Bob, I think I covered my thoughts on this down the line when we were discussing Frank's conduct, but will try to give you my evaluation of Behan's position under the same circumstance.
Seeing as you asked; I like to visualize what I read and reason on it as I go along. My thinking on the matter, relying on the testimonies, is like this: When Behan said he was going down to arrest the ranchers, remember that he is on Fourth and Allen corner talking with an over-excited Virgil. Behan hasn't even seen one of the ranchers yet and is going on ONLY what Virgil and the excited gossipers in the barber shop are telling him.
He demonstrates by the way he tries to reason with Virgil, that his concern is getting control of what appears to be an explosive situation building. Virgil might have realized he is too volatile in Behan's eyes and so he tones it down a little after Behan says he will go down and disarm the ranchers.
Clearly, when Behan found Frank talking with a friend on Fremont street and demands Frank's gun, Frank apparently relates what he understands is happening and that he intends no trouble. He is understandably pee'd off because he has heard about his brother's attack by Wyatt when there did not seem to be justification for it. As a result, he is seeing the situation as personal animosity and is reluctant to give up his gun. None of the ranchers have had words or contact with Virgil so are not aware of a law violation at this point.
(Ike's incident with Virgil, Morgan, and the courtroom drama was more or less settled, though Ike still seemed to think he was under threat and attempted to get a gun at the gun shop. It appears Frank and Billy probably calmed him down.)
Getting back to Behan and Frank, it is apparent that Behan realizes that on the ranchers' side there is no real threat of trouble but because Virgil is wild as a Hare, he proceeds to pursue the matter of removing the weapons on the ranchers' side so that nothing will develop. He is calm and reasonable. He understands from talking with Frank as they approach the others at the lot that Frank is reluctant to give up the gun unless the PARTY (singular) who beat his brother is disarmed. Frank has banking business to finish in town. Behan persists and Frank AGREES to go to the sheriff's office and leave the gun there. (This is a favourite leave-out with most readers)
Behan then talks with the others, understands they are leaving town and as Ike is not armed Behan gives Billy permission to keep his gun as he plans on leaving. Behan and Frank were just going across the street to the sheriff's office when they saw the Earp crowd heading toward them. Behan is alarmed but tells the ranchers to stay put where they are and he will stop the Earps and get the whole thing under control.
I don't know if Behan realized at that point that the fat was in the fire, but he must have recognized their attitude pretty quick. he attempted to dissuade them but they totally ignored him and nearly ran him down. At that point it was obvious that reasoning was out of the question and short of a football tackle, there was nothing Behan could do other than offer himself as a sacrifice...but few would do that; not even the Earps, as brave as they were!
Behan testified that he told Virgil he was going to disarm and arrest the cowboys, yet he never mentioned the word arrest once he found them. Why did he feel they neded to be arrested in the fist place,... more
Behan's decision... — Joyce A. Aros,Tue May 16 10:11
Joyce, these are exceptionally good responses (as is your post in the thread immediately below this one) that verify Bruce Olds' take on your writing ability. I don't have time right now, because of my... more