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How Guns Became Ingrained In Our Culture. First Came The Cowboys; Then Came the NRA

Updated on September 30, 2015

Western Shoot 'em up Movies

Scene From The Wild Bunch
Scene From The Wild Bunch

Toy Gun and Holster Sets Were The RageFor Kids

We can thank Tom Mix, Lash LaRue, and a whole generation of ancient cowboys from the early days of television for our infatuation with guns . That infatuation began sometime in the 1950s to be exact. These were the early days of the new medium we called television. It was about that time affordable TV was introduced to the public. As the television sets became available, those families who could afford this miracle of science huddled around their miniscule 10” black and white screens to watch the beginnings of home we know it today.

Early programming offered only a few hours each day of programming. Unfortunately, viewing options were limited. The venues in the early days of TV were heavy on the two W's: Wrestling and Western movies. Those of us of growing up in those early days made heroes of Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Johnny Mack Brown, John Wayne and scores of other cowboys. We became enamored with the good guys but also developed deep feelings for bandits like Billy the Kid, Jesse James and host of other bad guys. Gunfights were the favorite part of these productions. The more shooting, the more we loved the movie. For most of us, this was our introduction to guns, shoot outs and mass violence, Hollywood’s style. The bad guys wore black hats; the good guys wore white and we impressionable kids followed suit.

What they all had in common were six shooters, Winchester rifles and wide brimmed hats. The good guys were always just a bit faster at the draw than the villains and shot and killed their way through episode after episode and movie after movie. Every young boy wanted to be a gun toting cowboy hero. The most favorite and most often requested gift request for Christmas and birthdays were cap gun six shooters and holster sets and Red Ryder BB guns. The western fad lasted for decades, later to be replaced by GI Joe weaponry and later, assault weapons.

This was how guns innocently became an accepted part of our culture. It happened in ways that we thought were harmless and innocent.. The reality was that the process helped dull our senses to the issues that would soon follow succeeding generations.

When we became adults, it was common for us to buy toy guns for our children. The guns became more advanced over the years and kept pace with the changes in the gun industry. From simple cap guns, our children advanced to guns that were authentic reproductions of automatic weapons. They played violent games, made make believe war, imitated cops and robbers and perpetuated the violent history of guns. Kids grew up and traded their cap shooting six shooters for the real thing and the rest is history. Blame it on the cowboys who were replaced by the NRA

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