NOTE: Tom and Ellin are off in the northland skiing for a couple of days, so you’ll have to make do with Marilyn and Garry answering comments
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.
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 necessarily 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.