Standing Up to Jesse James: Could It Happen Today?

This week the City of Northfield, Minn., is celebrating the “Defeat of Jesse James Days.” 

This annual event is five days of revelry culminating with what I believe is claimed to be second longest parade in Minnesota.  There are carnival rides, car shows, craft shows, food vendors, a rodeo, et cetera.  However, the undisputed focal point is the re-enacting of the most famous of failed bank robberies. 

Several times during the celebration they close off the main street while on lookers line the side walks.  A narrator tells the story as the James-Younger gang comes riding into town.  Jesse James, Cole Younger, and another gang member went into the bank while a few others were right outside, the remaining  stayed mounted and waited just up the street. 

The hero of the day was Joseph Lee Heywood, the bank employee who refused to open the vault.  They threatened to shoot him, but as he pointed out, that wouldn’t open the door.  While they were arguing the point, a casual passer-by noticed what was going down in the bank.  He went around the corner, into the hardware store and shouted the now famous phrase “Get your guns boys, they’re robbing the bank!” 

As the street got too quiet, the gang members outside realized that they had been spotted. By then the armed citizens had started taking up positions.  The lookouts called the guys out of the bank, but as a parting gesture Jesse James shot and killed Joseph Heywood.  The irony of the event was that the vault was unlocked, the door was just closed. 

As the James-Younger gang went to leave, the towns people opened up on them.  In the melee of gun fire the local citizens killed two and wounded two. To the best of my knowledge no one of the ad hoc vigilante were harmed at all. Furthermore, word of this resistance to thugs inspired another town to do the same thing shortly thereafter. 

What is most amazing is that this large city wide celebration takes place in one of the foremost bastions of liberalism in the world. But no one blinks an eye at it since it is the largest revenue boost the local businesses get all year. 

In Northfield you don’t have to wait until the day after Thanksgiving for your balance sheet to go into the black, it happens the second weekend in September.

The way I see it, this is another example of Capitalism triumphing over communism/socialism, yet again!      

But there is the other burning question here, what would happen today?  Sure the James-Younger Gang doesn’t exist anymore, but MS-13 sure does and they are far worse.  People will say that was 1876, now we have trained professionals who carry the guns to defend the general population. 

That is true, but they are often understaffed, underequipped, and have their hands tied by our insanely litigious society. Not to mention that the police primarily arrest a criminal after the crime is committed. The chances of the police happening to be there when the crime happens is very slim, there just are too few of them. 

Besides they are usually pretty obvious and the criminal won’t do something illegal in front of them. But an armed populace, that my friends is the answer.

I am afraid that if the James-Younger thugs rode into Northfield today, the call to “Get your guns boys, they’re robbing the bank!” would be answered with the sound of silence.