Quote of the day—Geoffrey Canada

The Wild West was never as wild as many communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, (and on and on) are.

Geoffrey Canada
Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence
[I haven’t looked up the actual numbers but I suspect his statement is true as long as you don’t regard the Hollywood Western as the definition of “Wild West”. In which case we have a good comeback for those anti-gun people who claim we don’t need guns anymore because “the Wild West doesn’t exist anymore.”

I finished this book recently and need to review/fisk it. I believe Canada has some excellent insights, is a good person, is making a positive difference in the lives of countless people, and came to his anti-gun views honestly. But I think his conclusions about guns are incorrect and misguided.—Joe]


8 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Geoffrey Canada

  1. There’s a great comment on this quoted by L. Neil Smith:

    In this connection, Second Amendment activist Neal Knox reports a study on the mythical “Wild West” that bears repeating. American cities of the 19th century East and West were paired by population and demographics. The macho one-industry whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, for example, was compared with the macho one-industry mining town of Leadville, Colorado, both with populations of around ten thousand people. A decade of records from the height of the cattle drive era shows that the only difference between them (and this was true of other paired cities, as well) was that nearly everyone in Leadville kept a gun, which was not true in New Bedford, and that murder and other violent crimes in New Bedford outnumbered those in Leadville by a hundred to one! So much for the wild, wild west.
    –L. Neil Smith, the Atlanta Declaration, September1987

  2. At least Canada, for all his anti-gun-ness, seems to have a reasonable grasp of the logistics of getting rid of the guns in inner cities through gun control. I.e., he’s not suggesting it, so far as I read.

  3. He’s wrong. In “Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes”, Roger McGrath calculates the homicide rate for Bodie, California during it’s mining boom at 116. New Orleans leads the US today with a homicide rate of 57.6. Of course on the frontier nobody worried much about the high homicide rate since the vast majority of killings were mutual combat mainly between “roughs” and “badmen” (kind of like today) . Oh, and other crime, especially crime against women, was almost non-existent due to “the armed citizenry”.

  4. We are aware of the “wild west” because the violence level was low enough we could learn the names of the various participants. The violence level of the bad parts of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago was so much higher that we do not know the names of the various participants, we merely know the names of the bad parts of those cities. “Hell’s Kitchen” in New York did not get that name from some potty-mouthed English Chef, and apart from Damon Runyon’s characters we know nothing of the individuals who gave Hell’s Kitchen its reputation.

  5. Alphamike, but the New Orleans rate is with modern medicine, notably antibiotics and sulfa, neither of which were available in Bodie when it was a going concern.

    And as for the killings being between participants in bar fights, that is the problem with today’s self defense laws (undergoing gradual remedy) A mugging or a robbery is as unlike the theoretical equal combat of a bar fight as one can get. One party goes out for the hunt, with other humans as prey, the other goes out and hopes to return home safely without incident. To require the carefully parsed levels of aggression and weaponry one does in a bar fight is not merely immoral, it is evil.

  6. Geoffrey Canada asserted at one point that much gun paraphernalia was obviously marketed to children. Adding $200 worth of accessories to a $500 pistol, or $600 worth to a $1200 (in normal times) rifle may be marketing to the immature impulses that remain in grown-ups; but it isn’t marketing to children, any more than Corvettes are marketed to children. I agree that Canada seems to be an intelligent guy trying to do some important things, but I don’t think he knows many serious gun owners.

  7. “Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston,” and *what* do these cities have in common when it comes to state and/or local gun laws?

    Jeff Canada’s an idiot.

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