…have a gun! The saying is generally attributed to Mark Moritz, and is perfectly true.
It’s also nothing new.
While in Texas recently I had occasion to read “Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger.” It was written by William Warren Sterling, who was a Texas Ranger himself on the way to becoming Adjutant General of the Lone Star State. His career was an impressive one.
Reading that autobiography, it became clear that Sterling was seldom without his engraved, five and a half-inch barrel single action Colt .45 revolver, and not often far from his lever action Winchester Model 1895 .30-06 rifle.
His career had taught him good reason for that. He wrote, “Ex-Ranger Joe (Pinkie) Taylor … was a member of a pioneer family in Goliad County, and made a fine record in the Rangers. He married, settled down and became a Valley farmer. His family objected to pistols. Shortly after he discarded the familiar weapon, the enemies he had made in the Service killed him and mutilated his body. He was a crack shot, and if he had been armed, the assassins would not have ventured within range of his six-shooter.”
In another incident during the “Bandit War” of 1915, Sterling wrote of one gang, “They robbed a store, and then went to a corn sheller, which was being operated by A. L. Austin and his son, Charles. These inoffensive farmers had recently moved to Texas from Montgomery, Missouri. The outlaws captured the unarmed Austins and held them prisoner until young Elmer Millard drove up in a wagon. They put the Austins in it and forced Millard to drive them to a spot near their home. The Austins were then killed by a fusillade from the bandits’ rifles. Miller was released.”
Another atrocity occurred on a train. “Seated in the smoker were four unarmed soldiers who were returning to Fort Brown after being absent from duty on furlough. Two State officials, Dr. E.S. McCain, Deputy State Health Officer, and District Attorney John I. Klieber were in the car. Harry Wallis, a former Ranger, was also a passenger. When the train came to a stop, four bandits entered the car and began shooting the occupants. One soldier was killed instantly and two others badly wounded. Judge Klieber was on the floor with one of the wounded soldiers, who bled profusely. The blood partially covered his clothing, and the bandits apparently thought that both were dead. Wallis and Dr. McCain hid in the toilet. The bandits fired a number of shots through the door, hitting the doctor in the abdomen and Wallis in the hand. Dr. McCain died the next day and Wallis recovered. A Mexican passenger on the train told the bandits about the secreted men. I knew both Klieber and Wallis very well. The unbelievable part of the whole affair was that no one on the train was armed. Wallis told me that he would have had his pistol if he had been traveling by automobile, but thought it would not be needed on the train.”
The criminal is the actor. He gets the first move. He doesn’t need to carry a gun until he decides he’s going to use it. The good guy or gal is the reactor: we don’t know when we’ll need it, which is why it behooves us to carry a defensive firearm wherever it is legal to do so.