Texas has an official style of boot (cowboy), breed of bird (Northern Mockingbird), cooking implement (the Dutch oven) and myriad other symbols, but now state lawmakers, convened for the 85th Biennial Texas Legislative Session, are aiming to make a few more things recognized Texas-specific symbols, including cannons, the 1847 Colt Walker revolver and the Bowie knife.
State Senator Don Huffines, a Dallas Republican, has filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 8 proposing to designate the cannon as said official state gun. The resolution includes a rather breathless account of the Battle of Gonzales, the first in the Texas Revolution, as Texans refused to surrender their cannon to Mexican soldiers and a fight broke out, as is noted in the resolution:
"The very first conflict of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales, was fought over a cannon; on Oct. 2, 1835, the 150 Texan rebels at Gonzales refused to surrender their bronze six-pounder to Mexican dragoons; they pointed instead to the cannon and declared, 'Come and take it!' During the ensuing battle, this memorable catchphrase and a painted image of the cannon itself were raised on a makeshift flag that was created by the women of Gonzales; the legendary flag has since become one of the iconic images of the Lone Star State."
Aside from the historic significance, the cannon also has the benefit of being both a gun and a very large gun, which fits right into the stereotype that everything is bigger in Texas.
“Obviously the cannon is the most significant symbol we have for the state of Texas, our sense of independence, our strength of being responsible as individuals and not reliant on the government,” Huffines told the Senate Administration Committee last Thursday.
Meanwhile, a resolution proposing to make the 1847 Colt Walker pistol the official handgun of Texas is cued up before the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee. Representative Mike Lang, a Republican from Granbury, penned the resolution, which argues that Texas needs to acknowledge this particular handgun as the chosen handgun of the Lone Star State because it is "historically crucial to the early survival of the great state of Texas."
The Colt Walker was created by Texas Ranger Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and Connecticut firearms inventor Samuel Colt because Walker wanted a gun that was very powerful at close range. The gun they created was regarded by many as the post powerful personal firearm in the world from the time it was made until the invention of the .357 Magnum in the 1930s. The gun had such a kick to it that Colt purportedly said only a Texan could shoot it, and it was so forceful it was as good as a regular rifle within 100 yards and better than a musket at 200 yards, according to Walker.
Lang states in the resolution that the Colt Walker revolver was an "essential tool in the defeat of the Mexican army during the Mexican-American War to reclaim Texas." He contends the gun should also be honored because it was the first American "six-shooter," also known as a gun that can hold six rounds. And furthermore, the gun is still "the most powerful black powder pistol in existence" and thus simply must be named the handgun of Texas.
Lang skips over why the gun was so important to Texas, probably because celebrating a gun powerful enough to take down a horse in a single shot that could fire off six shots in the time it took to load one gets dicey pretty quickly.
Walker had two of these revolvers on him at the Battle of Huamantla in 1847, but they didn't do him any good. He was killed during the battle by either a lance or a shot in the back.
Still, the move isn't as ridiculous as it seems. After all, about half of Texans own guns and if the resolution passes, Texas won't even be the first state to get an official handgun. That honor belongs to Utah, where a Browning 1911 pistol was selected as the state gun in 2011.
However, Texas lawmakers aren't just trying to make things official with guns this legislative session. There's also a resolution filed to make the Bowie knife the official knife of Texas. The resolution has already made it out of the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee
“Forever associated with Jim Bowie and the heroic Battle of the Alamo, the Bowie knife has long been a vivid and colorful symbol of the history and heritage of Texas,” the resolution, filed by Representative Drew Springer, a Republican from Muenster, states.
The knife didn't do its namesake much good when Bowie was actually in the Alamo, but it was handy, according to the resolution. Confederate soldiers became big fans of the weapon and it was a good backup to employ when the guns weren't working the way they were supposed to, which happened a lot.
“Since the days of the Alamo, the knife has served as an evocative reminder of Texas’ storied past, and it is forever linked with the fierce and independent spirit of the Lone Star State,” the bill concludes.
Now all three of these resolutions are moving through the Lege, but that's not a problem, Huffines told the Guardian. "There's room for all three, there really is," he said.
And if there's not, maybe Chuck Norris, of Walker, Texas Ranger fame, can do something about it. Last week the Lege made the Oklahoma-born Norris an honorary Texan, so he could have some pull.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.