Monday, August 17, 2020

It's Better To Have A Gun And Not Need It Than To Need A Gun And Not Have It

With all of the chaos going on in the streets of several of our cities these days, with ANTIFA wanting to plant their Communist flag in any city that they can intimidate and with Black Lives Matter telling Whites that they are somehow responsible for slavery that happened over 200 years ago, things have gotten a little scary for inner-city travelers. One such traveler is a reader who wrote to ask a simple question, "Is it better to have a gun on me, even if I'm never going to need one?"

My first response when I read her email was a bit of a chuckle. I chuckled at the idea of someone assuming that we will never need something. I'm a good driver, why do I need a seatbelt? My house is not a fire trap waiting to happen, so why do I need a fire extinguisher? My plumbing is fine, why do I need a drain plunger? And you get the idea. The list of what we keep on hand because we may need it overrules our false sense of security when it comes to life in general.

My reader merely asking the question tells me that she's concerned with her safety. According to her letter, she has to commute into a fairly big city that is working to defund their police department while the danger all around grows daily. She feels that she is in a hostile land and the police are outnumbered. Worst, she feels the police chief is being kept from doing his job in the midst of the bad guys taking over the city. The mayor is scared and is bowing to the threats from the bad guys. And the townsfolk, they are looking for peace and salvation in the form of help that is being turned away.

Does it sound like an old Hollywood movie? Does it sound like any of a hundred films made back in the 1930s, '40s or '50s, about a town that needs taming? Does it sound like a situation that no one in any city should be facing? Do you get the feeling that she's at wit's end when looking for answers regarding how to protect herself or her family? Do you get the feeling that she has lost faith in the local police and has essentially given up depending on the local city and state government to provide her with some semblance of safety and security?

It's been my experience that there comes a moment in time when people realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own security. While there are many things that trigger that realization, in some cases, it comes out of an overwhelming sense of fear. In other cases, it comes when realizing that the people you depended on for protection are simply not there anymore.

While I'm not going to go into the reasons, or what started me doing it, I've carried a gun or had one nearby for close to 45 years. It has been a conscious decision of mine to do so for my safety. That's what carrying a gun comes down to. After weighing the reasons for considering it, it comes down to one making a conscious decision -- a decision that you made after deliberating about both the pros and the cons.

Why is that so important? It's because carrying a gun for personal protection is a personal preference. And with it, one has to understand the seriousness of using a gun in self-defense. The use of deadly force should be used if one's life or the life of another is in mortal danger. Simply put, carrying a gun is insurance. It is there to keep one alive.

I'm just one of the millions of American gun owners who believe in the real-world wisdom that says, "It's better to have a gun and not need one than to need a gun and not have it." And like millions of other Americans, I've always believed that I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to providing security for myself and those I love.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we really are responsible for providing our own security. The police, as much as I respect the job they do, simply can't be everywhere at a moment's notice. It's silly to think they can. That's never changed over the years. And because of that fact of life, our having a gun may be the determining factor when your life is on the line.

About now, there may be a reader who is about to write me a note to say that many an armed citizen was killed during the Old West. Frankly, they'd be right. Armed citizens were killed for several reasons back in the day. But while that's true, taking precautions such as arming one's self also saved many lives. Guns were used to not only while protecting the person armed, but also while protecting their families and homes.

Deputy U.S. Marshal George W. Leihy -- Killed In 1866

What might sound strange in my telling you that there people in the Old West who didn't feel right about carrying a gun for one reason or another? Believe it or not, yes, there were. In fact, an example of such an individual was Deputy U.S. Marshal George W. Leihy. As odd as it sounds for a lawman, especially for one in the 1800's, he felt that way in 1866. For unknown reasons, he didn't carry a gun.

Can anyone imagine a law enforcement officer of any sort going unarmed today? I can't. But that's what Marshal Leihy did in 1866. For reasons that I'm sure wouldn't make much sense for a person in his position, George Leihy was unarmed and vulnerable while working as a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Indian Agent in La Paz, Arizona. As unbelievable as that sounds, it's a true story.

George W. Leihy was born in New York. Before arriving in Arizona, he was in Petaluma, California, where he left his wife and children to take the position as the Indian Agent at La Paz, Arizona, in 1863. I read where he wore the badge of a Deputy U.S. Marshal to supplement his pas as Indian Agent.

Quakers, also called "Friends," are a Christian denomination known formally as the "Religious Society of Friends" or "Friends Church." In 1851, Congress passed the Indian Appropriations Act which authorized the creation of Indian reservations. In 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant reorganized the Indian Service. Part of that reorganization called for the replacement of government officials by religious men, nominated by churches. Religious groups were to oversee the Indian agencies on reservations and teach Christianity to the native tribes. This was all about the assimilation of the Indian tribes into the world of American whites.

Quakers had already been involved in that effort on reservations for a couple of years prior to the 1868 reorganization. In fact, in the mid-1860s Quakers and other Christian groups were being put in charge of many of the agencies in an effort to introduce some honesty into the Indian service. Let's be honest here, many of the government officials who were Indian agents were crooked as a dog's hind leg.

Many agents were also said to be also cruel as the day is long. This was probably due to the fact that many were military officers who were appointed as agents on reservations after they left the Army. It's said that some agents took out their personal hatred for Indians while in their official capacity as Indian agents. In many cases, it was a situation of having put people in place to care for those they hate.

I read that Indian Agent and Deputy U.S. Marshal George W. Leihy was a Quaker who didn't believe in carrying a gun for self-protection. While I hate to speculate simply because I really like only going with facts, there is speculation that he didn't want shooting another person on his conscience if it came to that. Of course, you have to be alive to have your conscience bother you.

Sources say he was advised on several occasions that he should arm himself since he was the Indian Agent in La Paz. When he volunteered to became a Deputy U.S. Marshal, he was told by local military commanders that he should be armed because he needed to escort prisoners. Some of those prisoners were bad hombres who would do anything to get loose and disappear.

The first U.S. Marshal ever killed in the line of duty was on January 11, 1794. Fact is only five Deputy U.S. Marshals had been killed in the line of duty up to 1860. Knowing those facts, one can only wonder if he felt a sense of complacency. No one will ever really know if he felt the odds were in his favor, and being unarmed was a safe bet.

We know he was told to be on guard before his last assignment, simply because it was well known that there were Indians in his charge at La Paz who were not happy with him. Even after being told that, he is said to have disregarded their advice and went about unarmed. This would catch up to him during a return trip from Prescott when he was escorting a killer.

On that trip from Prescott, Marshal Leihy had with him a La Paz Indian who was captured in the Skull Valley fight and was being held as a prisoner at Fort Whipple. Skull Valley was known for ages of troubles and death. Among those age-old wars was that between the Pima and Yavapai Indians.

The commanding officer of Fort Whipple, Col. Lovell, released the La Paz Indian to Leihy on his authority as the Indian Agent. As the Indian Agent, Leighy superseded Col. Lovell's authority over the Indians. Even though that was the case, at one point Lovell out and out refused to release the La Paz Indian to Leihy until he called in a second marshal for that assignment. While Col. Lovell was said to be extremely reluctant to release him because Leihy was unarmed, he had no choice.

The reason for Col. Lovell's reluctance had to do with the local reputation of that prisoner, and the fact that Lovell saw that Marshal Leihy was at a disadvantage against that killer. Col. Lovell is said to have made it very clear to Leihy that the La Paz Indian in his custody was a known killer. None of that mattered to Marshal Leihy.

Newspapers later reported that George Leihy and two Indians arrived at Eble's Station in Skull Valley on their way to the Bell Ranch where they were to be joined by the Indian agency clerk. He was listed in the papers only as Mr. Evarts who reportedly arrived at the Bell Ranch in a buggy. He met Leihy there, and would travel with Leihy who was in charge of the detail.

Deputy U.S. Marshal George W. Leihy disregarded great advice and went about the country alone and unarmed. During his return trip from Prescott, about ten miles below Skull Valley where the road passes through Bell's Canyon, Marshal Leihy and his Indian agency clerk were waylaid and killed.

According to newspapers, the Indian he was escorting must have been joined by a small war party. Both Leihy and Evarts were killed, dismembered, and mutilated. As for both of the Indians with Marshal Leihy, they were gone and never seen again. Most believe they simply joined the party that killed Leihy and Evarts.

We have the freedom to decide for ourselves whether to arm ourselves or not. Not carrying a gun is a personal choice, no different than carrying one is. Yes, there have always been folks who simply don't believe a gun of any sort is needed. And, contrary to what we are told by Hollywood and fiction writers, people had to make that same choice back in the Old West. 

In reality, there have always been folks who refuse to believe the real-world wisdom that says, "It's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it." While we don't know all of the circumstances of his death, many believe that on that Sunday, November 18, 1866, Deputy U.S. Marshal George W. Leihy learned that life lesson the hard way.

George W. Leihy was said to be 49 years old when he was killed in 1866. And while there will never be a way of knowing how much difference being armed would have made when he and Evarts were attacked, he should have been armed.

Tom Correa


1 comment:

  1. I don't know about you but if I lived in the Old West, marshal or no marshal, I would have a gun on me at all times. I would carry a Colt .45 Peacemaker revolver or a Navy Colt or a Winchester rifle or shotgun. Hell, I might even pack a derringer. Or even a flintlock pistol. It's better than a knife. And if I really wanted to play dirty, I would have 6 pistols in my belt, a knife, a shotgun, a rifle, and a tomahawk. And if I had a job in the Old West, it would be either outlaw, lawman, cowboy, or bounty hunter. And I would NEVER leave the house or town without my guns. Because if I'm gonna get shot down on main street, it would to take the coward with me. Just saying. So if you were to ask me "Why carry a gun?", I would laugh at you and say, "Why not carry a gun?" Unless you are against carrying a gun, or if you are mentally ill, or a felon, then do it. It could save your life. Lock and load, baby. Lock and load.


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