed and/or uninsured driver.

If your gun is lost or stolen, you absolutely must report it to the cops. None of that “Gee, I guess it must have been stolen” crap. You will carry liability insurance on every weapon. Should a weapon registered to you be used in an illegal act — with or without your consent — you are responsible for damages. If you don’t go to jail, you will still pay. As you should.

The nation, as well as individual states and counties can tax your weapons and refuse to license weapons deemed inappropriate for private owners. If you want a weapon deemed unsuitable, you will have to get a different license, not to mention explain why you need it.

Simple, isn’t it?

auto inspection sticker texas

LICENSE AND REGISTRATION, PLEASE

We license cars because cars are potentially dangerous. Which doesn’t mean we don’t own cars. Obviously we own millions of them. We try to control who drives while maintaining reasonably accurate records of who owns what. We can’t keep every drunk off the road, stop cars from being stolen, or prevent accidents.

We do the best we can. For the most part, the system works. It would work for guns, too. Equally well, equally badly. Imperfect, but a lot better than the nothing we have in place now.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument against such a plan — probably because there isn’t any. Any reasonable person can understand we need to regulate guns. Like everything else.

STAYING SAFE ACCORDING TO THE NRA

What a shock! The best that our government could offer to Parkland were … you guessed it … thoughts and prayers and of course “it’s too soon to make decisions when we’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

We know what happened. We always know what happened.

2018 mass shooting in the U.S. — and it is only the middle of February

How many answers do you need? A school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead and another 14 wounded in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday. To no ones surprise, he used a military-style AR-15 semi-automatic machine gun. We don’t call them machine guns anymore. We have fancier names, but that’s what they are. Of course, rather than examine the gun issue, the spotlight is on Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who admitted the shooting.

It was interesting watching Wolf Blitzer try everything to pin Florida’s slippery governor to agreeing that in a state where an 18-year-old can’t buy a legal beer or a handgun, he can buy an AR-15. If you have a really dark sense of humor, you could enjoy the wriggling of the governor trying to find any possible way to say he was going to protect the kids, but not get rid of  the law that allows a troubled 18-year old to buy an AR-15. Because, well, y’know, there’s a second amendment. Moreover, we wouldn’t want to upset gun manufacturers or the NRA. They donate lots of money to politicians and money talks. In fact, ONLY money talks.

A rack of weapons of the same general type as the AR-15 rifle that the Broward Sheriff’s Office said was used in Wednesday’s mass shooting. Sue Ogrocki AP

It doesn’t matter how many kids get killed every year. Or how many adults and toddlers. The real, key issue is that gun manufacturers need to have the right to sell guns to everyone, mentally ill or nominally sane and the younger, the better.

And even though I would love to lay all the blame on our current administration, this problem has been with us a very long time. No president or congress in my lifetime has been willing to brace the NRA or give up all that money the NRA gives to candidates.  The Republicans are even worse having managed to eliminate what few laws we had and then acting like these killings are some kind of mystery. Like we don’t know that the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for those who prefer killing many people quickly.

And here we are. Again.

In Florida, almost any adult can buy a rifle so long as he or she is not a convicted felon — or unless he or she has a medical marijuana card. Because as we all know, marijuana is the drug of mass violence and overeating on chocolate cookies.

Most guns used in mass shootings across the United States were legally obtained — sometimes by the shooter, or from a family member who had  a gun permit. You should know that all of the deadliest mass shootings in this country involved an AR-15 or similar weapon. ALL of them. Every single one.

Don’t worry. The NRA is safe!

It is very difficult for me to find anything amusing about this, or find any way to excuse anyone for failing to change the laws to protect lives. Every other “first world” country has banned guns and they have as a result a hugely reduced rate of gun violence. No matter what nonsense the gun lobby spouts, the reality is incredibly simple. Limit the purchase and use of guns and gun violence goes away too.

But of course, it won’t happen. It has never happened. It doesn’t matter how many kids we slaughter. We will keep selling as many guns as the market will bear until we are all mentally and emotionally completely numb. Beyond anger and mentally dead.

I’m pretty close to that already.

REACTING, REACTIONARIES AND RIDICULOUSNESS – BY TOM CURLEY

I went to work yesterday. It’s something I don’t do much anymore. I retired a few years ago, so I work part-time. This year, I’ve only worked five days out of the whole year. I’m a director for CBS News in New York City and work at the CBS Broadcast Center. It’s a big place. Takes up an entire city block.

I’ve worked there for more than 40 years. These days, I work less and less. Increasingly, I’ve noticed how things have changed at CBS. Not for the better. A few months back I came into work and noticed this billboard in the lobby.

Yeah, we have to point out the obvious these days. But yesterday I noticed this as I was leaving the men’s room.

THE MEN’S ROOM. I went to a few other men’s rooms. They all had deadbolts on the inside, too.


This is the world we live in these days.


A while back I read a story about how a mother went into their bathroom. Her pre-school daughter was standing on the toilet seat. It was so cute she took a picture of it.

Then she asked her daughter why she was doing that. You know what she said? She said she was practicing because that is what you are supposed to do at school when the shooters come.


This is the world we live in today.


Every time there is a mass murder in this country, stocks in gun companies go through the roof. Why? Gun nuts are afraid that we are going to pass gun legislation and they have to collect all the guns they can while they last. This, despite the fact that our government has NEVER EVER passed any kind of realistic gun control laws. Nor is there any indication they ever will.


This is the world we live in today.


CBS has a reputation for overreacting to things. Especially terrorist types of things. After the attack on Charlie Hedbo in Paris, they put electronic locks on every door in the Broadcast Center. Except the bathrooms. For any other room, you needed a coded key card. Even to get into your own office — or anywhere else, for that matter.

My office.

This is the world we live in today.


At this point, I have to confess that I’m a little disappointed in myself with this particular post. I usually try to see the humor in the insanity of the world we live in today. But I’m not coming up with anything this time.

Instead I’ll tell you a story. A true story. It happened a long time ago. It’s sort of related. It turns out that CBS has a long history of being worried about terrorism. In the late 70’s I was an engineer for WCBS-FM in New York.

WCBS-FM was famous for creating the “Oldies” format. They are still using it to this day.

That was a great job. I spent 8 hours or more every day playing rock and roll music. The job didn’t suck.

Our General Manager, as it turned out, was ahead of his time. He had a bit of an obsession with terrorists. Back then, there weren’t many terrorist attacks. There was the Munich attack at the 1972 Olympics, but really nothing in America. None the less, our GM was convinced terrorists might attack WCBS-FM. Why?

Nobody knew. Too much Chuck Berry? Not enough Chuck Berry? Didn’t they know they could just call the request line?

Who knows?

Anyway, he instructed our Chief Engineer, a great guy named Torchy, to install a big button on the central equipment rack in our control room.

If you pushed the button, it would shut down the transmitter located at the top of the Empire State Building.Apparently, the scenario he envisioned was as the terrorists broke into the control room and shot me in the back, I would reach up with my blood-stained hand. Using my last breath on Earth, I would push the button and deny the terrorists any more Chuck Berry.

Give me more Chuck Berry!

Torchy explained to the GM how this was illegal. Back then, you needed what was called an FCC First Class License to operate a transmitter. Not everybody in the control room had one. The GM ordered Torchy to do it anyway. So, he did. There it was. A big button right in the middle of the control room.

Now, you have to understand: I was an engineer. My job was — literally — pushing buttons. I wanted to push that button. I really, really wanted to push the button. But, of course, I couldn’t. If I pushed it, I’d take a multi-million-dollar radio station off the air. This would have been frowned upon. So, for more than two years I lived with the button. That God-Damned, untouched button.

Then it happened.

It was Sunday night around 3 AM. I was working the overnight shift. Probably obvious, in that I was there at 3 AM. The private tech phone rang. Which was unusual because I was the only technical person there. Hell, I was the only person there. I answered it. A voice at the other end said he was the engineer on duty over at the transmitter at the Empire State Building.

He said, “Do you guys have a kill button for the transmitter over there?” I said yes, we do. He said, “press it.” I said I couldn’t do that. It would take us off the air.

He then said “Oh for Christ’s sake. Just push the fucking button.” And there it was. I was gonna get to push the button! The forbidden button. The only one I never pushed. I relished the moment. I reached up, and  I pushed the button

The engineer said “Yeah, I didn’t think the thing actually worked.” And then, he hung up the phone.

I was in shock. I went behind the rack and looked at the back of the button.  There were no wires hooked up to it! The next day I told Torchy about what happened. He said “I told the GM it was illegal. He wanted a button, so I gave him a button. I knew nobody would ever test it.”

True story. Really happened.

Those were the days. No deadbolts on bathroom doors. Little girls didn’t stand on toilet seats. Big buttons which didn’t do anything solved our problems.


That was the world we lived in back then.


THEN THERE WERE SEVEN – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Deep in our mid-November funk, last night we watched a very dark “Longmire” episode. I told Marilyn I was depressed. Looking out at the bleak night sky, Marilyn also said she was depressed too. What to do? As the furry kids played their late night version of “Spartacus.” I grew desperate. No booze. No opiates. No sniffing glue.

How to deal with the blahs?

Marilyn: “Let’s watch ‘Tombstone‘ again.” By Jove, that was the ticket!

We watched, like kids from the “I like Ike” generation. We enjoyed the violence. We smiled as Kurt Russell yelled, “And hell’s comin’ with me, You cur!! Tell ’em! Hell’s comin’ with me.” I thought that would make a nice clip to send to the White House squatter.

But we weren’t satisfied. As narrator Robert Mitchum said, ” … and Tom Mix wept” while the film segued into its end credits, we needed another Rx for the blues. Quicker than bandits raiding a small Mexican village, I put another DVD in the slot. Within seconds, the familiar theme began and we settled back. More smiles.

I decided to keep tabs on how many of Calvera’s original gang of forty thieves were killed by the seven (magnificent) gun temps.

I counted fourteen dead, including those knifed or axed by the villagers in the first fight after Calvera laments, plus the two who were shot while scouting the village.

“Generosity, that was my first mistake.” Calvera had a point.

Tough!  That left him with 24 banditos — without green cards.

Fast forward to the last scene where the magnificent seven gun temps return for the final battle. Four of the good guns go down. Harry, Lee (sorely chaffing his lips as he fatally falls against a brick wall), Brit, with knife neatly left as a souvenir. Bernardo O’Reilly, shot as the nagging village brats divert his attention.  I counted another twenty hombres sans bodges — MUERTE!!

That left six — siete — by my tally. Calvera’s original forty were now six.

Six bad hombres versus three good guys!!

Got it? Get it?? Good!

After Chris fatally shoots Calvera  –“You came BACK! A man like YOU!  To a place like THIS! … WHY??” — Calvera expires and another eight Mexican banditos are wiped out, the garlic breath nearly choking Chris who seemingly wanted to kiss the bandito Jefe goodbye. Professional courtesy?

Calvera’s gang is now minus two as the villagers and the old man say adios to Chico, Chris, and Vin.

Chico, realizing the hot village girl is better company than Chris and Vin, rides back to the village to resume life as a grungy farmer. Chris, realizing how lonely life will be with just Vin to share the campfire, says “The old man was right.  Only the farmers won. We lost. We’ll always lose.”

A poignant moment with Vin upstaging Chris while twirling his saddle reins. Truly poignant.  Calvera and his minus two gang are buried. Chris and Vin drift off, searching for a sequel.

(Music up full.)

A Mirisch Brothers Production — from United Artists.

GUNS, GUN SENSE, AND GUNSMOKE – BY TOM CURLEY

A few days ago there was another mass shooting in Texas. Just weeks after the mass shooting in Nevada, which was a few weeks after the mass shooting in … I don’t know. I don’t remember. Pick a state. Odds are, one happened there.

Given the state of the state, this seemed pretty relevant. I can look through the posts on Serendipity over the months and years … and instead of becoming dated — because we fixed this or that — or at least moved on to a different issue, we are months and years later dealing with exactly the same stuff. Our “leaders” — such as they are — are spouting the same slogans and platitudes. So … on the subject of guns …

From March 2016 …


I’ve been thinking about why this country is so gun crazy. The craziest of the crazies keep saying: “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Now the right-wing is saying that in the case of the recent Texas shooting, apparently a good guy with a gun did chase the bad guy with a gun. The only thing they left out is he chased the guy AFTER HE KILLED 26 PEOPLE AND WOUNDED A LOT MORE!

Then it hit me. It’s our fault so many people believe this kind of thing. By “our fault,” I mean the fault of those of us who grew up in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Our heroes were cowboys. We grew up watching Westerns in which everybody, men and women alike, had guns strapped to their waists. (Dale Evans was a hell of shot. So was Annie Oakley.)

 

Everybody had a gun. Good guys. Bad guys. Grandma. But, the world was a lot safer in those westerns than it is now — and not because everyone had a gun. Or two. Or three.

First. The bad guys rarely — if ever — actually hit anybody at whom they shot.

Second. The good guys merely shot the guns out of the bad guys hands. They weren’t trying to kill them.

Third. Grandma just shot people in the ass. Usually with a shotgun filled with rock salt.

Okay, sometimes the good guy would need to be little more extreme, so he’d shoot the bad guy in the shoulder (or “wing em” as we used to say). But it was always just a flesh wound.

BAD GUY:OW! You shot me in the shoulder!”

GOOD GUY: “Oh stop whining. It’s just a flesh wound.”

BAD BUY: “Well if you shot me between the eyes wouldn’t that technically be a “flesh wound” too?”

GOOD GUY: “Hmm. Never thought of it that way. You know, you’re rather astute for a bad guy.”

BAD GUY: “Thank you.”

Another thing. When the bad guy used up his bullets shooting at the good guy, he’d throw the gun at him! I never understood this. Seriously. You just fired a few dozen bullets, each traveling at about 1000 feet per second, at a guy a couple of hundred feet away. You missed every shot.

What exactly do you hope to accomplish by throwing the gun at him? Bonk him on the head?

GOOD GUY:OW! What the hell?! Did you just throw your gun at me!?”

BAD GUY: “Uh, yeah.”

GOOD GUY: “Well that really hurt! Look! I’ve already got a lump! What’s wrong with you?? Why would you do that?”

BAD GUY: “I ran out of bullets.”

GOOD GUY: “And whose fault is that?! If you’re going to a gun fight, come more prepared.”

BAD GUY: “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

At this point, seeing that the bad guy doesn’t have a gun with to shoot anymore … and all the good guy was intending to do was shoot the gun out of his hand, both go home feeling oddly unfulfilled.

I don’t own a gun, but I took a gun safety course. I’ve done some target shooting. So I know guns are REUSABLE! That’s right! All you gotta do is find more bullets for Pete’s sake — and that gun’s back on the job.

FYI, don’t call them bullets. They’re cartridges. The bullet is the lead part you actually fire from the gun. (See? I told you. I took a course.)

One more thing we tend to forget about Westerns. If you went into a town that had a Sheriff, you had to leave your guns at the sheriff’s office. When you left town, you got your guns back. The Sheriff understood the only reason anyone came to town was to go to the saloon. Which, let’s face it, was a brothel with a liquor license. Letting a bunch of horny, drunken cowboys hang out in a confined space with booze, hookers, and guns is not a great idea.

Even if you were in a town where they let you keep your guns, there were rules.

  1. If two bad guys got in a fight, they at least gave everybody a few seconds to move their chairs out of the way, or jump behind the bar.
  2. If a good guy and a bad guy got into a disagreement, they would usually schedule the gunfight for the next day in the middle of town. That way, no one else got shot.
  3. They set it up for high noon.

Why high noon? Probably because it was the lunch hour. Everybody in town could come out to watch. It also made it easier for the combatants. It wasn’t always easy to get time off for a gunfight.

BAD GUY: “Hey boss? Can I get off early today? I have a gunfight at 2 o’clock.”

BAD GUY’S BOSS: “Okay, but I’ll have to dock your pay.”

BAD GUY: (Sighing) “Never mind. I’ll reschedule it for lunchtime.”

Besides, “Gunfight at Two-ish” doesn’t have the gravitas of “High Noon.” So yeah, everybody had guns in old Westerns, but they were more mature about using them. You could argue things were simpler back then. “Things were more black and white,” you say.

To this I reply: “So what? Westerns weren’t more black and white. They were completely black and white.” They didn’t go to color until the mid-sixties.

These days, everything contains infinitely more shades of gray. With a whole lot of color thrown in.