Did Old West towns require cowboys to check their guns?

Jim Spell
Sonora, California

Most places had “no carry” laws in an effort to curb violence—especially when somebody had imbibed too much.

It was okay for someone to pack a firearm when arriving or leaving town, but you had to be on the move. Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury were armed in the empty lot behind the O.K. Corral in October 1881, but they were supposedly preparing to head out. They lingered just a little too long.

The Earp brothers and “Doc” Holliday tried to arrest them for misdemeanor firearm possession, and the famous shoot-out broke.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. . His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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