Friday, August 02, 2013

"You have placed your safety in the hands of a minion of the law...."

East is Becoming Wild Woolly.
Armed Men Hold Up Banks.

   Washington, May 7.-A few days ago seven armed men walked into a little country bank near here, shot and killed an officer of it, locked the rest of the officers and employees in the vault and went away with $30,000 in cash and securities. No one even found out what had happened for a quarter of an hour after they had left. Detectives, policeman, constables and all the other varieties of sleuths are hot on the tracks of the bandits, but have caught nothing so far except a lot of very vague clues and a great deal of space in the newspapers.
   Three days after the above happening, seven armed men went one of the offices of the Fifth Avenue Bus Company in New York, held up 30 men, took $2,000 and escaped without leaving behind so much  a clue.

   This may or may not have the same gang. There is no special reason to suppose it was the same gang. This country is full of gangs and individuals who make an easy living by robbery and murder. Crimes like the two above narrated have become so common that we scarcely realize how common they are.
Jesse James Outdone.

   Jesse James and his brother, Frank won fame by their success as bandits during the generation following the Confederate war. We are accustomed to think of the deeds and times of the James boys as something romantically and especially criminal. Yet the James boys never did anything more bold than these two robberies, and they never got away with anything so easily. They held up a number of small country banks Western towns successfully, but they were often shot at, and members of their gang were repeatedly wounded. Finally, when they tried to rob the bank in Northfield, Minn., the citizens surrounded them, fired on them with rifles and six shooters and finally killed all of the gang but two. The James boys had a hard life compared to modern auto bandits, who make our highways unsafe and make every isolated store and bank a more or less hazardous enterprise.

   We also like to read tales of the Wild West, throughout the period from about 1860 to 1890, when the six shooter was supreme in all the great regions west of the Mississippi. Many fabulous fiction tales have been constructed about that era which cause the hair of the unsophisticated to stand on the end and make the Eastern citizen thank God that he lives in a civilized country. Yet, as a matter of fact, excepting where hostile Indians were involved, both life and property were vastly safer in the West of that day than they are in the East of this day. This you can easily ascertain for yourself if you will read, not the hair brained fiction which has been written about the early West, but the accounts actual experiences there.

   For example, a young Englishman named Bell, in 1867, accompanied the surveyors who were exploring a route for the Santa Fe railroad across the continent, and afterward wrote a book about it. He passed through New Mexico during one of its wildest epochs, when there were still a few Indians on the warpath and when there was absolutely no effective legal organization. Counties had sheriffs, who were generally highly efficient men, and sometimes a town would have a marshal. But there was no adequate policing--no guardian of the law walking his beat to prevent you from doing this or that--and the courts were an absolute farce. On the other hand, every man went armed. Nobody walked into any place and held up six men or 30 men, because he knew that every man had a gun on his person, and that he would not get away without having each and every one of them take a shot at him.
Wild West Was Safe.

   Both life and property were remarkably safe in those days, where every man went armed and knew how to shoot. There were many shootings and killings, to be sure, but these were generally quarrels between "bad" men. The individual who minded his own business was not molested. There is abundant testimony to that effect. Mr. Bell, for example, was never in any danger of his life. The only place in which he was molested in any way was in the centre of a United States military post where there were more than a thousand soldiers on hand to enforce the law. At this place, Fort Union, his horse was stolen from the stable of an officer. In Trinidad, Colorado, a typical Western town, more than half Mexican, having neither courts nor officers of the law, he reports that, both he and his property were perfectly safe. Nobody stole his horse because the good people of Trinidad made a specialty of lynching horse thieves. While he was there a miner came in from the mountains who had killed his partner about a year before. Meantime he had grown a heavy beard, and he trusted to this disguise and time to have obliterated the memory of his crime. But when he went into the saloon and began to drink, the saloon began to fill up with quiet determined, looking citizens. The miner was very quietly surrounded and disarmed. He was given an informal trial and hung to a cottonwood tree just outside the window of the room where Mr. Bell, the genteel young Englishman, was sleeping. But the only annoyance Mr. Bell ever suffered in Trinidad was that of having this corpse for a neighbor.

   Thus the social conscience was active and effective in the early West. Now and then a band of robbers was successful for a while, but it was always broken up by posses of citizens sooner or later, and nearly every robber died a sudden and violent death before many years. Most of the long hard fights in that country were over crimes, like cattle rustling, which had once been legitimate business and were slowly outlawed. After the Confederate war, the plains swarmed with unbranded cattle, and the rounding up and branding of mavericks was a good and honest business. But seen a few men owned most of the cattle, and they wanted this rustling stopped. The rustlers were a long time in seeing the errors of their ways and this war between the rustler and the capitalists cattleman was the cause of much of the fighting. It was a war, with men on each side who believed they were right.
Your Protector, the Cop.

   The fact is indisputable that in the early West, despite the sparsely settled character of the country, despite the lack of any adequate legal machinery, life, property and personal liberty were remarkably safe. And the fact is equally indisputable that in the East today, in heavily populated sections having the most elaborate system of law and law enforcement in the world, life and property are both often taken with impunity, while personal liberty is becoming a myth. The policeman may not catch the bank robber, and ofter does not, but if he sees you kiss your girl, or park your car more than five inches from the curb, or walk on a grass plot, or violate any other local ordinance, or even his own sense of propriety, he will pounce on you quickly enough.

   It is against the law to bear arms, and the custom has died out everywhere in the United States except in Texas and a few other parts of the South and West. If a man wants to shoot you down and take your bank roll, you are helpless. It is against the law for you to have any means of defending yourself. You have placed your safety in the hands of a minion of the law who in all probability can not shoot straight enough to hit a barrel at ten feet, and who is most likely at any moment engaged in the bold enterprise of ousting a spooning couple from a park bench.

[Edgefield Advertiser, Edgefield, S.C., Wednesday, May 19, 1920. Vol. 84 Pg. 7]
   Wonder if bloomberg and his fellow treasonous mayors would pay attention to the ACTUAL FACTS? Probably not, as they seem to prefer unarmed victims. You can make a sure bet that they have armed protection however....

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