Stop Packing and Leave Town

Alaskans have always been fierce protectors of their right to carry firearms. However for most of that history, it was illegal to carry a concealed firearm, especially within the city limits. Today’s history nugget gives an idea of how “gun-packing” was viewed by the municipal court here in Fairbanks 107 years ago:

Fairbanks Daily Times September 20, 1911


Municipal Magistrate Whitney W. Clarke Intends to Put a Stop to the Prevailing Practice of Carry Concealed Weapons- George Lafever Gets Heavy Sentence, Which Is Suspended Provided He Leaves Town.

“There must be a stop to the practice of carrying concealed weapons in Fairbanks,” said Municipal Magistrate Whitney W. Clarke in police court yesterday, upon the occasion of fining a gun-packer. “All men who make pretensions at being gun-fighters will receive the maximum penalty from me hereafter. The practice is the most dishonorable one in the petty crime calendar and every measure in my power will be used to put a stop to it.”

For some-time past, Magistrate Clarke has been raising the fines with astonishing regularity, and then in most cases suspending the fines if the miscreant vanishes from this, the “Golden Heart of the North.”

The last one brought to the bar of justice, was one George Lafever, who was taken into custody yesterday while in the act of flashing an ugly looking, antiquated firearm. Nevertheless, it looked capable of committing bodily injury if too much pressure was given at a particular spot on the mechanism.

As an excuse, the man declared that he had taken the weapon with him from the creeks merely for the purpose of killing an occasional grouse encountered on the way. He stated that his heart was as devoid of malice as that of a newborn babe, it didn’t go with the judge, however.

With the provision that he makes himself mighty scarce in the very near future, Magistrate Clarke imposed the extreme penalty, a $100 fine, and 50 days in jail. The man took the suspended sentence.

Note: Municipal Magistrate Whitney Clarke was an active member of the Men’s Igloo here in Fairbanks. As you can see, he took his job seriously and did what he could to make Fairbanks a safe place to live for all its colorful residents but the creeks were on their own. George Lafever was not a member of the Pioneers. Apparently, we drew the line at gun slingers! This “disarming” History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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