Reader’s Question: no guns?

From Perryavenue on Tumblr:

Why didn’t Renaldo and Hank carry guns with them for protection? Eduardo had a gun when he was at his parents’ home, wouldn’t Renaldo and Hank carry guns when they’re traveling along open and rough terrain with potential predators (both animal and human)?

Fun (and probably shocking) fact, most cowboys didn’t carry guns! Turns out that’s a Hollywood fabrication. Guns were expensive, hard to maintain, and cumbersome as a guy on a horse. Six shooters? Super pricey. You had a rifle if you were a frontiersman (bear, wolves), and you had a handgun if you were a man of the law, but cowboys? They were the bottom of the barrel.

I cannot stress enough how low on the totem pole cowboys were at this time.  Cowboy = guy who literally rode next to or behind a herd of cattle on a cattle drive for very little pay.  They didn’t have the funds or need for such hardware. It was considered a dangerous practice to carry a pistol, and wasn’t something that was looked upon with positivity. (Not to mention that handguns were considered a luxury item.)

A dispatch from the Texas Live Stock Journal dated June 5, 1884, 14 years after Bitter Springs is set:

The six-shooter loaded with deadly cartridges is a dangerous companion for any man, especially if he should unfortunately be primed with whiskey. Cattlemen should unite in aiding the enforcement of the law against carrying of deadly weapons.” 

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