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By Joe Zimmerman

In today’s television world, programmers have turned their backs on guns. With last year’s cancellation of the Discovery channel’s series “American Guns,” “Ted Nugent’s Gun Country” and others, liberal democrats are on a warpath to remove firearms-related shows from their programming lineup. Their mission: make life safer for our children. Unfortunately, the American public is being fed a steady diet of misinformation from the narrow-minded people protesting networks and their advertisers. These activists who lack common sense have no comprehension of the rich and historical role guns have played in American TV. A look back in time reveals a history where guns on TV were plentiful and, yes, our children were very safe indeed . . .

Virtually every hero we grew up watching on TV strapped a piece to his or her side. Whether you were watching “Star Trek,” “Bonanza,” “I Spy,” “The Beverly Hillbilies,” “Starsky and Hutch” or “Get Smart,” all the lead characters at some point wisely carried an insurance policy with them. Comedy, science fiction, dramas, westerns, cartoons, it didn’t matter, guns were plentiful on TV and played an important part of our American culture in a positive and constructive way. And I repeat, for Mr. Obama’s sake, that our children were safe. So please stop hiding behind our youth, lying and scaring the hell out of everyone as you use our kids as props for your anti-gun agenda, Mr. President.

For this writer, no other television program displayed the virtues of the gun better than the classic show, “The Rifleman.” A western that starred a professional baseball and basketball star turned actor, Chuck Conners, as Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark.

 

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The show Aired between 1958 and 1963 and was about a single parent in the late 1880s who was raising his son near the town of North Fork, New Mexico. The key to the show’s success wasn’t the rifle, a modified 1892 Winchester with a strategically placed pin-screw imbedded into the large loop lever, which made the weapon fire every time the lever was fully cycled. Instead, the show’s success was based around the relationship between father and son.

As a single parent myself, I appreciate the fact that “The Rifleman’s” objective in each episode was to incorporate and educate the viewer about things like morality, justice, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and everything in between. Quoting lessons from the good book and teaching his son the right from wrong, Lucas McCain was a symbol of what was great about America.

With his rifle turned into a superior semi-automatic weapon of the day, Lucas protected, educated, helped and fought alongside his fellow countrymen. The town of North Fork wouldn’t have been the safe haven it was without that gun. Although not the key to the show’s success, McCain’s rifle was nevertheless important enough that it could almost be considered a third cast member – a character that the McCains, as well as the television viewer, admired and respected.

Lucas’s rifle was so popular that it became a TV star itself, and for good reason. With common sense and family values, McCain illustrated the virtues of this gun every week and American children throughout the country honored the show by playing with the cap-gun flip-action replica version manufactured by the Hubley company back in 1958.

With life lessons in each show, a perfect example of our current administration’s policy is was illustrated in an episode entitled “The Day A Town Slept.” A new Marshal, Ben Judson, is elected and self-righteously states “the town felt it was time for a change.” As such, Lucas is ordered to “check in” his rifle, as the new marshal was enforcing a strict gun control ordinance.

McCain, being the law-abiding citizen he was, very reluctantly, and with suspicion, turned in his rifle. But the meaning of the new marshal’s “change” soon became fully realized and the situation turned for the worse. Eventually McCain decides to retrieve his weapon to right a wrong, suggesting an unarmed society isn’t an option for a free and just society.

In another episode entitled “The Schoolmaster,” Lucas is warned by the new school teacher not to bring his rifle anywhere near the school grounds (sound familiar?). After McCain’s rifle accidentally falls off their wagon, Mark reaches down to give it back to his father. In his attempt to lift the gun, the teacher barks at the boy, ordering him not to touch the gun. Mark replies that “it’s not good for a rifle to be in the dirt.” The boy’s common sense response fell on deaf ears as the teacher is shown to be an emotionally strict man, set in his ways (don’t talk back, just do as I say). Again, sound familiar? But Lucas speaks his piece and makes his point regarding the teacher’s stance and we’re better for it.

The lessons taught and learned from shows like “The Rifleman” are more important today than ever. It’s a shame that the main depiction of guns on TV today are almost exclusively when they cause death and destruction. The example of Lucas McCain, as a role model with rifle in hand, is badly needed to remind people that the gun can also stand for freedom, justice, security and sometimes yes, just plain old fun.

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Gone are the days when Lou Costello could pull out his snub-nose cap gun and fire away at his rival, Stinky on “The Abbott and Costello Show.” But, we have a humorless anti-gun administration with delusional activists who, if they’d only look back in time, would realize that when guns were plentiful on national TV and shows with some common sense like “The Rifleman” dominated our airwaves, American children were indeed safe.

56 Responses to Five Hundred Channels and Nothing’s Worth Watching

  1. Not really television, but symptomatic of Hollywood, it really annoyed me to see that “woody” in “Toy Story”, a quintessential American cowboy toy, NEVER had a pistol in his holster. And yet the spaceman’s laser worked. (!) Sort of.

      • I truly doubt that’s the reason Obama’s trying to take our guns.
        He’s point man for an obvious agenda, and within said agenda, there’s no place for us being able to form and organize resistance.

        If he had been born in, say, Chicago (his old stomping grounds), the agenda would be the same, as would his fondness for it. THE MAN’S A TOOL, can’t you get that through your heads?

    • Seems like you never understood Woody- his disarmed condition reflects how he perceives himself, as helpless before a new cooler toy, as well as a cast away toy. He was damaged, missing pieces, making him less cool the the new guy with all the bells and whistles. Who woody was never had anything to do with firearms.

      • What bothered me was a couple years ago finding an unarmed prospector at Toys R Us (from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer), when clearly he had a revolver in the film. I wrote a complaint to the manufacturer and am still waiting for a response.

  2. Ever notice in the Wizard of Oz, just before the flying monkeys make their entrance, Scarecrow is walking through the woods with…a revolver.

  3. “The Rifleman” was from another time. If it was on TV today, it would be about a single mother who tamed the West by reading “The Feminine Mystique” to the primitive knuckle-draggers.

      • What a well written piece.

        I grew up with these shows and many others of that time. They were a huge reinforcement to ones moral compass and always fun to watch.

        The entertainment industry of today cannot come close to providing the classy programming of that time; and that’s really too bad because these days it is truly needed.

        • Agree, Roscoe. Believe it or not, there were plans to re-do “The Rifleman” last year by several high profile producers but for what ever reason it never materialized. Besides, I don’t think it could ever match the Orginal 🙂

  4. I love the Rifleman. When I go home and visit my parents we always end up watching it. When I was a kid, the show had been off of the air for almost 20 years.

    The one thing in older shows is they usually showed people with guns as responsible. Not psychotic criminals.

    • I watched the first few episodes on Hulu tonight. It was pretty disturbing to realize I have to go back 50 years to find a show that reflects my values.

      • I dunno – Stargate SG-1 reflected armament and the military in a positive light, and was recent. Come to think of it, sci-fi generally takes a sensible attitude toward arms,

        On the Rifleman: Micah, the town “cop,” was seldom called upon and unfailingly a good guy. We could use more of that, as well.

  5. I recently had this conversation with a younger friend of mine, (he’s 24, I’m 44), and I was asking him to name me one real action movie in recent times (that he would remember) where the hero did not use a gun to stop the bad guy(s) who had a gun(s). He couldn’t.

    We have been taught, since the Revolutionary War, that good guys with guns will always triumph over bad guys with guns. Simple. To be disgusted with this, or to revile this in the name of “sensitivity/political correctness” is asinine and juvenile. Just ask any gun-grabbing liberal/statist, “Well, if guns are soooo bad, then why do cops carry them?” Their blank stares alone is worth the question.

    • In the 1981 film “Ffolkes” the good guys used mostly spear guns, not firearms to take down the bad guys.
      In the much more recent film “The Rundown” the Rock uses fisticuffs, improvised weaponry and cattle, refusing to use any firearms until he’s badly pinned down.

  6. As someone who grew up watching The Rifleman and who still thoroughly enjoys the show today (on the Memorable Entertainment Network), I want to say Thank You for this piece. The Rifleman remains my favorite television program. That’s both a testament to just how good the old show was as well as how bad most television is today.

    But more than any other factor, watching these shows again now, 50 years after they were produced, it is crystal clear that everything the writer here describes is true. Young boys didn’t just watch a lot of gun play when they watched The Rifleman. We were being given life lessons with real value.

    Sadly, today, the opening credits of the show, in which Lucas McCain fires over ten rounds from his rifle while walking down the street, causes liberals heart pains and they have no interest in one of the best means of guiding young men into responsible adulthood, simply because their phobia over the gun will not allow them to see the bigger picture. It is sad that similar entertainment has no chance of being created today. Those of us who were children of the 50’s and 60’s didn’t know how lucky we were to have grown up when we did. Now we surely do.

  7. FYI – Rifleman is on the Free Hulu and as far as I can tell, all episodes are available.

    Along with Rifleman, I loved The Wild Wild West.

    yeah, I will take Emma Peel who was played by Diana Rigg over Uma Thurman’s character in the remake. Hilariously someone on Wikipedia had Occupation Unofficial undercover operative under Diana Rigg’s Bio for the longest time. Its since been updated and now under the character Bio only.

  8. “American children throughout the country honored the show by playing with the cap-gun flip-action replica version manufactured by the Hubley company back in 1958”.

    When I was a kid in the early 1960’s, I used this fine weapon to protect my family from the Polar Bears at the Detroit Zoo. After half a roll of caps, zoo personnel corrected my spirited obnoxiousness.

    Note that I was NOT arrested and charged with a felony, I was NOT suspended from school, and we were NOT ejected from the park, nor a party in a lawsuit. I learned my lesson easily, and adjusted my behavior accordingly.

    Back to the point, Lucas and Mark McCain (Connors and Crawford) are heroes in my book. I get 12 episodes per week on MeTV, over the air. Life is good.

  9. Best ever example of Hollywood hypocrisy: Richard Donner’s “Assasins.” Sly Stallone and Antonio Bandaras having a huge car chase/shoot out in downtown LA. Bullets spraying everywhere. They drive by a bus with a “ban the NRA” sign on it.

  10. As an OFWG I too was brought up on the western shows on TV. The entire FAMILY gathered around the TV to watch shows like Bonanza and Gunsmoke. There is something to be said for such communal gatherings. In fact the dense urban apartment building I lived in, pretty much ALL the families tuned in to these shows. You could go from one apartment to another and not miss a scene.

    I recall from some source that from the late 1940’s to mid 1960’s produced approx. 150 Westerns on TV. They ALL taught the good of the gun. Shows like Lawman, Tales of the Texas Rangers, its competitor Arizona Rangers, our northern neighbor Sgt. Preston of the Yukon all told the story of honest good decent police officers.

    I would be remiss to not mention the prototype for all them…Hopalong Cassidy. Later on Roy Rogers and Dale Evans took over as rock stars of gun toting good guys and gals. Unlike todays metrosexual almost male figures like the Bieber or thugs spouting foul mouthed lyrics, these fictional figures provided clear social guidelines and portrayed robust male and female role models for impressionable children. They had a zero tolerance policy. Evil gets defeated. Born out out of the World War and Korea, men defended family and freedom. Women were brave and strong nurturers.

    We can get back to these values. Unlike the President who denigrates the 1950’s and a couple of generations that have become lost in the world, I hope in fact we do make our way back there. It was a better time.

      • The POTUS will never embrace the values of the 50s since there was segregation then. Seems no “smart” people can separate American exceptionalism from segregation (and other social ills). YES WE CAN have one without the other.

  11. Even the earlier radio shows were the same. I remember listening to Gunsmoke and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon ( and his wonder dog King ). There were always guns, even on the radio that the good guys used to get the bad guys.

    And I really like Aaron’s t-shirt. Very cool.

    • Bruce… That’s funny. Angie Dickenson, the actress, at one time recently had an entire conversation with the boy regarding that T-shirt. She loved it and wanted to know where he got it 🙂 …. How funny is that. I should have gotten one for myself as well. Lol

  12. Yukon Men on Discovery is pretty good as far as reality shows are concerned (not too many fake crises or character drama), and even though it’s not exactly a gun show, guns are present just about everywhere. A few even carry AR’s for hunting & protection.

  13. If it wasn’t for liberals America would still be stuck in the 50’s. An awful time in this country where woman were forced to stay home to cook and clean. Racism was the norm and the majority of people had morals and believed in something bigger than themselves, like God. A time where it was frowned upon for a woman to give into her desires and self centeredness. When woman where punished for the actions by being forced to have children. Awful time, thankfully we have the democrats who showed us what progress is. Now no one has morals and you can indulge in any and everything without any worries of having to take responsibility for any of it. /Sarc

  14. Love how the shows kills the liberal pistol grip lie about shooting from the hip you can do the same with a Winchester 73.

  15. If it’s any consolation we have something of an over-saturation of gun love on the video game side of things, so it kinda evens out.

    On a side note I am not saying I’m against guns in video games (hell, I’m currently working on one that’s all about guns and self-sufficiency) just that guns are the rule rather than the exception in most franchises and titles nowadays.

    • What is the game you are working on about (and what is it called?)

      I am getting desperate looking for a videogame like DayZ or similar featuring self sufficency and open gameplay, and zombies wouldn’t hurt either.

      • Wait a few years and I’ll get back to you. If you want a good survival game check out Metro 2033 and it’s upcoming sequel Metro 2033: Last Light. Other choices include Don’t Starve, I Am Alive (though Ubisoft clearly has no idea how American gun policy works), Fallout New Vegas and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

        • Ahhh, Metro: 2033, good times~

          S.T.A.L.K.E.R, great also~

          And don’t get me started on Fallout, I’m working on a story of one of my characters.

  16. I love “The Rifleman” as much as anybody, so that part of the essay is great. But the premise that there aren’t any shows on TV that have guns in them is ridiculous. There are tons of shows with characters packing heat. I’ll bet you can’t cycle through the channels on any basic cable package in America at any time after 6 PM and not see a gun. Sure, there aren’t many shows that are about guns, but have there really ever been?

    • Stinkeye … Sorry you missed one of the points here…. Sure you can find guns on TV, but they are ONLY depicted as a killing device. Give me an example of a comedy today where the gun is depicted in a humorous manner or used as a symbolic tool to be respected. Remeber “The Odd Couple” – Murry the cop always lost or misplaced his gun and the audience laughed. TODAY, if that happened, the audience would be gasping and becasue their sense of humor would be tucked someplace up their butts. But, not to worry, television writers today would “never” write shtick like that cuz 99% of the writers are all liberal democrats :-/)

  17. Not to start something here but there is some good news. Reruns of The Rifleman are airing on AMC, I think they’re also doing Raw Hide; they do a Saturday marathon. Also, Discovery just started what appears to be another gunshop show to replace American Guns called Wild West Alaska. It was on my DVR just last week and came on right after Sons of Guns.

  18. Seems Hollywood has sorta embraced a revival of the Western in the last few years, although with different shades of modernism. I wonder if there will ever be another TV Western? Let’s hope it’s not some reality dude ranch junk.

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