Thursday, August 22, 2013

"The right to carry firearms has long been one of the reserved rights of the people..."

Experts at Variance.

   The points of difference between Virginia and Kentucky have been few in the past. At the time of the Revolutionary war Kentucky was a part of Virginia, and it was not until sixteen years later that she was admitted into the Union as a separate State. The two Commonwealths have much in common, as, for instance, horses, tobacco, liquid beverages, shotguns and dexterity in their use, Colonels and Majors, duels, and one of the principal causes of duels, namely, beautiful women. A possible severance of the friendly relations which have been maintained cordially for many years between the two Commonwealths is now threatened. The trouble concerns what ought to be a matter of cheerful concurrence, the carrying of firearms.

   The circumstances which have led to this inter-State difficulty are few but important. A Kentucky man, a resident of the great Blue Grass Commonwealth, was sent to jail, or, more properly, was taken to jail, for no one goes to Jail peaceably in Kentucky, for the alleged "crime" of "engaging in a fist fight in the street." When tidings of this occurrence were officially received by Governor Bradley at Frankfort, he pardoned the incarcerated Kentuckian, explaining that fist fighting, as a substitute for the usual Kentucky method of street fighting with firearms, was to be regarded with lenity, If not. Indeed, to be extolled and applauded.

   Such was the Frankfort method, sanctioned by the Governor of Kentucky, of dealing with the reprehensible, local practice, so distasteful to all tourists, of shooting pedestrians at sight in times of local disagreement in Kentucky streets or on Kentucky roadways or turnpikes. The right to carry firearms has long been one of the reserved rights of the people of Kentucky, and it has been sedulously protected in practice, too, by their Virginia neighbors on tho other side of the Cumberland Mountains. A Virginian visiting Kentucky takes his six-shooter along with him as a matter of course, just as a New York man takes a railroad guide or his visiting card case when he goes to Boston. A Kentuckian visiting Virginia generally carries along his purse and his gun, forgetting neither.

   Governor Bradley has wounded the neighborly sensibilities of the Virginians across the border, and they have not been slow in marking their disapproval. Mr. Parks of Southampton has introduced in the Virginia Legislature at Richmond what may be called a measure of reprisal. Under the present law of the Old Dominion, the minimum penalty for carrying concealed weapons is a fine of twenty dollars. Under the amendment proposed by Parks, it is reduced to two dollars and fifty cents. As it is not customary in Virginia courts to impose on white men fines less than three dollars for any offence, the practical effect of this amendment would be to abolish the penalty for carrying concealed weapons in the Old Dominion.

   Kentucky may falter. Virginia is true. The gauntlet which one State throws down the other takes up.

 [The Sun, New York, Tuesday, December 14, 1897. Vol. LXV.--No. 105. Pg. 6]

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