“We aren’t here to start a war today. We are here to show that an armed society is a polite society.”
So began a rally in San Antonio by gun rights activists who have become increasingly concerned about the attitude toward the Second Amendment by the San Antonio police and government.
From all reports, the gathering was very, very polite.
Indeed, police had no cause to interfere or obstruct the gathering due to some forward thinking by organizers. Guidelines on how to avoid confrontations with the cops were circulated:
1. Rally points: As many people as possible need to carpool to avoid single individuals moving towards the rally site (Alamo). . . (There is concern) that if the SAPD decides to arrest people they would do it while we don’t have the advantage of numbers. Furthermore, downtown SA can pose challenges for parking to begin with. There isn’t a parking lot in front of the site, but there are several parking garages within 5 blocks of The Alamo that can be used for parking, several of them are free.
2. Movement: We should avoid individual movement at all costs. Travel in groups to The Alamo. We don’t want to open ourselves to be picked off one or two at a time.
3. Warnings: (We) just learned that it is illegal to carry a lock blade knife in SA. This is amazing news . . . and can not stand, but that might be a fight for another day. For our purposes, almost every one attending has a Spyderco, Buck, Gerber, or whatever knife on them that the SAPD can use as a pretext to search us and arrest us. We need to emphasize that people leave the knives at home or in the car, that is unless we want to fight that front as well. . .
4. Contact with SAPD: Contact OF COURSE needs to be professional and polite. We are trying to educate them on who we are as well as ordinary Texans. If we are stopped by police officers, they are required by Texas law to positively identify themselves as police officers with their commission and certification documents that they are all required to carry with them. As was mentioned in previous emails, the city is self insured, and individual officers can be held accountable financially as well as the city.
The planning paid off as hundreds of liberty-loving Texans attended the rally without incident.
The rally was dubbed “Come and Take it San Antonio.” The iconic words “Come and take it” were uttered after the first real skirmish in the Texas War for Independence, where Texans dared the Mexican army to come and take a cannon they possessed. The words made it on to the first Texan flag:
This particular rally was to highlight grievances against the San Antonio police and government who activists say are interfering with their right to bear arms.
Open Carry Texas President C.J. Chivers told the crowd that he wanted to hold the event in San Antonio, because of a confrontation between police and gun rights advocates a couple months ago, according to the Associated Press.
“(The San Antonio Police Department) is no longer going to be messing with us,” Chivers said from a podium, with the Alamo’s famed Spanish mission behind him.
The day’s keynote speaker, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, is a Republican candidate for the lieutenant governor and an avid gun-rights advocate.
Patterson told NBC News that the rally was about the right of Texans to openly carry their pistols.
According to Texas law, gun owners cannot openly carry handguns, but there is no such law prohibiting the carrying of long guns. San Antonio police have recently made arrests of people carrying long guns, citing a more restrictive city ordinance banning weapons in public places.
“The premise is that someone who is openly carrying a handgun is not a criminal,” he said, adding that “criminals tend to be discrete” when carrying a hand gun.
Patterson said he supports a person openly carrying a hand gun in most environments, excluding a bar.
He said a bar is “one of the few prohibitive locations that might make some sense.”
Victoria Montgomery, public relations manager with Open Carry Texas, told NBC News that Saturday’s rally was about “people who want to be free” and about the right to openly carry arms of all sizes.
“People are starting to wake up – they have rights,” she said. “And they’re standing up to protect those rights.”
After the rally ended, a small group of armed citizens still in the plaza were ordered by police to disperse or be arrested. With some grumbling, the protestors complied thus avoiding any trouble that might have marred an otherwise perfect day.