Over the weekend I found myself watching one of the cable stations that plays old westerns. The movie was an oldie starring Randolph Scott in a very interesting role for him. He was actually a bad guy who was pretending to be a good guy. The movie was probably made later in his career when he was tired of being type cast as a hero with a crispy clean motive in everything he did. As we all know, life isn’t like that even for long term heroes.
At one point during the movie, his protagonist had discovered his evil plan and relieved him of his revolver and his Winchester. “Steve” (the good guy) was then taking him back to town when another group of really bad guys showed up. “give me a gun, Steve, at least let me die with some dignity.” Steve of course refused and with the help of the other guy with them fought the bad guys back into the hills.
Later, the bad guys once again catch up with the hapless group and Randolph comes face to face with a gunslinger… the famous line literally jumps out of the screen…
“You wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man, would you?”
That’s it. The code of the old west. Not even the worst of the worst would shoot an unarmed man. You might give him a chance to get a gun from someplace. You might even back away. But the code of the west demands that every one does the right thing.
There is some bad news coming to the old west (and the east, north and south). The bad guys no longer honor the code. Many of them will just shoot you regardless of that code or any code. It may be upbringing, it may be just the rotten things of society, it may be that he has had a bad day. But chances are that if you find yourself in the company of someone who has never signed up to Randolph’s code of honor, you may find his words a waste of breath.
When the people in Washington talk about taking your guns away, many of them still live in a fantasy world where the bad guys will do the right thing given a chance. Truthfully though, those folks all have their own armed guards. Stop and ask yourself one question… If the bad guys can be trusted, why are all of the people who want to take your guns so well protected?