Packing Heat

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wants to "normalize the sight of an armed citizen."

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Current Texas Land Commissioner and Lt. Governor hopeful Jerry Patterson has been a staunch supporter of conservative causes. He recently told reporters he thought liberal states like New York and California should be kicked out of the Union. He is also a proud concealed-gun carrier, allegedly packing heat wherever he goes.

I get it. Come and take my rifle. VERY clever.
I get it. Come and take my rifle. VERY clever.

Last Saturday, he was scheduled to make an appearance at a pro-gun rally outside the Alamo in San Antonio. At issue is the right not just to carry a weapon, but to do so openly. Texas allows registered citizens to carry concealed weapons, but Patterson and other advocates say they should be able to carry weapons in plain sight, including "long guns" (i.e., rifles).

The rally is in San Antonio because three open-carry advocates were recently cited for carrying rifles outside a Starbucks in the city (this, in and of itself, is its own punch line). The rally promises as many as 1,000 rifle-wielding Texans outside the Alamo in the center of San Antonio's downtown and tourist district. Technically, it will be breaking a city ordinance, but the police chief has agreed to suspend the law for that day.

Patterson's office forwarded what appear to be his remarks for the rally to the media and, agree or not with the argument over open-carry laws, the missive is as surreal as it is, at certain moments, hilarious. Here's my personal breakdown:

The last time hundreds of Texans showed up at the Alamo with rifles, they were hailed as heroes in their stand against a tyrannical government.

Texas — and Texans — have changed a lot since then. But the fundamental, Constitutional right to keep and bear arms has not.

Well, yeah, but that didn't exactly end well, now did it? And saying, "Texas has changed a lot" since 1836 is a bit like saying, "This whole Internet thing seems to be pretty popular, doesn't it?"

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.

This is a clever if bizarre argument that often comes from groups like this one — they exist on both the left and the right, mind you. It goes something like, "There is this law that is basically going unchallenged, but we are convinced it might be at some point in the future, so we are going to protest the future, potential change before it happens."

Have there been gun restrictions? Of course. But the NRA and others have sought to convince anyone who will listen that these restrictions are simply a path for the government to show up at your door and take all your guns before throwing you in a work camp and forcing you into Ayn Rand's vision of the dystopian future.

It's a purposeful overreach designed to scare the crap out of people so badly, they will do anything to protect a right that isn't really being threatened, so much so in fact that their advocacy ends up being not just for keeping said right, but for expanding it so much that it is barely relevant — like openly carrying hunting rifles in public because millions of people are clearly dying to take their 20 gauges to the park.

It should be noted, San Antonio's city council has declared they will not enforce the city's unconstitutional ordinance prohibiting any person other than police or security officers from ­carrying a firearm within the city limits at a ­public event. They know they would lose any ­challenge to an arrest made under such city ordinance in a court of law. So in that respect, today's Second Amendment exercise has already been successful.

But a more subtle goal of today's gathering is one largely been lost in the media hype surrounding it, and that is the effect such a rally might have to help normalize the sight of an armed citizen.

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.

No, of course not. I mean, the first thing I think when I see some guys with guns walking into a convenience store is, "Now, there go a couple of fine American patriots." And it's not like we're talking about single-shot muskets here. The "long guns" they want to be openly carried include AK-47s and other assault weaponry. It seems reasonable that people say, "I don't know, grabbing a morning cup of coffee at Starbucks, I might be a tad alarmed by the presence of dudes carrying AKs."

And I'm sure the next argument is, "But, Jeff, if you too were allowed to carry an AK, then you could take on would-be convenience store thugs in a hail of gunfire and be touted as an American hero." Sure, that or I could shoot myself in the leg trying to dislodge my gun from the back seat and bleed out in the parking lot. But maybe that's just me.

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