Bass Reeves.

EDITORIAL: Wild Everywhere

There's a TV mini-series currently running and it tells the story of Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves. 

Reeves is a true historical character, a slave born in 1838. According to Wikipedia he was an enslaved Manservant, runaway slave, gunfighter, farmer, scout, tracker, Railroad Agent and Deputy U.S. Marshal. He spoke and understood the Five Civilized Tribal languages including Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and Creek.

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Bass was one of the first African-American Deputy U.S. Marshals west of the Mississippi River, mostly working in the deadly Indian Territory. The region was saturated with horse thieves, cattle rustlers, gunslingers, bandits, bootleggers, swindlers, and murderers. Bass made more than 3,000 to 4,000 arrests in his lifetime, only killing twenty men in the line of duty.

The series takes us into some real wild country back in the days of the "Wild West." As you watch it you expect violence in every town, a gun behind every tree. That's the way it was. Sadly, and tragically, that's the way it still is.

Here it is in the words of the Washington Post this week: "Three members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force were fatally shot during a standoff Monday while trying to serve a warrant in Charlotte. A Charlotte police officer died hours later from injuries he suffered during the incident. Four other law enforcement officers were wounded, and the person they were pursuing was killed.

"The task force members were attempting to serve a warrant for possession of a firearm by a felon when they were met with gunfire at a Charlotte residence, police said."

This wasn't the Wild West. It was the Wild East, specifically North Carolina.  As such, it was part of Wild Everywhere in gun-mad America.

Added the Post report: "President Biden expressed his sympathies in a statement Monday night, describing the officers who were killed as 'heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, rushing into harm’s way to protect us.' In the statement, he also called on Congress to 'ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of guns, and pass universal background checks and a national red flag law.'"

Any chance? Well, we can always hope. But don't hold your breath. 

There will be a lot of hearts and prayers stuff going out yet again but the sacred nature of guns in our society, including military grade weapons, overwhelms sanity and the need to better ensure that the men and women of law enforcement can at least be moderately assured that they will go home to their loved ones at the end of shift.

When it comes to guns, however, America is stuck in a state of arrested development. The end of shift is all too often literally an end. It's a condition that Bass Reeves would have known all too well.