Wild Wild West: Guns Still a Part of Ariz. History

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As the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., are being laid to rest, some politicians are calling for stricter gun control laws.

Guns are ingrained in America's history, especially in Arizona, which was once home to the Wild Wild West.

Saloons, stagecoaches and shoot-outs all played an important part in Arizona's long history, and that's why even today you'll find the ethos of the Wild West permeates their culture.

And Arizonans have very strong opinions about gun control.

The mass shooting of 18 people at a Safeway in Tucson is raising difficult questions across the state as pundits and politicians call for new gun control measures.

But 45 minutes south of Tucson is the historic town of Tombstone, scene of another famous shooting 130 years ago at the O.K. Corral.

Today, Tombstone is a tourist attraction, where gunfights are re-enacted everyday. But recently, the actors revised the script to help people understand that in some circumstances involving guns, no one comes out a winner.

Stephen Keith is Tombstone's "Doc Holliday."

"What we do is make them real people, with lives and girlfriends, and we show how quickly and abruptly that ended," he explained. "You walk out of our show, you walk past the crime scene, the dead guys stay dead, they don't get up and walk away, you don't walk out with a happy feeling and want to go play with daddy's guns."

Despite the daily reminder of the seriousness of gun crime, Keith doesn't feel guns are the problem.

"We have lots of guns in Arizona. Just about everyone has guns here. We don't have the kind of gun violence you have in a place like Washington, DC," he said. "Now, down south in Mexico, you can't have a gun, and on the border there's all kinds of gun violence going on right now."

Fellow actor Ken Barrett agrees. He's the former marshal of Tombstone, and also has a Ph.D in psychology.

Barrett said more gun laws wouldn't have stopped the tragedy in Tucson.

"Had he not had a gun, he could have gone to a home and garden store and gotten a machete. He could have used his vehicle and killed 40 people, running them down in the parking lot," Barrett explained. "So to say that this event has anything to do with guns or gun laws, it's just that happened to be the instrumentality that he chose."

But what about people who don't have gunfights for a living?

Shirley Requard is a retired nurse and grandmother of five who lives in Tucson -- and a gun owner.

"When I heard that there was pending legislation or talk about taking away my right to bear arms, I went out and bought more ammunition, and I bought another handgun," she said. "Existing laws didn't stop that young man, and putting more laws on the books isn't going to affect anyone who has a real desire to kill people."

"Arizona's history tells us that we take responsibility for ourselves," Requard continued. "And I know that I cannot do anything about the bullet that has my name on it, but I can do one heck of a lot about the bullet that is addressed, 'to whom it may concern.'"

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CBN News
Chuck Holton

Chuck Holton

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