Hoping for a Return to the Wild West

By Gerard Valentino

The movie Pale Rider starring Clint Eastwood is typical of old-time Westerns. For those that don’t know the story, a group of prospectors is terrorized by a greedy mining company owner that wants control of their soon to be rich mining claim.

Our villain sends armed men to terrorize the unarmed prospectors only to be stopped unexpectedly by a gun-toting preacher played by Clint Eastwood. Over the course of the movie the preacher eliminates the greedy mining company owner and his henchmen, freeing the prospectors from their tormentors.

Anti-gun groups cautioned that allowing law-abiding people the right to carry concealed weapons would be a return to the wild-west with shoot-outs over road rage incidents and in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart. A willing establishment media bought into the argument and the anti-gun movement had a rallying cry. Pro-gun groups openly attacked the notion as more and more Americans were given the right to carry and the so called wild-west did not materialize.

Taking the Pale Rider example one step further we need to be reminded that it isn’t until Clint Eastwood’s character arrives and defends the prospectors with a gun that they are freed from torment. The same is true of the law-abiding American public who for years were disarmed by the anti-gun movement and terrorized by criminals only to be rescued by concealed carry laws and the end of gun-control as we know it.

Much of what we know about the wild-west is created by movie myth and Pale Rider is just one more example of the legend. There is truth to the story however because since the dawn of time the armed have preyed on the unarmed and weak. Due to their emotional hatred of guns the anti-gun crowd refused to acknowledge that disarming citizens left them without a means of self-defense and therefore easy prey for the criminal element. Yet, with only criminals armed somehow the anti-gun movement still believed their weak-willed response to crime would undo thousands of years of history.

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Even more damaging to the safety of law-abiding citizens is that anti-gun groups were successful in passing gun control laws in cities with high crime rates. The end result was a disarmed population terrorized by armed criminals who refused to turn in their guns.

One of the most famous scenes in Pale Rider involves Clint Eastwood’s character saving a young female prospectors from a violent attack and impending rape. Once again the movie was prophetic because we now know through the studies of John Lott and Gary Kleck that when a woman uses a gun for self-defense they are four times more likely to resist successfully.

Women often carried gun in the wild-west and were empowered by their ability to do so - a fact not lost on anyone that chose to prey on them. In contrast today’s criminals came of age at a time when they could count on non-violent resistance from their victims or at worst have to deal with someone attempting to fight back with a car key between their fingers. Many criminals were no doubt empowered by the easy prey we made which reinforced their anti-social behavior.

The gun-control movement also uses their wild-west imagery to take the moral high ground in the debate over gun rights. Simply stated there is nothing moral about leaving honest people at the whim of predatory criminals. Instead, as the preacher in Pale Rider taught us it is moral and just to defend innocent people - even with a gun if necessary.

Returning to such a time when innocent people could defend their own life without interference from the police or anti-gun do-gooders only concerned with filing some emotional compulsion to confiscate guns would be a step backwards for criminals and therefore a step forward for everyone else.

A return to the so called wild-west should be welcomed by anyone not committed to furthering the safety and well being of robbers, rapists and murderers.

Gerard Valentino is the Buckeye Firearms Association Central Ohio Chair.

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