The Alamo is no place for a gun-totin’ demonstration

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The iconic image of the little mission in San Antonio where a band of brave Texans died fighting an overwhelming Mexican army 177 years ago has long been a symbol of liberty, independence and self-determination.

The Alamo, Texas’ No. 1 tourist attraction, on perhaps the state’s most hallowed ground, over the years has resisted being politicized, its custodians banning protests and demonstrations on the state-owned land. Such rallies usually were relegated to the nearby city-owned Alamo Plaza.

That will change Saturday when hundreds of rifle- and shotgun-toting gun enthusiasts converge on the grounds in a “Come and Take It San Antonio!” rally protesting the city’s ordinance that prohibits firearms at political rallies or in public parks. Some of the pro-gun organizers are also supporting three men recently arrested while carrying rifles outside a coffee emporium.

Permission for this rally, where Texans are being urged to show up with their long guns in clear view, was granted by the Texas General Land Office, which took control of the four-acre historical site in 2011. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a pro-gun advocate who as a legislator sponsored the state’s concealed handgun law, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

Patterson, a candidate for lieutenant governor, released a proposed opinion column for Saturday publication that said, “The main goal of today’s rally at the Alamo is simple: The peaceful exercise of a right we fear losing. It is legal, after all, to carry a long gun in Texas. Despite that fact, there are those who would claim otherwise under color of law. Today’s demonstration is expression of that right, plain and simple.”

He went on to say, “The fact that many Texans only feel comfortable with police carrying guns isn’t normal, historically speaking. Armed citizens shouldn’t be alarming in a free society.”

The fact is Texans do have a right to be alarmed over this planned demonstration and Patterson’s encouragement of people to come bearing arms at the Alamo for whatever purpose. It should not be “normal.”

This newspaper has praised the land commissioner in recent months for his stewardship of this sacred place, to which he has brought even more attention through unique exhibits and much more interaction with the public.

But this latest event smells of a cheap political stunt that is unworthy of Patterson, distasteful to many Texans and frankly disrespectful to the memory of those who died at the Alamo during the siege of 1836.

When Texans “remember the Alamo,” that memory should not include this undignified public insult.

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