Old West

How The Old West Did Background Checks On Gun Owners

As 21th-century citizens of the world, we all have the notion of how unruly abandoned the Old West was. With the help of history-based movies and faded black and white photos documented through generations, we have come to discover more and more of the Old Wide West. For the full list of that movies, keep reading the article.

Truth be told, saying the West was wild was a stretch from the truth. Of course, there were gunfights, the war with the natives was ongoing, and lawlessness was normal on the American frontier; it was certainly a wild time in the Western part of the United States, but even then, regulations were enforced on the ownership of guns.

Gun regulation is not something you’d expect at the Old West, but the late 1800s had a lot of signs reminding gun-carrying visitors about gun control. These signs are found along dusty roadsides as you enter the town, saloons, and finally, the sheriff’s place. Outsiders were welcome, especially if they were bringing in business to the town. However, these visitors also needed to abide by some security protocols and were subject to background checks. This did not only apply to the visitors but also to the residents of the town. How did they go about it back then? The rules were simple and straightforward, and everyone was expected to follow.

All Gun Owners Were Required To Register

This means that the whole town had their names in a logbook. It was a given that most people in the Old West owned guns. Some families even had more than one or at least a 1:1 ratio. Guns were necessary weapons because people in the community needed to protect their own animals from wild animals and occasional bandits. It was not illegal to own a gun, but town officials required everyone to have them documented. The town clerk logged them in, and these records were kept in the sheriff’s possession.

Registration Was Required At The Time Of Sale

One of the lucrative businesses in the American frontier towns were gun stores. They sold all types of revolvers and rifles, carrying popular gun maker brands. A shop could be laden with Colts, Derringers and Smith & Wessons, and anyone who wanted to make a purchase were also docketed in a logbook. If the buyer was a member of the community, the gun store owner could vouch for the person. Usually, people buying from the local gun store were from the same town, so this didn’t pose much of a problem in background checks. Sometimes, though, outsiders would come into town to buy supplies, guns included. These people would be made to fill out a registration card and submit to the sheriff’s questioning.

Town Outsiders Needed To Deposit Their Firearms

Many old towns implemented a “no carrying of firearms outside” rule, even for the townsfolk. Visitors from another place were supposed to disarm themselves and submit their weapons for deposit before they could go about their business inside the town. Since other towns implemented the same rules, visitors often had a card with them containing pertinent information, equivalent to the identification cards we have today. This made it easier for authorities to do quick background checks.

Running a peaceful town must have been challenging in the past, much more in the Old West. Doing routine background checks on gun owners helped make peace and progress an easier task.


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About The Old West History Net

The Old West History Net is a historical course that attracts a wide range of visitors including students, history enthusiasts, travelers, and wild west admirers.