We pulled into Quartzite, AZ a little before 3:00 PM, a total of 1419-miles so far. Tomorrow at this time we hope to be safe and sound at Orangeland RV Park in Orange, CA, a little over 200-miles from Quartzite.
Today’s drive was very similar to yesterday except we saw a lot more people today because I-10 took us through Tucson and Phoenix. Still, it was mostly desert. There was nothing to look at. Then I noticed an exit sign for “311th Avenue” out in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing to be seen anywhere. Fifteen or twenty miles further down the road I passed another exit sign. This one read, “449th Avenue.” The only things visible from horizon to horizon were cacti and mountains. There was no municipality in any direction for many, many miles. Go figure. Another sign that made me smile was one for “Sore Finger Road.” I would love to know the origin of the name.
I would also like to let the reader know that it is not all downhill from the Continental Divide as one might think it should be. There were still hills and mountains to climb after we crossed it. Our gasoline-powered motorhome actually did an excellent job on the hills. But once it built up speed and momentum you didn’t want anything to get in your way that would make you ease up on the accelerator. I actually passed seven diesel-powered motorhomes today and had only one pass me. It was a Prevost, which probably cost twenty or more times what mine cost, so I didn’t mind.
We passed a billboard advertising “gunfights” in Tombstone, AZ. We visited Tombstone a few years ago and once was enough. “Gunfights” are the big draw in Tombstone and are performed throughout the day. The OK Corral had been walled in to prevent prying eyes from witnessing the re-enactment of the famous gunfight without paying admission.
I’ll let you in on a bit of little known trivia about the famous gunfight between the Earps and the group known as the “Cowboys.” It didn’t occur in the OK Corral. It actually took place in a back alley. An interesting bit of history is also the reason why the gunfight happened in the first place. City Marshal Virgil Earp and his brother Wyatt were simply enforcing the town’s Ordinance No. 9, entitled, “To Provide against Carrying of Deadly Weapons” (effective April 19, 1881). It read in part, “It is hereby declared unlawful to carry in the hand or upon the person or otherwise any deadly weapon within the limits of said city of Tombstone, without first obtaining a permit in writing.” Earlier in the day a judge had fined one of the “Cowboys” $25 for refusing to turnover his firearm. Ordinance No. 9 remained in effect until the 1980’s.
Since I have managed to segue into “Gun Control,” why don’t I continue to enlighten the reader with some interesting facts. The first gun control law on the books in the colonies was in 1686. New Jersey barred the wearing of concealed weapons in public because, according to the law, “it induced great Fear and Quarrels.” In 1837, Georgia made it illegal “to see or to keep or have about their persons” pistols or other listed weapons. Its stated purpose was “to guard and protect the citizens of this State against the unwarrantable and too prevalent use of deadly weapons.” In 1852 a law was passed in Washington, DC to prevent exhibiting weapons listed in the bill “in a rude, angry or threatening manner.”
Gun control in the Wild West was a lot stricter that most people realize. Towns like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge City had the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation in an effort to control the violence. In the 1800’s, most frontier towns barred anyone but law enforcement from carrying guns in public. Most towns required guns to be checked upon entering the town. The town livery stable was a common place for guns to be checked. The livery stable was the equivalent of the modern day parking garage. Most cowboys riding into town would leave their horses at the livery stable and it made sense to have them check their guns there also. Other towns required guns to be checked in at the local Sheriff’s or Marshal’s office.
By the 1880’s most towns in the Old West had decided that gun control was necessary and implemented total bans of the carrying of pistols. Publications from the days of the Wild West show city leaders arguing in favor of gun control. They knew from experience that a town which allowed easy access to guns was inviting trouble. They argued that more guns in more places caused not greater safety, but greater death. The editor of the Black Hills Daily Times of Dakota Territory in 1884, called the idea of carrying firearms into the city a “dangerous practice,” not only to others, but to the carrier himself. The editor underscored his point with the headline, “Perforated by His Own Pistol.” The editor of Montana’s Yellowstone Journal wrote that Americans have “the right to bear arms,” but he also thought that guns had to be regulated.
An article in Laramie’s Northwest Stock Journal in 1884 reported, “We see many cowboys fitting up for the spring and summer work. They all seem to think it absolutely necessary to have a revolver. Of all the foolish notions this is the most absurd.” By 1882, a Texas cattle raising association had banned pistols from the cowboy’s belt, saying, “In almost every section of the West murders are on the increase, and cowmen are too often the principals in the encounters.” In June, 1884, the Texas Life Stock Journal declared,” The six-shooter loaded with deadly cartridges is a dangerous companion for any man, especially if he should unfortunately be primed with whiskey. Cattlemen should unite in aiding the enforcement of the law against carrying of deadly weapons.”
Dodge City was known as the Sodom of the Plains. After residents organized the city government of Dodge City, their first law was a gun control law. It required all guns to be turned in when entering town. The law read, in part: “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to the law.” However, the death toll from gun play was increasing so much that the town fathers enacted Ordinance No. 67 in August of 1882. It specified that no one could “carry concealed or otherwise about his or her person, any pistol, bowie knife, sling shot or other dangerous or deadly weapons except County, City, or United States Officers.” The fine was raised from $25 to $100. The Dodge City Times declared, “There is disposition to do away with the carrying of firearms, and we hope the feeling will be general. The carrying of firearms is a barbarous custom, and its time the practice was broken up.”
Signs posted in Wichita, Kansas in 1873 declared, “Leave Your Revolvers At Police Headquarters and Get a Check.” A photograph taken in Dodge City in 1879 shows a large wooden billboard stating, “The carrying of Firearms Strictly Prohibited.”
Texas banned all handguns in towns in 1871. Wyoming banned all firearms from “any city, town, or village” in 1876. In 1879, Tennessee criminalized any transfer of handguns as well as their importation into the state. In 1881 Arkansas barred all handgun transfers and pistol cartridges.
In 1918 Montana enacted “An Act providing for the registration of all fire arms and weapons and regulating the sale thereof.” The law required every person within the state to file a report with the sheriff of the county in which they lived listing all fire arms and weapons owned or possessed. It also required that any sale or transfer of a weapon be reported to the sheriff.
We should be asking ourselves, “What happened over the past 100 years?”