SAN ANTONIO – Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a gun-toting Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is to headline a gun-rights rally Saturday on the state-owned Alamo grounds, where demonstrations historically have been banned — until Patterson’s office took over the shrine.
The rally, billed as “Come and Take It San Antonio!” will be held on the 4.2-acre Alamo complex, which has been under the custodianship of the Texas General Land Office since 2011.
Patterson, a gun-rights advocate who wrote the state’s concealed weapons law that took effect in 1996, is to be the keynote speaker.
An event flier circulated on the Internet accuses Police Chief William McManus and the Police Department of “harassing” gun owners after three men with guns at a local Starbucks were charged Aug. 24 with disorderly conduct.
McManus says his officers acted within the law when they cited the men at the coffee shop on Interstate 10 and De Zavala Road.
Texas law limits carrying of concealed handguns to licensed owners, but allows open carrying of rifles when not done in a threatening manner.
McManus said he plans to have a strong security presence at the rally, but doesn’t want emotions flaring.
“We’ll have plenty of police officers visible out there in hopes that will ease anyone that was fearful of people toting around weapons,” he said. “This isn’t an us-vs.-them.”
Those opposed to staging the event at the state-owned Alamo, held sacred by most Texans, call it a contrived protest.
In the past, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Alamo’s former custodians who now run the shrine’s daily operations under a state contract, have not allowed demonstrations on the grounds.
Protests and political rallies traditionally have been held in the city-owned Alamo Plaza.
Jim Suydam, news secretary with the Land Office, said the state agency approved the rally on the grounds at the request of gun-rights groups.
Suydam said the Alamo will provide extra rangers Saturday. The event will take place in front of the Alamo’s mission church, although the demonstrators will not be restricted in their movement.
“The individuals are responsible for their own actions. However, Commissioner Patterson has strongly supported the organizers’ safety measures, including the use of carry straps and chamber checks,” which prevent an accidental discharge, Suydam said in an email.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who recently was denied membership to the DRT, said she also opposes use of the Alamo grounds for the rally, possibly opening the door to future demonstrations there.
“It is a difficult precedent to set on the Alamo grounds. What groups will be given access in the future?” Van de Putte said. “Alamo Plaza is a more appropriate location, not inside the grounds.”
Don Pryor, a disabled Vietnam veteran and self-described supporter of the Second Amendment, said he had reservations about the rally and the groups seeking attention.
He grew up in San Antonio and, like many, said he cherishes the Alamo as hallowed ground.
“The Second Amendment is not about guns. It’s about the right to defend your family against a tyrannical government,” said Pryor. “It’s not about going to Starbucks to see what you can get away with.”
According to police reports, three men cited at the coffee emporium wore camouflage and had semi-automatic rifles. The manager and people leaving the store “expressed concern,” as the men had the rifles “on their laps and in hand.”
The rifles had rounds in the magazine, “and had open slides that just needed to be closed to make each weapon ready to fire,” the reports said.
The Texas Penal Code makes it illegal to display “a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.”
McManus has defended the officers who ticketed the men, whose visit to Starbucks was partly recorded in a video posted on YouTube. The chief didn’t rule out the possibility of arrests being made Saturday.
“For the SAPD, this isn’t about politics or about trying to stop people from exercising their constitutional rights,” McManus said. “It’s about making sure that the state laws and city ordinances are upheld.”
He added, “I don’t anticipate any trouble based on my conversations with Jerry Patterson.”
Murdoch Pizgatti, an organizer of the event, said he expects at least 1,000 people from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Read Full Story By Scott Huddleston: My San Antonio
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Phoenix is the Co-Founder of DontComply.com, ComeAndTakeItAmerica.com, and host of the Don't Comply Radio Show.
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