In this op-ed, I debunk the conventional picture of the Wild West as a place with rampant gun violence.

Contrary to its name, the Wild West was the setting for the passage of some of the nation’s first gun-control laws. In 19th-century frontier towns, people couldn’t just walk around with guns in hand. Many Americans are probably unaware that the iconic Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881, arose because Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp was trying to enforce a city ordinance prohibiting anyone from carrying a deadline weapon in town.

Contrast that to today: This year it is projected that almost as many Americans (32,000) will be killed in firearm-related incidents as die in automobile accidents.

Read More in Inside Sources.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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