Hoos'gow Day kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Friday, when a dozen "deputies" in black and white Western garb will roam downtown San Juan Capistrano in search of "city slickers."And for those that manage to comply with all this silliness, there's this:
Anyone caught not wearing Old West attire is subject to getting tossed in one of two roving "jails." You can earn your freedom by posting "bail" – that is, spending a few bucks on San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association merchandise.
Employees of Curtis Michaels Hair Salon in San Juan Capistrano plead for help from their co-workers after being put in a portable "jail" by a Hoos'gow Day crew in 2010. This year's round-up is Friday.
But there are a lot fewer jailers this year, as participation among Fiesta Association volunteers has declined sharply thanks to a new state law banning the open carry of handguns, said association President Steve Weekes.
"Normally we have about twice as many shooters," Weekes said.
California Penal Code section 26350 bans the open carry of functioning handguns and requires participants in events like Hoos'gow Day to use plugged-barrel replica guns. That means the antique pistols that many Fiesta Association members have used for years to fire blanks during Hoos'gow Day must stay at home.
The cheapest variety of replica pistols costs about $110, and Weekes said many of the perennial participants decided it wasn't worth it. The Fiesta Association, whose annual budget of about $145,000 is dominated by the Swallows Day Parade, couldn't afford to buy the guns either, Weekes said.
Orange County sheriff's deputies plan to do a gun check Friday to make sure the pistols comply with the law. Replica pistols will be clearly labeled as such, Meyer said.Deputies must think people are really dumb. Someone coming into town this weekend is more than likely there for the festivities, and the sight of someone walking around in Western gear with a gun on their hip is hardly going to cause hysteria. The only hysteria is coming from law enforcement and the legislators that passed this nonsense.
"We monitor the activities so there's no hysteria created by anybody new in town that may see these folks with guns," Meyer said.
Gun laws today are just silly. My father-in-law was a decorated WWII veteran who went on to become a high school history teacher. He was also an Old West buff, and every year his high school would have an Old West day. Roy would put on the full Western regalia, including chaps, spurs and TWO genuine western Colt revolvers. They were the real McCoy, fully capable of blasting little kids away if he so chose. They weren't loaded, but today carrying those guns onto a school campus would violate any number of State and Federal laws. Back then nobody gave it a thought.
How are we safer today? We're not. It just makes the weak-minded feel better about themselves.