In the U.S., the Real World Copies “Wild West” Movies

I used to enjoy cowboy movies. It’s comforting when the most complicated problems can be solved with a  Colt .45 revolver. But I never thought these simple-minded morality plays reflect real life.

Until now.

Suddenly, all over America, politicians are reinventing the Wild West.

In Florida, for example, a proposal before the Legislature would allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns openly. And the trend is nationwide. In some states, new laws even allow guns in colleges.

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer had to veto a bill that would have allowed guns on K-12 campuses.

Texans always have been free to carry guns. When I was a Hearst editor in Clearwater, we used to get visits from the editor of the Beaumont newspaper, who reportedly carried a hogleg on his hip when he went to work.

That was one reason I didn’t go to Beaumont when Hearst closed the Clearwater Sun. The Wild West is much too wild for me.

So I was not surprised to read this morning that a Texas toddler took a gun to kindergarten, and that it accidentally discharged injuring himself and two other kids.

Here’s an excerpt from the wire story:

HOUSTON – Police are trying to determine how a Houston kindergartener got a loaded gun that he brought to an elementary school, where officials say it accidentally fired when it fell from his pocket as he sat down for lunch, wounding himself and two other students.

Some parents said the incident has made them think twice about safety at the school and they wonder if additional security measures, including extra officers and even metal detectors, are needed. School district officials said extra security would be in place Wednesday to allay parents’ fears.

One bullet was fired Tuesday around 10:35 a.m. in the Ross Elementary School cafeteria, spraying fragments at the students, said Houston Independent School District Assistant Police Chief Robert Mock.

“It dropped on the floor, under the table. It was loud, it was so loud,” 6-year-old Kennedi Glapion said as she was being picked up from the school by her grandmother.

It’s the kind of craziness I expect from Texas. There are an awful lot of crazy people in that state – including the secessionist governor Rick Perry.

It’s not just childish, it’s criminally irresponsible to walk around with a loaded gun swinging from your hip. But don’t tell that to millions of Americans. They cherish their “right to bear arms.” And they’re being brainwashed by PR experts in the pay of the gun merchants. No politician today dares to stand in the way of the lucrative arms trade.

I doubt that the incident in Texas will change many minds. Even the shooting spree that left Congresswman Gabby Giffords critically wounded has apparently had no impact on the gun nuts. But it might provide a little ammunition for members of Congress who are trying to limit the size of magazines on semi-automatic weapons.

(Click here for an update on Giffords’ condition.)

Meanwhile, America’s Wild West nonsense will continue to escalate – until something really devastating happens.