(Tombstone Epitaph, Arizona Territory – September, 1881, Edition)
Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp, with brothers Wyatt and Morgan, expressed outrage about a recent Tombstone gathering featuring a National Rifle Association rep. The organization was chartered last decade in New York.
“Cowboy-outlaws from all over the West,” Virgil Earp fumed, “joined the Clanton and McLaury Brothers and Billy Claiborne to defy Tombstone’s ordinance prohibiting carrying weapons in town. That’s not OK.”
So-called rancher Ike Clanton declared the new law violated the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, which the N.R.A. organizer allegedly preached: “He says anybody can pack weapons of choice in these Unity States, even in this godforsaken Territory.”
Straight shooter Wyatt Earp claimed Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan, who he brands a “puppet of Tombstone Nugget publisher Harry Woods,” is “in cahoots with the Cochise County Cowboys,” his derogatory term for what he labels the “Clantons and fellow scofflaws.”
His brother, he says, hopes to corral “the local cattle thieves,” while keeping other outlaws away.
Earps’ friend Doc Holliday grumbled that he heard “the illicit assembly” included notorious gunslingers Johnny Ringo, Pony Diehl, “Indian Charlie” Cruz, Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Barnes, and “Little Dick” West,” The colorful Holliday added, “Bill Doolin, Black Bart, Bronco Sue, Belle Starr, Candy Dan Bogan, Jesse James, and other nefarious characters were supposedly telegraphed, or otherwise invited. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Billy the Kid emerged from his New Mexico grave to attend.”
“I feared they’d overrun civic buildings,” Holliday harrumphed. “They probably flaunted Gatling guns and explosives for their N.R.A. New Yorker.”
Tombstone’s recently elected first Mayor, John Clum, publisher of this august newspaper, also organized a “Committee of Safety” in Tombstone after law-abiding citizens and businesses demanded the weapons-prohibition law to prevent gun violence in this silver-rich,
booming city of 7000.
The Cowboys bellyached about its formation too.
Ike Clanton, labeled the committee as “a conspiracy of business owners with bastards like the Earps, who pretend to uphold the law but run houses of ill-repute and do other dastardly things.” A common rant of this conspiracy theorist, who famously claims the last two national
elections were stolen, is, “The Earps are probably pedophiles too.”
Billy Clanton recited a litany of what he called “Earp’s villainous-vigilantes”: “Sherman McMaster, ‘Turkey Creek’ Johnson, ‘Hairlip Charlie’ Smith, ‘Tip’ Tipton, and ‘Texas Jack’ Vermillion.” He concluded, “Them carrying weapons, while others supposedly can’t, drives freedom-loving customers to drink, whether at the Oriental or Hafford Saloons, or the Grand
Both Clantons profess the Epitaph prints “fake news”; not true, except when quoting them.
Countering outlaws and the N.R.A,’s assertion that Tombstone’s no-carry weapons law defies our country’s Constitution, Mayor Clum quotes a Texas Deputy Sheriff from remote Uvalde County, which deals with gun violence as a way of life.
John King “Fisher,” along with fellow lawmen like “Bat” Masterson and Pat Garrett, notes the 2 nd amendment begins, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” Clum concludes, “They’re right. A legitimate militia such as the ‘Committee of Safety’ can be the sole, legal bearer of arms in a municipality to provide a local and national guard.”
Current New Mexico Territorial Governor Lionel Shelton, appointed by President James Garfield this year, took office with the avowed priority of “organizing and strengthening the militia.”
Since current Arizona Territory Governor John C. Fremont chooses to remain at his New York home, Shelton’s stance bleeds over to our Territory, as it did before the Arizona Territory was splintered off in 1863.
Prior New Mexico Territory Governor Lew Wallace, with his book Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ just published, had also been appointed, in his case by Chester Arthur, “to prevent lawlessness.”
All three governors surely interpreted the right to bear arms without any restriction as designated solely to a lawfully constituted militia — deputies, sheriffs, marshals, the military, and the “Committee of Safety.”
President Garfield, recently elected to the highest office of the land, was himself a victim of gun violence, shot on July 2 and pronounced dead this week.
The unidentified New York rep allegedly paid a visit to Spangenberg’s local gun shop.
Mr. Spangenberg, a blustery capitalist of German heritage, who drops outrageous daily pronouncements to his customers, stated the rep told him the N.R.A. was primarily focused upon sportsmen, hunters, and target shooters. Spangenberg, a noted truth-bender, chuckled when relating that his visitor downplayed his organization’s interest in gun control laws.
Local meeting attendees, however, didn’t mince words. Johnny Ringo boasted, “Americans have every right to carry Winchesters, Colt revolvers, double barreled shotguns, gatling guns, or other arms. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that, or some businessmen turned politician to try stopping me.”
Clum disagrees: “Could any rational man think our forefathers intended this sophisticated weaponry for everybody? In the Revolution, they used muskets and flintlock pistols and rifles. In fact, colonial militia weapons, funded by local governments, fittingly were dubbed ‘Committee
of Safety’ muskets.”
Mayor Clum fears things will soon get worse: “An English gun designer named Maxim thinks he’s close to patenting a fully automatic weapon, utilizing the fired projectile’s recoil force to reload the gun. Another firearm technology escalation the N.R.A. will probably champion.”
Wyatt Earp shook his head when hearing Clum’s dire warning: “Can you imagine the day when bad guys carry automatic weapons freely on the streets of towns like Tombstone? I hope I’m long buried in Boot Hill before America sees that.”