The Wild West: Not as Wild as Modern AZ

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It is no secret by now that Arizona has some of the laxest gun control laws in the United States, a country already renowned for its gun-totin' ways. Yet in the continuing aftermath of the Arizona shooting that left 6 people dead and a member of congress fighting for her life, few expect significant changes in our nation's gun control laws. It’s not like guns are less regulated than toys. Wait, are they?

Bob Drogin writes today in the LA Times from Tombstone, Arizona—the site of the infamous "gunfight at the OK Corral"—with another shocker: guns are actually less regulated in Arizona today than they were in the rambling West of yore. "Back then, Tombstone had far stricter gun control than it does today," he writes, noting that the infamous duel was allegedly started because some outlaws had refused to follow a local law that banned firearms in public.

Present-day Arizona’s gun laws (or lack thereof) have been profiled extensively in the New York Times, among others. The state remains one of only three states that doesn’t require a permit to carry a concealed weapon, a state where you can bring firearms into bars and restaurants (as long as you’re not drinking), a state where you can take your guns to work (as long as they’re in the car) or to a school (as long as you’re in the car and the weapon is 'unloaded').

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Bob Boze Bell, the executive editor of True West Magazine is quoted in the LA Times' article, in regards to the Old West: "You could wear your gun into town, but you had to check it at the sheriff's office or the Grand Hotel, and you couldn't pick it up again until you were leaving town…It was an effort to control the violence."

Not so much anymore, it seems. If they called those allegedly lawless days the "Wild" West, what should we call it now?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.