Friday, July 20, 2007

"Glorioski But We Sure Don't Want It To Be Like The Wild Wild West!" Cherry Valley Police Chief Gary Maitland

Myth No. 7: Killings and other violent crimes were prevalent in the Old West because guns were so plentiful.

There was violence along the frontiers, but most of it was related to clashes with Indians, bandits or foreign nations. There was not a great deal of "ordinary" crime. From 1870 to 1885, the era of the Wild West when "everybody wore a gun," arrest rates per 100 residents were much lower in the West than in eastern cities.53 Moreover, "the Western frontier was a far more civilized, more peaceful, and safer place than American society istoday."54 Contrary to the impression left by movies and Western novels, crime and homicides were rare. For example:55

• In 1880, wide-open towns like Virginia City, Nev., Leadville, Colo., and Dallas had no homicides.

• By comparison, Cincinnati had 17 homicides that year.

• From 1870 to 1885, the five Kansas railheads of Abilene, Caldwell, Dodge City, Ellsworth and Wichita had a total of 45 homicides, or an average of three per year - a lower homicide rate than New York City, Baltimore and Boston.56

• Sixteen of the 45 homicides were committed by duly authorized peace officers, and only two towns " Ellsworth in 1873 and Dodge City in 1876 " ever had as many as five killings in any one year.57

But of course you do not. The Wild-Wild West was in fact a quite peaceful assemblage of frontiersmen who respected and upheld the law. If your town bore even a passing resemblance, Chief, you'd be out of a job.

Tune into The War on Guns for the full magilla.

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