The Sun News’s April 13th guest editorial on gun control focused in part on the danger of deadly weapons in bars, which might become, the writer wrote, “O.K. Corrals” and South Carolina itself a kind of “Wild West.”
Having heard those metaphors often recently I wondered just what kind of gun control, if any, did a town say like the home of the original O.K. Corral: Tombstone, Ariz. With the help of Wild West historian Gary Roberts’s biography, “Doc Holliday,” I learned the following::
(1) An 1880’s Tombstone law labeled “Ordinance No. 9” forbade carrying weapons in town. The law did lessen shootings and killings, but not entirely, causing one citizen to write a letter to the San Diego Union in August of 1880, citing drinking and gambling as a cause and adding that what with “saloons thronged all night with excited and armed men, bloodshed must needs ensue occasionally.” (Roberts 124)
(2) Months later on Jan. 17, 1882 Chief of Police James Flynn, charging violation of Ordinance No. 9, disarmed Doc Holliday and John Ringo, who had squared off on Allen Street in front of the Occidental Saloon, each threatening to shoot the other. Justice A. O. Wallace fined them both $32 “for carrying deadly weapons.” (Roberts 236-238)
(3) Curiously, Roberts wrote that Chief Flynn also arrested Wyatt Earp on the same occasion, but immediately released him upon learning that Earp was in fact a federal officer and had a license to carry a pistol. (238)
All in all, an interesting glimpse of gun control in the Wild West.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach