Gun rights activists gathered yesterday at the Alamo to protest any and all laws that would prohibit them from openly carrying firearms. The "Come and Take It San Antonio!" rally broke a longstanding Texas tradition of not using the symbol of its independence as a political prop.
From 1905 until 2011, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas were the custodians of the Alamo; but in 2011, custodianship was transferred to the state's General Land office, the commissioner of which, Jerry Patterson, approved of yesterday's rally. Patterson is currently running for lieutenant governor.
"I respect the opinions of folks who say this is not the right place," Patterson told the thousand or so assembled. "But I submit to you there's one standard we should apply to gatherings here at this sacred cradle of Texas liberty and that is whether our activity and our purpose would be supported by those men who gave it all."
These sentiments were echoed by radio personality Alex Jones, who told the crowd that "I'm not different from my ancestors, and you're no different from your ancestors. My ancestors on both sides of my family started the Texas revolution, and I'm here to tell you that that revolution was a continuation of human beings fighting against bullies and tyrants in every civilization throughout history, and this is the struggle of the individual."
He went on to call Mexico "a countrywide Chicago," before suggesting that the Second Amendment also applies to citizens of Mexico. "There is a fight worldwide to take your guns. Dianne Feinstein, 'Handgun Control Incorporated,' the few dozen Democratic operatives they're going to have marching here in a little while, these so-called 'moms,' they are here to disarm you while Homeland Security buys tens of thousands of armored vehicles and millions of bullets."
"If the people who died here can see us, and I believe they can, I promise you they'd be proud of each and every one of you," he continued. "We're not going to lay down if you offensively attack us. If it's a war they want, it's a war they'll get."
Those attending the rally stuck red straws down the barrels of their weapons in order to prove that they weren't loaded. Texans are allowed to carry "long arms" in public so long as they don't do so in a "menacing" manner. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who attended the rally, made headlines in August when he had officers arrest a group of men for disorderly conduct in a Starbucks after a woman complained that she was "freaked out" by their openly carried guns. Those men, who posted the encounter on online, were honored at the rally.
Those who were merely there to see the Alamo, like members of the Australian Women's National Soccer team, didn't find the crowd "menacing," but did say that the sight of a thousand heavily-armed gun advocates is something that happens "only in America. It's surreal. You only see this in the movies."
Mark Roberts, of London, Ontario, concurred, saying "[w]e're not used to seeing guns carried openly in Canada, so that was almost like a culture shock." To which his wife responded, "I didn't like it at all because you don't know who you're dealing with. You don't know who these people are."
Although police didn't enforce a city ordinance banning weapons in city parks during the rally, afterwards they did warn protesters that they would be cited if they remained. "How do you even sleep at night?" one protester responder, while others yelled that the police were nothing more than "tyrants with badges."
A raffle -- in which an SKS rifle, a Mossberg 500 shotgun and AK-47 decorations were distributed -- accompanied the event.
Watch video of Alex Jones's speech below.