Santa Rosa, California isn’t some mega-metropolis, but it’s not exactly a fly-spec on the map, either. With over 175,000 people, it’s big enough that I have no doubt the city is having an issue with violent crime.
As per usual, particularly in the Golden State, when there’s a problem with violent crime, someone is going to blame the guns.
In the North Bay, a gun buyback event in Santa Rosa saw a big turnout Saturday, as hundreds of people swapped their firearms for cash.
Santa Rosa’s first ever gun buyback event drew more than a crowd; it was a traffic jam.
Cars stretched more than a mile down Fulton Road.
“I think it’s amazing. It surprises me so many are getting rid of guns,” said Sandy Sewell.
Despite the obvious popularity here, some research studies have questioned how effective buybacks are at stopping crime.
The National Bureau of Economic Research said, “Using data from the National Incident based reporting system, we find no evidence that GBP’S reduce gun crime.”
“At the end of the day, we’re not saying it’s going to reduce all the crime in Santa Rosa, but we do say the program may make that one difference for that one act of violence. For me, that’s a big win,” [Santa Rosa Police Chief John] Cregan said.
Now, they pulled in 423 guns before they started turning people away. They paid $200 for handguns and rifles while “automatics” and “ghost guns” got $300.
If no one got $300 for a gun, they still paid out more than $84,000 for guns in a program that studies have shown simply doesn’t work, and Cregan is pulling the “if it saves one life” nonsense?
That’s a cop-out and everyone knows it.
There’s no evidence it’ll make a difference in any act of violence. There’s no hint that it will. After all, in this report, they talk to people selling guns and they’re exactly the kind of people you expect to sell them at a buyback. They’re non-gun people who just want to get rid of some family heirlooms because the media told them guns were bad.
Sure, some of the others might be criminals looking to dump weapons or something of that sort, but for the most part, the bad guys keep their guns. Even if one sells a weapon, you better believe they’re still going to have a way to get a gun.
In other words, Santa Rosa spent more than $84,000 on the vague hope that maybe, some single act of violence might be averted somehow.
And then Cregan has the cajones to sit there and call this a big win?
The only “win” here is that he gets to look like he’s doing something about violent crime without having to, you know, actually do anything about violent crime. The big win is probably just him protecting his paycheck.
Look, the study mentioned in the above-linked quote is legit. It’s also not the only study showing buybacks don’t work. In fact, it’s hilarious watching people try to defend them. While I take issue with how Cregan is framing this, he’s hardly the most egregious in their nonsense defense of buybacks.
That doesn’t give him a pass for justifying such an expenditure with little more than a vague hope that it will do something.
That money could well have been put to better use in a number of ways, ways that might actually make a difference.
But those aren’t as flashy as buybacks, so they’re never even discussed.
Maria Susan Flores Gamez was born in 1992 and raised in Guamuchil, Mexico. An attractive, doe-eyed lass, Maria won the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa beauty pageant. At that time Flores Gamez was also taking media classes at her local university. By 2009 she had been modeling professionally and participating in beauty pageants for three years.
In June of 2012 Maria competed in the Our Beauty Sinaloa pageant but did not place. The Our Beauty Sinaloa winner goes on to compete in the Miss Mexico pageant. From there, Miss Mexico represents the country at the Miss Universe competition.
While all that is obviously terribly important to the participants, such stuff has never done much for me. It always struck me as a bit exploitative. I like pretty girls more than most, but in the Information Age it surprises me that the woke warriors of the world will tolerate women prancing about mostly naked being overtly judged on the strength of their fleshly attributes. In the case of Maria Susan Flores Gamez, however, vapid beauty pageants were the least of her worries. Along the way Maria met some seriously sketchy guys.
The Sinaloa state in northern Mexico is home to one of the world’s most powerful drug cartels. Also known as the Guzman-Loera Organization, the Pacific Cartel, the Federation, or the Blood Alliance, the Sinaloa Cartel was founded in 1987 and maintains a presence in 22 of the 31 Mexican states. The mass of illegal drugs smuggled into the United States by the Sinaloa Cartel is measured in tons. This means money, lots and lots of money.
It’s really tough for normal folks to appreciate how massive this illicit enterprise actually is. To paraphrase JK Simmons in the superb action flick The Accountant, these guys count their money using truck scales. The Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for roughly a quarter of the drugs that are smuggled into the United States from Mexico. Conservatively estimated, their annual income hovers around $3 billion.
The Sinaloa Cartel was helmed for years by the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He was, for a time, on the Forbes list of billionaires. These drug lords are some of the most powerful men on earth. There is literally nothing they cannot buy. However, the one thing they all genuinely fear is the American supermax prison.
After several arrests and high-profile escapes from Mexican custody, El Chapo was extradited to the United States. In November of 2019 his trial began on charges ranging from weapons possession to homicide. In July of 2019 he was convicted of all 17 counts lodged against him. El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus another 30 years. He was also ordered to forfeit some $12.6 billion. As of this writing, El Chapo is tucked away in ADX Florence, the most secure supermax facility in the country. So long as his cellmate doesn’t beat him to death first, El Chapo will undoubtedly breathe his last while incarcerated there.
Command of the Sinaloa Cartel has passed through several individuals, but it yet remains a major player in the Mexican drug trade. While drugs, guns, and opulence are part and parcel of this incredibly dangerous profession, another common thread is beautiful women. Guzman had at least four wives and at least eleven children. It was her innate beauty that earned Maria Susan Flores Gamez a position with the Sinaloan gangsters.
Certain parts of northern Mexico are legitimate battlefields. Drug gangs with essentially unlimited funding field armies of paid sicarios armed with the finest military hardware money can buy. That means belt-fed machineguns, antitank weapons, .50-caliber sniper rigs, and assault rifles and submachine guns aplenty.
35,000 Mexicans were murdered in 2019. Between 2000 and 2013, 215,000 people were killed there. That puts the annual murder rate at around 25 per 100,000 people. That means that one in every 4,000 Mexicans is murdered every annum. To put that in perspective, we lost 58,000 American troops in ten years of active combat in Vietnam.
Mexico actually has some profoundly restrictive gun control laws. I’m told there is only one commercial gun shop in the country, and that is run by the government. Legally obtaining the means to defend oneself in modern-day Mexico is essentially unobtainable for the typical Mexican. How then might we explain the fact that guns are so prevalent and human life so cheap in a place with such restrictive gun control legislation? It seems that Mexican criminals choose not to obey the law. That alongside the fact that the sun reliably comes up in the east battle for the title of Most Obvious Thing in the Universe.
On this fateful day, Maria was a passenger in one of six vehicles making up a convoy of Sinaloa Cartel operators. Mexican Army soldiers got wind of the convoy and moved in. There resulted an hours-long running gun battle.
Mexican troops eventually isolated the cartel shooters outside a safe house in Mocorito. Maria emerged from the SUV wielding an AK rifle and followed by drug cartel shooters. After a vigorous exchange of fire, the soldiers ultimately prevailed. Lamentably, that is not always the case. In the aftermath of the firefight Maria’s bullet-riddled body was found outside one of the vehicles alongside her Kalashnikov.
We have reviewed the Kalashnikov rifle in this venue before. This time I thought we might focus on the unique milieu of weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. These guns come from a variety of sources.
Much hay has obviously been made over guns procured on the US civilian market and smuggled south into Mexico for use by the cartels. This is not an unreasonable concern. We Americans currently possess some 440 million firearms. That’s twenty times as many guns as there are soldiers in all the world’s combined armies. Were I looking to equip a private army, here’s where I’d start. However, to fixate on American guns smuggled south is to lose all-important context.
Mexican drug cartels have as much money as some small nation states. They have a literal global reach in sourcing illicit narcotics for sale in the US. They have access to any weapons in the world. Many parts of the planet are awash in military hardware provided by the superpowers during decades of open proxy warfare. It would be tough to get excited about a no-frills Anderson Arms semiautomatic AR15 when El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, or a dozen different African nations stand by to supply as much legit military-grade ordnance as you can move.
While weapons sourced in the US are obviously semiautomatic, that really doesn’t make any difference. Anybody with a rudimentary milling machine or, in some cases, a 3D printer can convert most common semiautomatic weapons to full auto. Regardless, the addition of a happy switch to your typical AR or AK rifle is little more than a liability. Real soldiers use fully automatic fire from handheld small arms rarely if ever. The calculus changes with belt-fed support guns, but long bursts of full auto fire launched from assault rifles are found most commonly in the hands of movie stars and amateurs.
No discussion of this sort would be complete without mention of the Obama-era Operation Fast and Furious. Orchestrated out of the Tucson and Phoenix BATF offices and running from 2006 through 2011, Fast and Furious encouraged licensed American gun dealers to sell weapons to straw buyers with the full understanding that these guns would end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Fast and Furious guns were ultimately recovered from dozens of crime scenes. One Fast and Furious AK was used to murder US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010. Mexican officials tied Fast and Furious weapons to at least 150 deaths. Of the 2,000 or so weapons the Obama administration fed to the cartels, only 710 had been recovered by 2012.
Fast and Furious was obviously intended to provide media fodder to establish a connection between the American civilian gun industry and Mexican drug cartels. Equipped with such inflammatory information Democrats undoubtedly hoped to be able to push through fresh new gun control initiatives. Amidst a pantheon of breathtakingly stupid things the US government has done through the years, Fast and Furious is arguably the stupidest.
The Rest of the Story
Maria Gamez was not the first Mexican beauty queen to get caught up in cartel violence. However, she was the first to which I could find reference who was killed in action. Powerful criminals always seem to surround themselves with pretty girls. It has become a trope in movies.
The former Miss Sinaloa Laura Zuniga lost her 2008 crown from the Hispanoamerican Queen pageant after being arrested for drug and weapons violations. Zuniga was later released without being charged. Another model and prominent pageant participant was arrested in 2011 alongside a known drug runner and murder suspect, but she also was released.
The allure of easy money and easier power reliably brings out the worst in people. Javier Valdez, the author of Miss Narco, a book about the ties between beauty pageants and the Mexican drug cartels, said, “For a lot of these young women, it is easy to get involved with organized crime, in a country that doesn’t offer many opportunities for young people. They are disposable objects, the lowest link in the chain of criminal organizations, the young men recruited as gunmen and the pretty young women who are tossed away in two or three years, or are turned into police or killed.”
Latest Millitary News from the Russian Front – Institute for the Study of War (ISW) Russian Offensive Campaign Analysis for October 19
Institute for the Study of War
Katherine Lawlor, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan October 19, 8:00 pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and significant territorial losses in Kherson Oblast. Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Sergey Surovikin reported during an appearance on Russian television that the Russian military leadership has to make “difficult decisions” regarding Kherson Oblast and accused Ukraine of planning to strike civilian and residential infrastructure in Kherson Oblast. Kherson Occupation Head Vladimir Saldo relatedly noted that his administration is evacuating the west bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of a “large-scale” Ukrainian offensive. Surovikin‘s and Saldo’s statements are likely attempts to set information conditions for a full Russian retreat across the Dnipro River, which would cede Kherson City and other significant territory in Kherson Oblast to advancing Ukrainian troops. Russian military leaders have evidently learned from previous informational and operational failures during the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast and are therefore likely attempting to mitigate the informational and operational consequences of failing to defend against another successful Ukrainian advance. Russian forces are also setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). The Russian military may believe that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river. Surovikin claimed on October 18 that he has received information that Kyiv intends to strike the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), which he alleged would cause destructive flooding in Kherson Oblast. Saldo echoed this claim and warned that Ukrainian forces intend to strike dams upstream of Kherson City. Russian authorities likely intend these warnings about a purported Ukrainian strike on the Kakhovka HPP to set information conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and blame Ukraine for the subsequent damage and loss of life, all while using the resulting floods to cover their own retreat further south into Kherson Oblast. The Kremlin could attempt to leverage such a false-flag attack to overshadow the news of a third humiliating retreat for Russian forces, this time from western Kherson. Such an attack would also further the false Russian information operation portraying Ukraine as a terrorist state that deliberately targets civilians. Russia continues to use the guise of civilian “evacuations” as a cover for the mass forced removal of civilians from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Saldo’s announcement of a mass withdra
There is a lot of news today, both military and political. So I am going to have to divide the Posts again. This one will cover military news and, assuming I can manage it, a later post will cover political issues.
The Kherson Counter Offensive
“Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and significant territorial losses in Kherson Oblast. Commander of Russian Forces Surovikin reported during an appearance on Russian television that the Russian military leadership has to make “difficult decisions” regarding Kherson Oblast and accused Ukraine of planning to strike civilian and residential infrastructure in Kherson Oblast. Kherson Occupation Head Saldo relatedly noted that his administration is evacuating the west bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of a “large-scale” Ukrainian offensive. Surovikin‘s and Saldo’s statements are likely attempts to set information conditions for a full Russian retreat across the Dnipro River, which would cede Kherson City and other significant territory in Kherson Oblast to advancing Ukrainian troops. Russian military leaders have evidently learned from previous informational and operational failures during the recent Ukrainian counter offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and are therefore likely attempting to mitigate the informational and operational consequences of failing to defend against another successful Ukrainian advance.”
This paragraph shows that the Russians are less tone deaf to Ukrainian advances and are “setting conditions” (e.g., preparing Russians) for another upcoming defeat and withdrawal. The main questions appear to be how orderly such a retreat will be and what opportunities it will afford advancing Ukrainian troops.
“Russian forces are also setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP). The Russian military may believe that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river. Surovikin claimed on October 18 that he has received information that Kyiv intends to strike the dam, which he alleged would cause destructive flooding in Kherson Oblast. Saldo echoed this claim and warned that Ukrainian forces intend to strike dams upstream of Kherson City. Russian authorities likely intend these warnings about a purported Ukrainian strike on the KHPP to set information conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and blame Ukraine for the subsequent damage and loss of life, all while using the resulting floods to cover their own retreat further south into Kherson Oblast. The Kremlin could attempt to leverage such a false-flag attack to overshadow the news of a third humiliating retreat for Russian forces, this time from western Kherson. Such an attack would also further the false Russian information operation portraying Ukraine as a terrorist state that deliberately targets civilians.”
What possible reason Kyiv could have for taking such an action against its own civilians is not explained and makes no sense. This is just another example of Russia making inherently unbelievable claims and expecting them to be accepted. Of course, actually carrying the threat out would make things even worse.
“Russian sources widely claimed that Ukrainian troops conducted another general counter offensive in northwestern Kherson Oblast on October 19. A Russian occupation deputy claimed that Ukrainian troops went on the offensive around noon on October 19 and attacked from northern Kherson Oblast about 30km south of the Kherson Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border toward Beryslav. Other Russian sources similarly claimed that Ukrainian troops launched an offensive south of the Nova Kamianka-Dudchany area and attacked toward Sukhanove and Piatykhatky, both near the current frontline in northwestern Kherson Oblast and about 35km north of Beryslav. ISW is unable to verify these claims. Russian milbloggers (RMBs) reported that elements of the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade, 11th, 80th, and 83rd Air Assault Brigades, and 76th Guards Air Assault Division are holding the line of defense in this area and prevented significant Ukrainian advances. These elements, especially the 126th Coastal Defense Brigade, are severely degraded and understrength, and some have likely been active in Kherson Oblast without rest or rotation for most of the war.”
These elements were once among Russia’s most capable units, but have now been reduced to mere shadows of their former selves. Unless augmented by substantial numbers of additional troops, it is highly unlikely that they can hold the line in northern and northwestern Kherson. These units were probably chosen for the defense of this sector as they are more likely to be able to withdraw in better order than less experienced troops.
Beryslav is the major Russian supply and logistics point on the west bank of the Kokhovka Reservoir and presumably the Russians will abandon the northwestern part of the Oblast before Ukrainian troops can seriously threaten it.
“Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command (USOC) noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing “active combat operations” and focusing on “creating favorable conditions for the development of further offensives.” Ukrainian forces additionally continued their interdiction campaign against Russian concentration areas in Kherson Oblast as part of the ongoing counteroffensive. USOC and other Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian strikes destroyed three ammunition warehouses around Beryslav, Nova Kakhkovka, and Kherson City on October 18. Ukrainian strikes likely also hit a Russian ferry crossing 3km north of Nova Kakhovka on the opposing bank of the Dnipro River. Satellite imagery from October 18 shows that Russian troops have completed the creation of a barge bridge near Kherson City as part of an effort to reconstitute river crossings as Ukrainian troops continue to target Russian transportation capabilities across the Dnipro River.”
Both the Russian statements and their construction of a barge bridge (a bridge generally constructed of steel planking aid across barges and not terribly sturdy) is evidence that Russia is preparing to abandon Kherson west of the Dnipro, as their forces there are overstressed.
Nothing of substance new to report in Zaporizhzhya Oblast – Russia statements indicate likely false shelling by Ukrainian of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and a supposed amphibious assault to take it.
The Luhansk Counter Offensive
“Russian forces continued to conduct limited assaults to recapture lost territory in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast on October 19. The UGS reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults on Dvorichna, 17km northeast of Kupyansk in Kharkiv Oblast. The Luhansk People’s Republic Deputy Internal Minister reiterated claims that Russian forces captured Horobivka, also 17km northeast of Kupyansk on October 18, although ISW cannot independently verify that Russian forces have captured the settlement. The Russian Ministry of Defense (RMoD) claimed that Russian forces struck Ukrainian control points and concentrations of manpower and equipment throughout Kharkiv Oblast”.
“Russian and Ukrainian forces reportedly continued fighting along the Kreminna to Svatove line on October 19. A Russian source claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian assault on the Kyslivk in the direction of Svatove. The RMoD claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian formations that attempted to cross the Zherebets River 16km northwest of Svatove, 15km west of Svatove, 11km west of Svatove) in Luhansk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground assault near Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna). A RMB claimed that Russian and Ukrainian forces are continuing to fight west of Kreminna in the vicinity of Terny, 18km northwest of Kreminna, and Torski, 16km west of Kreminna, although ISW cannot independently verify his claims.”
It appears that, for now, Ukrainian forces are largely defending against Russian attacks in northeastern Ukraine. Given that the Russians claim the capture of only one small village (which is not confirmed), it indicates that the Ukrainians are not overextended and are able to repel what appear to be largely limited and local counter attacks.
Fighting in Donetsk
“The UGS reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks south of Bakhmut near four villages. Russian sources claimed that fighting is ongoing in Optyne and on Bakhmut’s eastern outskirts. Russian sources also claimed that fighting is ongoing in Soledar’s industrial zone and near Spirne, 18km northeast of Soledar. The UGS also reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks northeast of Avdiivka, west of Donetsk City, and in western Donetsk Oblast. A Russian source claimed that Russian forces are continuing to fight southwest of Avdiivka. A Russian source also claimed that Russian forces attacked fortified Ukrainian positions in Marinka, and geolocated footage confirmed that Russian forces have advanced further down the highway north of Marinka. A Russian source claimed that positional battles are ongoing in the Vuhledar area in western Donetsk Oblast, and a different Russian source expressed continued concern that Ukrainian forces may launch a counter offensive in the Vuhledar area.”
Another day without even Russian claims of having captured a village – it appears that even their limited and local counter attacks are failing now. On the other hand, the rumors of another Ukrainian offensive – either in western Donetsk or northeastern Zaporizhzhya continue as a subject of great concern for the RMB community.
Ukrainian attacks in Kherson appear to have cracked the Russian lines and forced them to prepare for withdrawal from the Oblast west of the Dnipro. However, announcing in advance that a retreat may occur is not necessarily good news for the Ukrainians, as it could indicate that the withdrawal will be less disordered than previous Russian retreats. Also, the apparent intention to blow the Kakhovka Dam is worrisome, although how much damage that would cause is unknown. The period of easy advances for the Ukrainians has at least temporarily ended in the northeast and seems to have come to a pause. To make sure that Ukrainian advances don’t halt altogether, the Western allies need to provide the Ukrainians additional support at this critical juncture.
Machine guns are among the most tightly registered products in the United States. Regular people can’t legally buy one built after 1986 and the handful remaining from before that date cost as much as a car or even, depending on the weapon, a house.
They’re not exactly affordable or readily available.
A Navy sailor based in Virginia was convicted Monday of receiving, possessing, and selling multiple unregistered machine guns months after a search of his home uncovered a veritable arsenal of heavy weaponry.
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Patrick Tate Adamiak, 28, was first arrested and indicted in April. According to court documents, between October 2021 and April 2022, Tate — who was not a registered firearms dealer — sold unregistered parts and complete weapons to undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
A subsequent search of Adamiak’s home uncovered 25 unregistered machine guns, as well as two grenade launchers and two anti-tank missile launchers, according to federal prosecutors.
First, for those unfamiliar with Navy ranks, those are made up of two components. One is the rank as most think of it–whether they’re petty officer 3rd class, 2nd class, or chief petty officer, or whatever. The first part describes their job.
For example, I was a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class when I got out.
Adamiak was a Master-at-Arms 1st Class, though. In short, that means he was a Navy cop. Yes, the shore patrol can be made up of people from various ratings throughout the Navy, but a Master-at-Arms is a specialist in law enforcement and force protection.
And that is who was selling machine guns and sporting their own collection of missile launchers.
The investigation into Adamiak began in October of 2021 when he was contacted for parts for a Thompson submachine gun by ATF agents. From there, he kept providing products until he included receivers for machine guns.
Now, he’s been locked up.
Yet everything about this is a firm reminder of just how the Law of Supply and Demand works with regard to black market guns. If there is a demand, someone will step up to supply the goods to meet that demand. The more the demand, the higher the price commanded and the more likely others will step in to meet that demand and get a piece of that pie.
Adamiak did just that, and there’s literally nothing that would have stopped him from doing so.
As a member of the Navy and a master-at-arms, this is someone who had been vetted previously. There was literally nothing in his background up until this point that would have raised a red flag, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been in this role.
Yet you want to tell me that just another couple of gun control laws would stop this guy?
He was selling machine guns, for crying out loud. I can’t get one legally based on the current laws, but this guy was selling them out of his house where he also had missile and grenade launchers.
Sorry, but if this doesn’t show you how gun control laws don’t stop criminals, only provides opportunities for them, I don’t know what will.
The Gunfight at the OK Corral, the Wild West’s most famous gun battle, lasts just 30 seconds with approximately 30 shots being fired. The gunfight occurs on October 26, 1881, killing Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton. Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday are wounded. Wyatt Earp is not injured in the shootout.
After the fight the bodies of the dead outlaws are displayed in a window at a local undertakers with the sign: “Murdered in the Streets of Tombstone.” Contrary to what has been depicted in movies about the Gunfight at the OK Corral, the Cowboys did have some popular support, and the Earps were not universally liked. Several hundred people join the funeral procession for the dead Cowboys, and as many as 2,000 people watch from the streets.
The gunfight may have been the climax of the conflict between the Cowboys and the Earps, but the events of this story lasted many more months. On the map below, click on the markers to view details on some of the key events from this story.
October 30, 1881
Despite many months of Cowboy threats, Ike Clanton was able to file murder charges against the Earps following the gun battle. Virgil and Morgan could not leave home due to the injuries they sustained in the gunfight, so Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday are the only two to be arrested and they spent 16 days in jail during the hearing.
The hearing concluded on November 30th with Justice Spicer concluding that the Earp’s and Holliday had not broken the law in the events leading up to, or during, the fight.
Ike Clanton again files murder charges against the Earp’s, this time in nearby Contention City. Fearing an ambush, a large posse escorts the Earp’s to the court appearance. The charges are quickly dropped.
December 14, 1881
Justice Spicer receives anonymous death threats and is ordered to leave town. Tombstone mayor John Clum, who had been a supporter of the Earps, is the target of a murder attempt.
December 28, 1881
Virgil Earp is ambushed and hit in the left arm with a shotgun. The wound is serious, and Virgil must carry the arm in a sling for the rest of his life. The following day, Wyatt Earp is appointed as Deputy U.S. Marshal for eastern Pima County.
January 25, 1882
Wyatt leads a posse to Charleston to search for Virgil’s assailants. Upon returning to Tombstone, they find that several Cowboys had turned themselves in but for lesser charges, apparently in an attempt to escape the posse’s wrath. The charges against the outlaws are dropped due to lack of evidence.
February 9, 1882
Ike Clanton once again files charges against the Earp’s in Contention City. The Earp’s travel to Contention City under heavy guard for fear of a Cowboy Ambush. The judge refuses to indict the Earp’s without new evidence.
Virgil Earp is no longer drawing a salary and for increased security the brothers and their wives had been living at the Cosmopolitan Hotel since the gunfight. Hard up for cash, Wyatt takes out a mortgage on his house and ultimately loses the house when he defaults on the loan.
March 18, 1882
While playing a late round of billiards, shots are fired through the billiard hall window, and Morgan Earp is struck in the spine by the gunfire. Morgan dies from his wounds less than an hour later.
Cowboy Pete Spence, who is suspected in Morgan’s murder, turns himself into Sheriff Behan presumably so he could be protected in Behan’s jail. Charges against Spence are dropped due to lack of evidence. Doc Holliday would later say that he considered Behan responsible for the assassination of Morgan Earp.
March 21, 1882
Wyatt received information that Frank Stilwell, Ike Clanton, and two other cowboys are watching the passenger trains in Tucson intending to kill Virgil Earp, who is leaving Tombstone for California. Wyatt forms a posse with Warren Earp, Doc Holliday, “Turkey Creek” Jack Johnson, and Sherman McMaster to accompany Virgil and Allie (Virgil’s wife) to the rail head in Benson. They board the train to Tucson along with Virgil and his wife, armed with pistols, rifles and shotguns.
Upon their arrival in Tucson, the Earp posse spot Stilwell and other Cowboys. “Almost the first men we met on the platform there were Stilwell and his friends, armed to the teeth”, Virgil later told the San Francisco Examiner “Upon seeing the posse, the Cowboys initially withdraw. Returning later to finish the job, the Cowboys are met with gunfire from the Earp posse, and Frank Stilwell is killed.”
The Tucson sheriff issues arrest warrants for Wyatt and Warren Earp, Holliday, McMaster, and Johnson for the death of Frank Stilwell.
Following the events in Tucson, Wyatt concludes that they will get no justice from the courts, and that it was time to take the law into their own hands. It turns out that Wyatt will not be going it alone though, as some Federal assistance becomes available as attitudes start to sour about the lawlessness of the Tombstone area.
With funds available to hire more men, Wyatt and Warren Earp, Doc Holliday, Johnson and McMaster are now joined by “Texas Jack” Vermillion, Dan Tipton, Charlie Smith, Fred Dodge, Johnny Green, and Louis Cooley to form a federal posse under Wyatt’s authority as the Deputy US Marshal.
March 22, 1882
County sheriff Behan forms his own posse consisting of many deputized cowboys, including Johnny Ringo, Phineas Clanton, Johnny Barnes and about 18 more men. The posse rides out to arrest Wyatt and his men for the murder of Frank Stilwell.
That morning, Earp’s posse locates and kills wanted cowboy “Indian Charlie” Cruz.
March 24, 1882
The Earp Posse unknowingly ride into a Cowboy camp at Iron Springs. The Earp posse had six men at this encounter, to the Cowboy’s nine. Both parties were surprised, and gunfire started almost immediately. Curly Bill shot at Wyatt but missed. Wyatt returned the fire and hit Bill in the chest with a shotgun blast, killing him instantly.
In the ensuing chaos, members of Earp’s posse were pinned down by Cowboy gunfire. Wyatt, still standing in the middle of the fight, without cover, shot Johnny Barnes in the chest and Milt Hicks in the arm. Wyatt was then able to get back on his horse and retreat. Incredibly, he was shot seven times through his clothes, but none of the shots injured him.
March 25, 1882
Sheriff Behan again rides out with a 25-man posse in pursuit of Earp’s posse. he pursues the Earp’s for 10 days, but never finds them.
The true story Wyatt Earp’s vendetta ride is much less spectacular than movies like Tombstone have portrayed. After killing “Indian Charlie” Cruz and Curly Bill Brocius, it seems that Wyatt considered his brother’s avenged, or maybe he was well aware of how lucky they had all been over the last few days.
Whatever the reason, the Earp Posse left Arizona and hid out in New Mexico for several weeks. Near the end of April, the posse split up, and Wyatt and Doc left the lawless territory behind permanently.
17 MILLION ROUNDS! Long-time @winchesterrepeatingarms employee John Riedel at work targeting rifles in the Shooting Gallery located at Tract C-84 of the Winchester Factory in New Haven. Some days, Riedel would shoot as many as 250 guns, five shots through each. He would eventually test-fire an estimated 17 million rounds or more through Winchester firearms before he retired from the company in 1943. He reportedly regretted having to leave during wartime production, expressing genuine concern that every firearm leaving the factory needed to be exactly right, a feeling of personal responsibility that was undoubtedly shared by many or all at the time.
The King Colt SAA .357 Magnum rests on a picture of the detail of the short action
hammer as found in the book Home Gunsmithing The Colt Single Action.
Coolness is definitely in the eye of the beholder. There are many firearms that have been labeled cool, however it all depends on individual taste. I have seen a few really cool sixguns in my 60+ years of shooting, however I recently came onto the “coolest” sixgun I’ve ever seen, or at least I have ever experienced personally, and it is not only cool — it’s Old School Cool.
One of my best friends works in the local Cabela’s Gun Library and I’ve come up with some very cool sixguns over the years just by stopping in to visit once in a while. One trip netted me a Colt New Service .38 Special, which is right up there on the coolness factor. However my recent trip uncovered what may rightly be over the top of the cool column. As we were visiting my friend said I have something here you probably would like to see. Talk about the understatement of the year.
He brought out a pre-War Colt Single Action Army, making it an already cool sixgun. However, this was not just any ordinary SAA but a very special custom version. I told him I was definitely interested but he had to tell me someone else already had spoken for it. I was disappointed, of course, however I at least got to see it.
I ran a few errands and when I got home a couple hours later I got a call from my friend. “The fellow who was interested said he could not afford it. It’s yours if you want it.” At those words my sixgunnin’ heart soared high and then was immediately dashed to the deepest depths when he told me the price. I could immediately understand why the first fella said he could not afford it. However, as I thought about it I felt I really could not afford to not afford it, if that makes sense! I took some of the advice I often give in situations like this which is a year from now you won’t miss the money. Well that was two months ago as this is written and I did buy it and I already don’t miss the money. So it appears my advice to others and to myself is sound.
Note the wide checkered trigger and adjustable rear sight on the King Custom Colt.
King featured a full-length rib on this Colt .357 Magnum. Note the “cockeyed” hammer spur.
Checking the serial number I found this was a Colt Single Action manufactured in 1921. It was chambered in .357 Magnum, which did not arrive until 1935. So some time between 1935 and the beginning of WWII it was sent back to Colt to be converted to the then relatively new .357 Magnum, with a 5″ barrel. But this was only the beginning. It was then turned over to the King Gun Sight Company for extensive custom work.
D.W. King was a rifle marksman who was not satisfied with the sights generally available, so decided to make his own. This was in the late 1920s, and he formed the King Gun Sight Co. King not only provided rifle sights, he did a brisk business applying custom sights to sixguns, especially for target shooters. A look at some pictures of his custom work will show his ideas were later incorporated into factory guns.
In addition to the sights, he did custom work such as cockeyed hammers and wide triggers, both set up for a short action. Elmer Keith had his 71/2″ .44 Special Colt Single Action worked over by King. In addition to ivory stocks Keith had this .44 Special fitted with a barrel band front sight, a fully adjustable rear sight and a King short action. The King Gun Sight Co. could not survive after the death of the founder and disappeared in the early 1950s. For a delightful trip down memory lane, reprinted catalogs are available from Cornell Publications (www.cornellpubs.com). I have both the 1931 and 1939 copies and it’s easy to see from these the influence King had on the industry.
On my King Colt the old hard-to-see front sight and hog wallow trough rear sight were replaced by a full-length rib on the barrel featuring a fully adjustable rear sight mated with a post front sight having a reddish-orange insert. At the base of the sight we find the little mirror designed to reflect light onto the back of the rear sight. The hammer is totally different from anything Colt ever made and has been worked over to provide a short action. The full-cocked hammer position now is normally where half-cock is on a standard Colt Single Action.
The hammer has also been lightened, having holes drilled on the side to remove weight and provide a faster lock time. For easy cocking the hammer is the King Cockeyed Hammer with a wide hammer spur and extra width on the left hand side of the hammer spur to serve a right-handed shooter. Mated with the King Hammer is a special wide trigger, checkered as many target triggers were in those days.
The King short action hammer is shown at full cocked position.
Used, Not Abused
The action remains tight however it’s obvious this sixgun has seen a lot of use as the finish is well worn. The left side of the barrel is marked “COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .357 MAGNUM” with the first two words not quite as visible as the rest of the inscription, telling me it’s been in and out of a holster often. When this sixgun was put together by someone who really appreciated a quality Perfect Packin’ Pistol, the .357 Magnum was the most powerful cartridge available. From the wear on the finish I can at least imagine this Old School Cool sixgun saw a lot of use and probably took a lot of small game and possibly even deer, and maybe a cougar or black bear. It certainly exudes this type of coolness.
As beautiful as this sixgun is I have to say it’s absolutely the most exasperating sixgun I’ve encountered in over 60 years of shooting. Many sixguns will shoot anything well that will fit in the cylinder. Not so this gun. The first load I tried resulted in an Ah-Oh moment. The group was well over 3″ at 20 yards. To date I have test-fired two dozen handloads along with one factory .357 Magnum and one factory .38 Special load. Just about the time I thought I had it figured out and started to get decent groups it would turn around and go the other way.
Colt .357 Magnum barrels are usually quite tight so I tried both .357 Magnum and 9mm bullets and also cast bullets sized to .358″ and .356″ to see how much difference it would make. With some loads the smaller diameter work well, with one notable example being the Keith #358429 bullet sized to the smaller diameter and loaded over 11.0 grains of #2400 in .357 Magnum brass. Muzzle velocity was right at 1,050 fps and a group just over 1″. I thought I had found the secret, but it was only with this particular bullet.
Two loads at totally opposite ends of the spectrum gave the best accuracy. These loads were the Black Hills 100-gr. ARX bulleted Honey Badger .38 Special load and a handload consisting of a 200-gr. NEI #200.358GC bullet in .357 Magnum cases loaded over 12.5 grains of IMR 4227. The Honey badger clocked out at just over 1,000 fps, while the heavy bullet load was right at 960 fps. The Honey Badger grouped into 11/8″ while the 200-gr. cast bullet gave me the best accuracy, with five shots into 7/8″. This isn’t an extremely powerful load however it will certainly do as an everyday carry load.
John’s starting to get the King Custom SAA to shoot but more work is needed to find “just” the right load.
I did experience some misfires mainly due to the fact I did nothing to this sixgun before initial firings. It performed much better after having a total stripping and cleaning of decades of crud removed from all internal parts, and the application of a quality lube. I also installed a new full-power Colt mainspring that definitely solved the problem of misfires. Since this is a short action sixgun the normally long travel of the hammer when the trigger is pulled has been changed to only about half the distance. With the new mainspring I’ve not experienced any misfires.
Now I find myself in somewhat of a dilemma — to refinish or not? Normally I would not consider refinishing a First Generation Colt Single Action, however this is not a factory original sixgun. I can see it beautifully re-blued with a case-hardened frame and hammer and fitted with ivory stocks. However, on the other hand would I be removing some true sixgun history in the process? For now I will simply enjoy it as it is. Drop Roy a note at [email protected] and let him know your thoughts. We’ll all figure it out together!