A little over one week ago Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a new measure that permits anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun, with no license or training required, so long as that person is not prohibited by federal or state law from possessing weapons.


Ah, yes, the good old days when Dodge City, Kansas was notorious for bootlegging, bribery, and gunplay.

Kansas has but one Dodge City, with a broad expanse of territory sufficiently vast for an empire; we have only room for one Dodge City; Dodge, a synonym for all that is wild, reckless, and violent; Hell on the Plains.”

— A Kansas Newspaper in the 1870’s


Most of us are familiar with Dodge City only through the TV show Gunsmoke,  which the intrepid and unshaken Matt Dillon served as Marshal, chasing off or killing all mannner of scalawags and miscreants in order to protect Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, Festus, and all the other worthy citizens.

But, despite the stories told in 635 episodes spread over twenty TV seasons, the real Dodge City was much more both dangerous and intriguing. In the link above there is a photo gallery of the city both historically and as it exists today, its Wild West reputation maintained as a tourist trap.

The new law is both ironic in the face of Dodge City’s history and potentially tragic in that Boot Hill may need to be updated and expanded.

For the lesson of Dodge City (and Tombstone, Arizona) is that they were part of the Wild West for one main reason and are still the Wild West only for the benefits of tourists for one other main reason.

Wild? Guns

Mild? No guns.

Note the picture at the top? Those folks are the members of the Dodge City Peace Commission. You may recognize the names of some of them.

Top row, L-R  W.H. Harris, Luke Short, W.B. Bat Masterson and W.F. Petillon.

Bottom, L-R    Charles S. Basset, Wyatt S. Earp, Frank McLain, Neil Brown

Yes THAT Wyatt Earp and THAT Bat Masterson, both stars of their own TV series.

And that famous Gunfight at The OK Corral? Also starring Wyatt Earp as well as his brothers and Doc Holliday who made a notable guest appearance in Dodge where  he first met Wyatt.

Both towns  notorious for gunfights and rowdiness and both towns tamed by…ready for this…are you sure you are prepared….GUN CONTROL!

You see Earp traveled to Dodge City when the state of its character resulted in a letter to the Evening Star of Washington, D.C.

Dodge City is a wicked little town. Indeed, its character is so clearly and egregiously bad that one might conclude, were the evidence in the later times positive of its possibility, that it was marked for special Providential punishment.

And Kansas’s own Hays City Sentinel editorialized

Dodge is the Deadwood of Kansas.. Her incorporate limits are the rendezvous of all the unemployed scallawagism in seven states. Her principal business is polygamy without the sanction of religion, her code of morals is the honor of thieves, and decency she knows not.

Wyatt and his fellow commissioners to the rescue.

Intending to restore order, one of the first things the new lawmen did was to initiate a “Deadline” north of the railroad yards on Front Street to keep the commercial part of the city quiet. On the north side, the city passed an ordinance that guns could not be worn or carried. On the south side of the “deadline”, those who supported the lawlessness continued to operate as usual, with a host of saloons, brothels, and frequent gunfights. The expression “Red Light District” was coined in Dodge City when the train masters took their red caboose lanterns with them when they visited the town’s brothels. The gun-toting rule was in effect around the clock and anyone wearing a gun was immediately jailed. Soon, Dodge City’s jail was filled.


I’ll grant you the entire town was not immediately tamed. The growth of railroads into Texas which negated the need to push herds to Dodge was a major factor in change. But it is notable that at least a part of the town was peaceful after the gun ban was implemented, certainly not subject to the frequent random violence in the wanton section of town.

Likewise the entire Gunfight in Tombstone resulted from the Clantons and their cohorts defying that town’s ban on guns which were supposed to be surrendered upon entering town. They were confronted by the Earp brothers and the ubiquitous Doc Holliday. (Please now remember that the Earps were Republicans enforcing gun control.).

Another little quirk here is that one of the Clanton survivors claimed they had their hands raised in surrender…a la Michael Brown.

Whatever, the principle here is that these towns were not tamed and rendered safe for ordinary citizens until casual gun possession and use was ended. And yes, I recognize there were other elements in the taming of the West but those other elements themselves were why eliminating the open presence of guns was desirable.

Yet in Kansas it is now legal to conceal carry and in many states or localities where open carry is the rule your chances of facing a gun that, in the course of daily activity that can occasionally entail a minor confrontation, may now be escalated into a major, possibly lethal, confrontation.

So watch out honking at that driver who cuts you off in Kansas and most assuredly don’t raise your middle finger to him. And definitely be careful of accidently jostling a guy in a bar.

Matt Dillon can’t help you.

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  • Devildog  On April 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    If the Clanton survivor was a la Michael Brown, he also lied when he claimed “hands raised in surrender”.

  • Tourist  On April 12, 2015 at 5:03 AM

    UMOC, everyone our age thinks of Matt Dillon first as the carrot.

    • Devildog  On April 12, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      Tourist, you young guys have no sense of history!

      • Tourist  On April 12, 2015 at 6:10 PM

        Devildog, I hope we understand each other. Which one do you remember?

        • Devildog  On April 12, 2015 at 7:27 PM

          Gunsmoke, of course. I have barely heard of the other guy and don’t recall the “carrot” so it seems I may not have understood your reference.

          • Tourist  On April 12, 2015 at 8:20 PM

            Devildog, without looking it up, there was a movie called “The Thing.” It’s been remade; I’m talking about the original, in the early ‘50’s. At the South Pole or North Pole or Greenland, one of those places, scientists find a crashed UFO and an occupant frozen in the ice. When he thaws out, accidentally I think, members of the team start turning up dead. When they find him, shooting him does nothing because he’s not our type of flesh and blood. He has a structure something like a carrot. I don’t know that anyone gave much thought at that time to the actor in the Thing suit.

            Later, when Gunsmoke was big, I remember it was a fun fact to learn that the Thing had been James Arness. That’s all.

            • Devildog  On April 12, 2015 at 9:26 PM

              Thanks Tourist. Pretty obtuse-but I’ll put it away in my bank of irrelevant knowledge. Glad to learn though that you are (also) an old fart.

    • Little_Minx  On April 12, 2015 at 11:46 PM

      I think of James Arness as Peter Graves’ brother. Although Graves was best known for “Mission Impossible,” he was also memorable in the film “Stalag 17.”

      • Tourist  On April 13, 2015 at 12:05 AM

        Hi, Minx! Didn’t we hear once that “Stalag 17” is Devildog’s all-time favorite movie? I may have the nuance wrong. I’m not trying to start a fight.

        I was a great fan of “Mission Impossible” – who wasn’t? – and cannot remember very much now. The characters, yes. The stories, no. Almost every show goes downhill, of course. My overall sense of MI is that in the early years they set up every detail of their miraculous escapes. By the end, they were walking away each week on pure luck.

        • Devildog  On April 13, 2015 at 12:30 AM

          Loved Stalag 17! William Holden lying in bed trying to figure it out. The guy who was either retarded or suffering from PTSD walking around muttering “I believe her, I believe her” after receiving a letter from his wife telling him she had his baby well more than 9 months after they were last together.

          Peter Graves? Just a blonde-headed Nazi spy who got what he deserved.

          Tourist, your memory (at least of what I have previously written) is remarkable!

          • Little_Minx  On April 13, 2015 at 5:08 PM

            Gosh, a Kumbaya moment on UMOC comments!

            • Devildog  On April 13, 2015 at 5:19 PM

              Just goes to show Minx what one who lives long enough can see. Maybe we will even see some near-death bed conversions-political, religious or otherwise.

              • Little_Minx  On April 13, 2015 at 11:48 PM

                Not holding my breath waiting…

                • Devildog  On April 13, 2015 at 11:52 PM

                  Have faith in your persuasive abilities!

                  • Little_Minx  On April 14, 2015 at 12:35 AM

                    Maybe some will see reason, logic and science, and reject mythology.

                    • Devildog  On April 14, 2015 at 9:16 AM

                      Why would anyone even think about “it”, to try and apply “reason, logic and science”? What difference does it make anyway? Be good-let the chips fall where they may!

  • Tourist  On April 14, 2015 at 4:06 AM

    So we’re talking about favorite movies, is that it?

    We attend movies selectively and I don’t go in search of ways to be disappointed, so I frequently end up mentioning casually: “Saw such-and-such. It was pretty good.” Beyond that, I rarely push a movie as a “must.” A few years ago I did, to a lot of people, including in the community here. It was “Prometheus.” I strongly urged re-watching “Alien” and “Aliens” (a.k.a. Alien 2; no need for 3 or 4), and then “Prometheus” was the prequel.

    The original Alien was in 1979 and it broke a lot of cinematic ground. Apparently Christopher Nolan, the Batman director, sat his team down to watch Alien together, telling them, “This is the look that I want.” Alien was based on a short story (I guess not even a book) that I never read. The movie raised plenty of unanswered questions that I doubt the story explained either – or that they had a prequel in mind back then, or even sequels. (1) I think Prometheus is brilliant in how it connects itself to Alien through those mysteries. (2) It was amazing that the loose ends were there in the first place to make use of. (3) Idris Elba, Charlize Theron, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

    I still think so. I have the DVD and have seen it several times. (I replay movies in the background as other people play music.) The thing is, when the topic of the Alien franchise comes up, or the topic of sequels/prequels, what often also comes up is how bad everyone agrees Prometheus is. I wonder what the people I recommended it to think – not just about the movie!

    Prometheus (not Alien) is a literal search to meet our maker. Great tag line: “They created us. Then they changed their mind.”

  • Little_Minx  On May 3, 2015 at 11:49 PM

    Psst, Amphibian! Did you catch tonight’s episode of “Call the Midwife”? If so, you may have noticed that the actress playing shopkeeper Violet Gee is the same one who plays replacement pharmacist Jennifer Cardew on “Doc Martin.” Obviously it was a bit of an inside joke that on “Call the Midwife,” her character tells potential suitor Fred that her late husband’s name was Bert 🙂

  • Little_Minx  On May 4, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    UMOC et al., did you see this recent article? “Kansas shows us what could happen if Republicans win in 2016”:

    “…At least eight Kansas school districts recently announced that they’re starting summer break early this year, and not because kids have already learned so much that they deserve a few extra days off. It’s because these schools ran out of money, thanks to state leaders’ decision to ax education spending midyear to plug an ever-widening hole in their budget…”

    • Devildog  On May 4, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      Block grants are indeed outrageous because they force local school boards rather than legislators to make tough decisions. That is the import of the linked, progresśive article. If you agree with the article, you are a progresśive. If you don’t, you want to add school kids to granny as to whom you want to push over the cliff.

      I know very little about the Kansas school, tax or any other issue but neither do you!

      • Little_Minx  On May 4, 2015 at 11:20 PM

        Ah, the shibboleth of local control over public schools, making it easier for scoundrels to try to impose religious mythologies like “intelligent design” (creationism in fancy-dress) on innocent children, and necessitating costly court actions to get undone — by a politically conservative federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush, no less:

  • Devildog  On May 5, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    Aren’t there legislators as well as school boards as well as judges who are scoundrels? It’s easier to move into and out of school districts than states and countries-i think!

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