A pro-gun rally called “Come and Take It San Antonio” is being held at the site of the Battle of the Alamo in Texas on Saturday, after Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson, who also happens to be the protest’s keynote speaker, approved the staging.
Despite state open carry permits for long guns, San Antonio police recently arrested activists for open carrying firearms, citing a city ordinance against guns in public as well as a state penal code banning the display of a “deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.”
Organizers are calling on activists to bring rifles and shotguns to the state’s most popular tourist attraction, where in 1836, Colonel William Barret Travis and 200 members of the Texian Army held out despite being vastly outnumbered by Mexican forces.
"We're doing this to show that we're not going to back down," said Open Carry Texas spokeswoman Victoria Montgomery. "We are going to fight for our rights, and it's not OK for police to just say whatever they want and make up the rules as they go along."
This breaks a century-long tradition against public demonstrations at the historic site, which is considered a sacred site by preservationists.
“We certainly consider the Alamo our family cemetery,” Lee Spencer White, president of the Alamo Defenders’ Descendants Association, told Fox News. “Our guys died there and we take it very seriously.”
White, a descendant of George C. Jennings, who manned a cannon in the siege against Mexican General Santa Anna’s army, is against the demonstration.
“You instantly become reverent,” she added. “You feel the sacrifice and the emotions of those who died there. You can’t help but leave feeling moved and changed forever.”
The four-acre site includes a mission church, the foundation of which was laid by the Spanish in 1744. About 2.5 million people visit the site each year, Fox News reported.
When the church was run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas from 1905 to 2011, it was kept sacrosanct from inappropriate events. The state took control away from the DRT after allegations of mismanagement.
“You’re setting a precedent here,” White said. “Today it’s a gun rally. What is it going to be next month, next year?”
“Citizens who want to gather and exercise their First Amendment rights, who behave in a lawful manner, I’m not sure we have the lawful authority to say no, even if we wanted to,” said pro-gun Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on Wednesday.
Known for carrying a pistol in his boot, Patterson is running for lieutenant governor.