After the recent tragedy in Virginia I got the following letter from my old friend Wyatt Earp. He was devastated by the tragedy of the situation as was everyone. He wanted to share what he thought he knew about guns and violence. He knew his time was a long time ago and wasn’t sure what he had to say still applied but after reading it I thought it was worth sharing.
As always very good to hear from you. The information you shared about Virginia was horrifying. Guns seem to always hurt the innocent. I looked at the statistics you sent me about gun violence in the United States and couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people who died were innocent people : women, children, innocent bystanders, wrong time wrong place people. I guess it is no wonder when you consider how many guns you guys have. Tombstone and Dodge City at their worst weren’t as well armed as you. You are much more wild than the wild west.
Perhaps what I have to say is dated. I know times change, but I wonder if people really do.
What I learned as a Marshall :
1. If there is a first law of guns it is that the more guns you have the more people will be shot. Regardless of what else is going on the more people will be shot. I have marshalled a lot of towns. some with a lot of guns. I never saw a town that broke the first law of guns. Larry the statistics you sent me about gun violence in different countries prove it. More guns more people shot. That simple.
2. You can’t count on the bad guys shooting the bad guys. Everybody thinks they are the good guys and the guys they are shooting deserve it. That’s why they created marshalls… To keep the peace.
3. Some people believe people need to be shot to teach them a lesson or to make an important point. I don’t know why. They just do.
4. Some things just go along with shooting people :
Wanting to be like someone you have heard about who shoots people.
Talking about shooting people a lot.
Having a history of hurting people.
Believing shooting people makes you big and bad and tough.
Feeling betrayed or embarrassed by someone you know.
Feeling like shooting someone makes you more important.
Believing guns are a source of pride and status.
Feeling like shooting someone is worth the cost, whatever it is..
Being drunk. Anything that makes an angry person have less self control makes them more likely to act out that loss of control.
Feeling like you are defending something worth defending rather or not anyone else understands it are not.
Anything that makes you think a person is less important than you.
Larry I was astonished by some of the information you sent. You are much more likely to be shot by someone you know than by a stranger for example.. Much more.
I think maybe guns are more than just tools. They are not neutral. For too many people they are a part of who they are. And guns are a way to show people they aren’t going to “take any shit” from anyone. I knew a lot of people like that in my day. Life normally didn’t go well for them.
One more thing. I am just guessing and don’t know but it sure seems like you have a very very big and very important death industry in your world. What I found out in my world is when people absolutely refuse to do something that makes so much common sense someone is getting rich or powerful by keeping things from changing. Part of getting things to change is figuring who has the most to lose from the change. Who makes the money, who keeps their power… who profits from the slaughter?
I don’t know if any of this helps. You guys have a more dangerous time than mine and you know I guess I ‘m glad I lived when I did.