Most settlers and ranchers owned a rifle or gun of sorts for protection and for killing fresh meat, but not every man, woman and child had a gun on their person. A gun was purchased specifically for protection from bandits and hunting but the belief that everybody carried their gun into town is a dime novel and Hollywood invention of fiction. Guns were relatively expensive compared to the amount of money people had and people spent whatever money they had on a weapon that they could actually use, not a six shooter that was never used in gun fights.
Every town, I mean every town, had strict gun control laws on the books. Laws regulating ownership and carry of firearms, apart from the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, were passed at a local level rather than by Congress. Carrying any kind of weapon, guns or knives, was not allowed other than outside town borders and at the home. The quarter horse was essential to life on the frontier for very good reasons: They could do almost everything. Heavily muscled, hardy, and acutely intelligent, quarter horses were indespensible. But did everybody ride one?
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