Tom, I didn't overlook Wyatt or Virgil's testimony. My purpose was to question the commonly held position by many on this board that the Earps were OPENLY carrying thier revolvers in hand before and after encountering Behan. That may not have been completely clear in my opening post, but in the one that quote all the testimony, I believe I used the word “openly” four times. I assume Wyatt kept his hand on his pistol when he put it in his pocket.
I would have no problem with all the posse walking down Fremont with weapons in hand and pointed forward. One cowboy had told Virg earlier that his intention was to provide a coroner’s jury and would have if Virg had been a few seconds slower in striking him. After that, Wyatt saw the same offender in the gun shop trying to buy a new weapon while his newly arrived confederates loaded ammo in their gun belts. They very possibly, with good reason, could have assumed that Ike had re-armed and even if somehow they found out that he had not, how does the fact that he tried to buy one and, according to his own testimony, was not dissuaded by Billy or Frank, but blocked by the store clerk from doing so. What does this say about the mind set of the cowboys at this point?
Additionally, several residents urged Virg to attempt to disarm them because, in their estimation “they meant trouble”, while at least two, Fonck and Sills (I know, I know) told they were repeating Ike’s threats? Both Fronck and Murray thought that the cowboys posed such a threat that they offered to recruit men to help arrest and disarm them. Even Behan urged Virg to disarm and ARREST them while they still had their hoses with them. It sounds like the cowboys peaceable amble around town while “not being aggressive” wasn’t impressing to many folks of their pacifistic intentions. So, of course, when the Earps found out that Ike and company had left the O.K. Corral still armed and were gathered on Fremont, they had to assume that it was more than likely that the cowboys would resist arrest. So I am pretty certain that their mindset was that they were probably going to have to “make a fight”, even if Virgil intended to attempt to disarm them first.