Gun violence through the years

Gun violence through the years

Special to The Courier I was a big fan of weekly television shows with central characters Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and other legendary figures from the Wild West. They were all gunslingers on the right side of law and order when order often seemed as elusive as the law in the pioneering days of the Western United States. Those television shows were riding the popularity of Western movies in which the good guys always won and rode into those beautiful desert sunsets. Years later, when I was in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., I was fascinated by visiting Abilene, less than an hour’s drive west of the sprawling Army base. The town’s tourism boosters had recreated the old cow town, where sarsaparilla was the only beverage on tap in the saloon and served by pretty bar maids, and actors and stunt men staged gun battles with six-shooters firing blanks in the middle of the dirt street on weekends. Abilene was the tail end of the historically famous 1,000-mile-long Chisholm Trail, where cowboys drove large herds of cattle destined for market. Once in Abilene, the cattle were loaded on rail cars and taken to slaughter houses throughout the country. I recall the reconstructed cow town of Abilene still had a string of these cattle cars on a railroad bed. I once owned a book about Kansas gunslingers and legendary lawmen that I purchased at an Abilene tourism shop. As I recall, the author had impressive […]

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