Category Archives: Shootings

The Lesson We Can Learn from Doc Holliday’s Last Gun Fight

Doc(tor) John Henry Holliday is one of the most famous gunfighters in the world.  He is legendary.  A southern gentleman with tuberculosis went west where he met another man who would be a lawman turned gunfighter: Wyatt Earp.  Together, with Earps two brothers, Doc Holliday fought against the Cowboys at the OK Corral.  He helped Wyatt hunt down those who killed Morgan and wounded Virgil.  In all, by the time Doc Holliday died at the age of 36, he had killed at least 30 men.

I find his last gunfight interesting though.  A man by the name of Billy Allen loaned this gunfighting gambler $5 because he was short on cash.  Holliday never returned the $5, and Allen was more than a bit upset.  He demanded time and again that Doc repay him.  He finally threatened him.  “Calmly Holliday advised Allen not to start anything unless he had a gun in each hand,” (Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West, James Reasoner; Berkley Books).  Allen took his advice and armed himself.  He entered the saloon where Doc was playing, calling him out.

Even in Doc’s condition: dying, in pain, and slow, this legendary gunslinger shot twice (the first missing) before Allen could get one shot out.  Allen was hit in the right arm, causing him to drop his weapon.  Doc was finished.  He didn’t kill the foolish man before him.  Holliday was arrested, tried, and found not guilty due to self-defense.  He later died due to his illness.

What can we learn from this story?  Never underestimate your enemy just because it looks sick and dying.  We all too often underestimate our sin.  We think it is behind us, sick and dying.  We think we can challenge it, play around with it, or even fight it on our own.  The moment we underestimate the enemy is the moment we get shot.  Sometimes its a wound but other times it can be deadly (remember Doc killed 30 men before wounding Billy Allen).  The fight is deadly business and so Paul told us to put on the full armor of God.  Even though the fight is not against flesh and blood but is a spiritual fight, we must be ready to defend and protect ourselves in it.

There will be many sins with which we seem to have no issue.  They hardly seem to tempt us at all.  So we befriend them (loan the $5).  What’s the harm?  Yes, they have killed many before, but surely they won’t hurt us.  Then we become obsessed with them (foolishly getting in their faces).  They’re all we can think about, even if they could cost us our lives.  Finally we call ’em out.  Maybe we’ve had enough, maybe we want to show how “good” we are.  But we are no match.  The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is week.  Before we can give them a final blow to kill it, they kill us (maybe physically, but definitely spiritually, reputationally, emotionally).

We are to do battle, but we are to do battle in the Lord’s strength, not our own.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, (Ephesians 6:10, ESV).  That’s the putting on the armor of God completely.  That’s bathing the situation in prayer.  That’s calling on others to give you a hand.  Don’t be a Billy Allen going up against a Doc Holliday (and they’re all Doc Hollidays).

They Just Don’t Hold Water

I have heard many arguments on why AR-15s or the like should not be banned, but I am not convinced that these arguments hold water.  I am willing to be convinced that they do, but for now I’m not seeing it.

  1. Only the law-abiding citizens will obey the law.  The criminals will not.  That’s true.  That’s what makes them criminals.  They commit crimes.  They break laws.  We could say that about any law.  We ought not outlaw theft because only the law-abiding citizens would not steal.  We ought not outlaw murder because only the law-abiding citizens would obey.  We shouldn’t have speed limits because only law-abiding citizens would go the 55 mph required.  I’m not sure if law-making should be based on who will and who will not obey the law.
  2. We have the right to defend ourselves.  Yes.  You and I absolutely have that right.  Again, I normally have a 9mm that I legally conceal carry on me.  I do not go around with an AR-15 however. I’ve never met anyone who does.  They are a bit difficult to conceal.  However, people may have them in their homes.  Again, it is their right.  However (and this may just be me), if someone breaks into my home, I would not be reaching for my AR-15, as it is not the easiest to grab, aim, and shoot.  There are too many of my family members around.  I would go for my 9mm.  I’m not sure how many times I would need an AR-15 for self-defense.  I know. I know.  But that one time I do need it, I will wish I had it.
  3. We are allowed to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government.  I admit, that was the original intent when the amendment was written.  That was written, however, before the tank, submarine, aerial warfare, drones, ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, and such weapons as these, which none of us can own (except non-lethal drones), and which none of us would really be able to defend against in the first place.
  4. People who want to kill will find a way to do it.  I’ve seen these memes out there with a lighter saying, “Ban semi-automatic matches.”  Or there’s the argument that we would need to ban trucks since they are used to run into crowds.  Like the first argument, we cannot make laws based on people’s abilities to skirt around those laws.  Otherwise, we will have no laws.  To make light of the predicament that we are in, doesn’t help matters; it only muddies the water.  We cannot stop all crimes (or all murders) from happening; that is true.  We can however seek to curb the number of these in logical ways.
  5. This isn’t a gun matter; it’s a heart matter.  That is true, but that’s true about everything.  It isn’t a prostitution matter; it’s a heart matter. It isn’t a heroine matter; it’s a heart matter.  It isn’t a stealing matter; it’s a heart matter.  Those are all true to a degree.  However, most people are not against the laws against any of those issues.  The Ten Commandments were based on curbing the heart-issues becoming hand-issues.  They were made to keep what was in the heart away from being acted upon.  That’s how all laws work.  Just because it is a heart matter does not mean that it is not a gun matter.  It’s both.  We cannot cure the heart (only Jesus Christ can do that), but we can curb the act.