Push back is growing to a planned 'open carry' gun rights rally which is set for Saturday on Alamo Plaza, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Several groups and prominent individuals, including State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who wrote the state's concealed handgun law while he was a member of the Texas Senate, plan to gather at the Alamo carrying loaded rifles, including some weapons which are categorized as 'assault rifles.'
"We cannot stand by any longer in silence," says a statement by a group called 'Don'tComply.com,' which is one of the organizers. "They (police agencies) have been left unchecked too long. October 19th we will stand under weight or arms and declare 'THIS IS OUR LINE IN THE SAND!" We will stand as free men and women!"
Even though a concealed handgun license, which required a training course and a background check, are required to carry a handgun in a concealed holster, Texas law allows rifles and other long guns to be carried openly, without any training or permitting required.
Michelle Green, who heads the Texas chapter of a group called 'Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America' says that law, which dates to the 19th Century, was passed to make sure people could hunt game in rural areas unmolested, and it was never intended to allow people to carry AR-15s in the downtown areas of big cities.
"The thought of walking around a Wal-Mart or a Starbucks with a loaded long rifle is alarming, and it is completely disproportional to what anybody needs," Green said.
Gun rights advocates say it is not up to the government to decide what level of weapon they 'need,' and say the Second Amendment is clear that no laws can infringe on the right to bear arms.
Several people organizing the rally say they are concerned that police departments around the state are targeting law abiding gun owners. A man is on trial in Belton after he was arrested while carrying a long rifle down a country road while hiking with his son. DontComply.com says San Antonio Police Chief William McManus has authorized 'a policy of harassing law abiding citizens and gun owners.'
Green says most members of her group own guns and all support the Second Amendment. But they say carrying a loaded rifle to a downtown rally goes over the line for them.
"I think most of us understand the need for hunters to be able to carry their guns when they are hunting out the country," she said. But she called the Saturday rally 'alarming and sickening' and said the 'Come and Take it, Line in the Sand' organizers are a 'fringe group.'
Adding to the controversy is the fact that the Alamo is generally off limits to political rallies, and permission for dozens of political rallies were rejected by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas when they operated the Alamo. But the Alamo is now under the control of Patterson's General Land Office.
Patterson, by the way, is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.