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At the Alamo, Protesters Get Up in Arms

Hundreds of gun-rights advocates, some carrying loaded assault weapons, rally in San Antonio.
by Published on
Gun-rights advocates rally at the Alamo.
Jen Reel
Armed gun-rights advocates gather at the Alamo.

You can only imagine what unwitting tourists visiting the Alamo on Saturday must have thought.

There were hundreds of Second Amendment enthusiasts gathered at San Antonio’s Alamo Plaza, many carrying loaded rifles and assault weapons to the public square. They stood before one of the most revered sites in Texas to protest what they see as unconstitutional curbs on displaying weapons in public.

The highest-profile speakers at the event were current land commissioner and lieutenant governor candidate Jerry Patterson, who carries a handgun in his boot, and conspiracy purveyor Alex Jones, an assault rifle on his back. Patterson and Jones reflected the inherent tension between the two camps at the rally: gun-owners who struck a more conciliatory tone and emphasized personal responsibility mingled with fringe elements who expressed a more profound anger at the government, and hinted at a dark future.

Patterson has waged his campaign primarily on the strength of his gun-rights credentials — he authored the state’s concealed carry law in 1995. But the surreal nature of Saturday’s event allowed Patterson to play something of a moderate. He asked the protestors not to carry their guns inside the Alamo’s walls, and he urged the crowd to respect the San Antonio police officers.

“You have to recognize that those cops on the street are not here to adjudicate the constitutionality of these laws,” Patterson said. “They’re here to enforce the laws, no matter how bad they might be. Any anger you have, focus it on the lawmakers.”

Distancing himself from the more conspiratorial attendees, he said: “I’m not one of these people that thinks someone’s gonna come knocking on my door and take my guns.”

Jones, on the other hand, is one of those people. In a tirade of a speech, the radio talk show host laid out the issue in the starkest possible terms. Gun owners, he said, “are the persecuted group, because the globalists know that we are the seed of political understanding. They want to make us slaves. The globalists know we’re waking to them.” Gun rights should be expanded internationally, he said—especially in Mexico, because violence had turned that nation into a “country-wide Chicago.”

Afterward, I asked Patterson if it bothered him to share a stage with a man who argues that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by President George W. Bush.

“Yeah, it does. But you know, it’s really hard to push somebody off the stage. And, you know: they might have a problem sharing a stage with me.” He added, in response to Jones’ 9/11 charge: “I was a big fan of George W. Bush. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known.”

Patterson couldn’t push Alex Jones off the stage — and I wouldn’t want to be the one to try, either — but he still chose to get up on that stage in the first place. When I asked Jones about Patterson, there seemed to be less distance between the two.

“I like Jerry Patterson. I’ve known him for about 18 years. Since back when he was in the Legislature,” Jones said. “I’ve known him forever. He’s a really great guy. And he gave a really great, measured speech.” Later, he added: “A disarmed people are slaves.”

Count among the slaves Peter and Mabel, a genial Canadian couple from outside Vancouver. The retirees, who declined to give their last name, had been traveling around the United States in their RV for several months when, on a jaunt across Texas, they decided to tour the Alamo. The day’s spectacle had them bemused and a little concerned.

“There’s nothing like this in the Western world,” Peter said. “Here you have people that are like-minded and just feeding on each other’s propaganda, it seems to me.” Added Mabel, “This is totally beyond our comprehension.”

A half-mile down the road from the Alamo, members of a gun-control advocacy group Moms Demand Action gathered at a restaurant to talk about the threat of gun violence. Stephanie Burlingame and Hilary Rand, both mothers of two, sat in the restaurant’s backyard while children played around them. Both got involved in gun control advocacy after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 children and six staff dead. “It’s too easy to imagine you’re the mom outside that firehouse [in Newtown,] waiting to find out if your child was killed,” Rand said.

Burlingame, who walked through the crowd at the Alamo earlier in the morning, said the anonymity of the gun-toting protesters was what scared her most. “I know enough about the laws now to know that we don’t know who these people are. None of us do. Anybody can get their hands on these weapons,” she said. “No background check, no training, nothing. My dad is a career Army officer. He would tell you today, weapons like these belong in the hands of soldiers. Period, end of story.”

That leads us to rally attendee Captain Mac, who identified himself as the founder of the Tea Party Militia and a member of the Austin Rifles of the Texas Brigade. “For this, the FBI has had me under surveillance,” he said jovially.

“They noticed I was buying a lot of legally imported Russian weapons.” He pointed to the box his gun, a Ukrainian assault rifle with a rough-looking birchwood stock, arrived in. “That’s Cyrillic — ‘Wild Boar,’ it means in English. The ammo comes via UPS straight to your door.”

I had wanted to talk to Captain Mac because of his large Ted Cruz sign, visible from throughout the rally. But Cruz isn’t Captain Mac’s only cause. He pointed out an addendum to the sign, with symbols for major fascist and white supremacist organizations.

“I’m also recruiting for these organizations,” he said. “There’s the National Socialist Movement — their slogan is, ‘deport them all, let God sort them out.’” He points to the number 88, indicating the 8th letter of the alphabet (that would be the letter ‘h’ or ‘HH’). “Heil Hitler. We’re anti-fascist, of course. But he was doing pretty good until he started taking everyone’s guns and attacking his neighbors. Imagine if none of that had happened.”

At this point, a fresh-faced young volunteer, noticing Captain Mac’s Ted Cruz sign, ambled over with a ballot petition. “You look like you would support Attorney General Greg Abbott in his race for governor,” the volunteer said.

“Absolutely,” said Captain Mac, taking pen in hand as he returned to his pitch. “We’re not fascist. We’re about Deutschland for Deutschlanders, and America for Americans.” The petition wrangler flashed a nervous look at my recorder, before correcting Captain Mac’s residency information and walking away.

Mac ran down the rest of the list, which includes the now-outlawed Greek fascist party Golden Dawn and a true fan’s appreciation for the “Butcher of Bosnia,’” Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžić. Then he ambled back into the crowd to show admirers his rifle.

That called to mind the words of Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. “There’s this perception out there that guns are bad,” he had said. “Well, guns are bad in the hands of bad people.”

Christopher Hooks joined the Observer in 2014. Previously, he was a freelance journalist in Austin, where he grew up. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, Slate, and Texas Monthly, among others. He graduated from The New School in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in history.

  • IslandTyger

    “Heil Hitler. We’re anti-fascist, of course. But he was doing pretty good until he started taking everyone’s guns and attacking his neighbors. Imagine if none of that had happened.”

    Yeah, I’d be ashes in a crematorium.

    • Valerie Finnigan

      And I’d be starving in a pit if he had his way. Guys like him just give me more reasons to be grateful for my Second Amendment rights, but not in any way they’d like. I’m all about protecting people from him and his ilk.

      BTW, if he wants America for Americans, he should be glad to hop on the first time machine back to 1930′s Bavaria.

      • Moocherin_and_Looterin

        I guess he never got the word about the German-American Bund disbanding…

  • https://www.facebook.com/DakinAssociates Shaun Dakin

    OMG.

  • kfreed

    Thanks, Tea Party. I’m collecting these articles. Best advertisement for gun control ever.

    Sane people are NOT down with this craziness.

    • Dave Kalin

      That guy wasn’t associated with the Tea Party except in your frazzled mind. I’m not a member of the Tea Party but because I disgreed with you, I’m sure you’ll brand me.

      • channelclemente

        IMO, it’s not so much the signs and symbols. You’re right, nutjobs wanting a little spotlight show up at many public rallys. What get’s me and makes the TeaParty into batshitcrazy goofballs is how often the yield the microphone to the nutjobs. That they do control.

        • Valerie Finnigan

          Not as often as the media hands mics to the nutjobs. Note that that neo-Nazi was not a speaker at that event.

          • channelclemente

            …invited speaker…

          • NoelTheOne

            No, but Alex Jones was, and that man is a nutty as they come.

          • Valerie Finnigan

            Hate to break it to you, but there are people a lot worse than Alex Jones. Mr. Neo-Nazi Scumbag himself, for example. Alex Jones is something worse than a nut, and I really dislike the guy, but I do not believe he means any harm- quite unlike the Neo-Nazi scumbag.

          • NoelTheOne

            Oh, I believe there are crazier people out there, but that not really saying much. As for not meaning any harm, have you ever actually _been_ to Infowars? His whole schtick is promoting conspiracy theories. If you’ll notice, I was responding to your comment that the media hands mics to the nutjobs more often than the Tea Party does. And I question that statement, especially when this post was explicitly about a rally that handed the microphone to Alex Jones to spout off more about his conspiracy theories. Given that that is pretty much all Alex Jones does, one might assume that the organizers knew what they were getting when they handed a microphone to him.

          • Valerie Finnigan

            Yes, I have been to Infowars. That’s how I was able to formulate an educated dislike of Alex Jones. But just because someone’s a conspiracy nut doesn’t mean he has any ill intent.

            And yes, the media loves to hand mics over to nutcases and idiots simply because they believe that television audiences are more willing to watch crazies than intelligent people with well-thought-out opinions.

      • Moocherin_and_Looterin

        “That leads us to rally attendee Captain Mac, who identified himself as the founder of the Tea Party Militia and a member of the Austin Rifles of the Texas Brigade. “For this, the FBI has had me under surveillance,” he said jovially.”

        • Valerie Finnigan

          The problem with the Tea Party is that anyone can claim to be part of it.

          • Moocherin_and_Looterin

            They’re so inclusive. Some hate the Jews, some hate smart people, some hate hyphenated-Americans, some hate Democrats, but hey, they can still agree on the basics!

  • Max Kohnke

    It is almost impossible to hold an open rally and not get extremists. I support the second amendment but when Nazis or KKK show up it puts a pretty big dent in your support gathering goals (regardless if they are plants by the opposition). The idea behind a rally is to get support and these rubes do not help that cause. While I am on that point let me add that, southern as I am, I know waving a rebel flag is going to hurt you on the public opinion front just like waving a Nazi symbol will and you can bet they are the ones the cameras will be pointed at. I am forced to wonder if that is really what these goobers want, attention.

    • pocoTOTO

      The fact that some extremist might show up at a rally misses the point. The question one should ask is whether or not an extremist like this is welcomed by the rest of the rally attendees. He clearly was. Sorry, but the paranoid, racist, xenophobic rubes are a large constituency at gun rallies. Enough with the head scratching. It’s why I have no respect for the folks who fetishize an extreme version of only one amendment over all others.

      • Valerie Finnigan

        What do you expect the rest of rally attendees to do? Lock the nutjobs up in their rooms? For the most part, if the rally is peaceful, no laws are broken, everyone cleans up after themselves, and the rally remains on message, they’ve done a pretty good job- quite unlike leftist extremists in OWS.

        • pocoTOTO

          Ask them to leave.
          Engage them and tell them their message is not welcome.
          Station someone next to them with a sign that says, “We are not with stupid.”
          DON’T run up to them to excitedly get them to sign your petition.
          Really, free speech cuts both ways. You have every right to express yourself when the Neo-Nazis show up.
          And, you might want to get the brain bleach for this, but here goes anyways: the OWS folks, most of whom were lobbying for something like a return to Nixonian levels of taxation, universal healthcare, and/or some sort of meaningful punishment for crimes committed by those in the financial and banking industries were not extremists for doing so. In comparing them to Neo-nazis, you demonstrate a profound ignorance of history.
          There is a difference between having a fine-grained discussion about how to pay for the government we have and having a discussion about how we might cleanse our country of non-whites. The two are not equivalent.
          OWS was also a far larger movement with far more issues on its plate. The Alamo gun fetishists don’t really have much to say. There is really no duller message out there than the sort of paranoid temper tantrum they are throwing. Yeah, I get it, you can shoot people when the modern world becomes too much of a burden. It’s like we are all perpetually 8-years-old. Congrats. Given the narrowness of this message, it should be far easier for you to keep out the Hitler supporters, unless, that is, you desperately need them to beef up your numbers.
          I’ll leave off now, because I suspect I am doing nothing more than throwing pearls to swine here.

          • Valerie Finnigan

            You are not getting my point. People wiping their butts on cop cars, obstructing traffic, assaulting police officers, looting, committing vandalism, robbery, and yes, even rape at their “protests” are not having a “fine-grained discussion about how to pay for the government,” especially when their shenanigans hurt middle class taxpayers the most.

            I’d be most happy to point out to Mr. Neo-Nazi that his message is not mine. But as long as the First Amendment applies to him as much as to you and me, and as long as he’s doing nothing causing any actual damages, there isn’t anything else you or I could do. Are you in favor of censorship?

    • donaldball

      It’s not about what the extremist fools do; it’s about how the crowd responds to the extremist fools.

  • Thomas Lee

    Alex is a WACKO

    • Valerie Finnigan

      Alex Jones indeed is a whacko, but even a broken clock is right once or twice a day.

      • Cuppa

        He’s batting below a broken clock.

  • pchild57

    Peaceful intimidation and threats of war … responsible gun owners spewing their hate and disinformation again. Looks like a photo of Somalia vs San Antonio.

  • channelclemente

    So what the story on the GOP Judge in San Antonio jumping ship to the Democratic Party.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/politics/article/Court-at-law-judge-switches-to-Democratic-Party-4913137.php

  • miamiboxing

    What delusional world are these freaks living in? Comparing 2013 United States to 1939 Germany? No one is going to take your guns, you ignorant morons! We DO however need to pass common sense gun laws which prevent criminals and mentally insane people (all whom are already not legally allowed to purchase guns), from walking into your local (San Antonio), gun show and buying whatever they damn well please without a simple background check. Anyone believing assault rifles are covered by the 2nd amendment should get their head examined. 1. They had muskets back in 1791 when the bill of rights was ratified and could obviously not foresee the future. 2. Many of the signers of the Constitution were SLAVE OWNERS! If you think that they cared about your “right” to own/carry/shoot an AR 15 with a 30 round magazine in 2013, think again! They denied the most basic rights to blacks across the nation. Do you REALLY think they would want blacks owing/carrying/shooting an AR 15 with a 30 round magazine??? The “second amendment” means for EVERYONE, right? But if they did not intend blacks to have guns, why should any of these fools think they are more entitled???

    • bimbo

      the thugs, black or white have guns with or without laws

    • Valerie Finnigan

      If you thimnk the 2nd Amendment does not apply to modern day firearms, by that logic, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to computers, smart phones, and the internet. Yet it’s evident that you didn’t write this post with a quill and ink.

    • http://dcmoosings.blogspot.com LouC

      Also ahistorical. Hitler didn’t take guns away from Germans. Only “undesirables” like Jews. And I have a feeling the TPers would be down with taking away guns from, for instance, gays, Mexican Americans, blacks, liberals, etc., etc.

  • Erik

    This is completely unnecessary. No one is going to take away your guns, you lunatics. You don’t need to shove your right to carry a gun down our throats (to use one of your side’s favorite phrases) to prove it.

    • bimbo

      now you know how most people feel when homosexuality advocacy is forced on them. ironic

      • Ben Toros

        Homosexual terrorist murder plots in the past few years? 0. Rightwing ones? Dozens. 7/08 J Adkisson walks into Unitarian church and kills/wounds 6 saying “liberals are destroying America”. 10/08 2 Neo-nazis arrested in plot to kill blacks. 12/08 2 “Patriot movement” radicals kill 2 cops in Oregon. 12/08 White supremacist J Cummings is killed by his wife before he can build a radioactive ‘dirty’ bomb which he had the materials for. 4/09 Glenn Beck fan R Poplawski kills 3 cops because ‘Obama is coming to take my guns’. etc…

      • Cuppa

        That’s like comparing apples to hand grenades.

  • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com wetcasements

    You Republicans know we lost at The Alamo, right?

    • bimbo

      lost the battle, but won the war. hmm, foreshadowing in today’s events

      • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com wetcasements

        So you’re at war with America? Why don’t you just leave?

      • Cuppa

        Please secede.

  • bimbo

    no matter how ominous this writer tried to make the event appear, these people aren’t the bad guys. gotta luv texas!

    • Cuppa

      How about crazy?

  • kiptw

    “National Socialist Movement”? Doesn’t he know that makes him a liberal in the eyes of anyone who learns history from Jonah Goldberg?

  • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

    I am sorry. I was not aware that the 2nd amendment was given by GOD to protect guns. Especially since there WEREN’T any in the Israel Jesus was born in. If I am visiting a shrine to people who supposedly fought for TX liberty – to me, it is a hallowed, sacred place. I would feel very uncomfortable with large groups of men & I assume women too – armed with assault rifles strung on their backs. I would begin to wonder WHY they felt the need to carry these things in public & out in the open. WHY? To prove what? No one is coming for your guns. “Guns are bad in the hands of bad people”? You have NO idea how a good person can become a bad person so easily…These guys worship brutality, war & possibly hate,,,I am sure that they are really nice people – but certain mindsets should never own guns & one who worships fascists & the “Butcher of Bosnia”? Well, to me that is just scary. WE ARE THE ONLY CIVILIZED COUNTRY THAT WORSHIPS GUNS & FEELS THE NEED TO CARRY OURS ON THE STREETS.

    • GR Arnold

      I think you’re most likely uncomfortable with just about anything that you cant wrap your simple head around.

  • Moors Rule

    See if they would use those guns on child molesters, try to end the real problems America faces, our kids, instead they just blame blacks for all the things they chose to, but blacks didn’t start gangs, blacks didn’t start crime against our fellow Americans, blacks didn’t say whites are not human, it was these kind of hate filled men that started all the bad in America, with the ways they believed, if you want to be a nazi get out of America, or your gonna die on my homeland. I’m a True American, the Great Gandson of the slave and the slave master

  • Moors Rule

    nazi punks should follow their leader and pop a pill shoot themselves and they lady, and be burned, and if hitler did make it out, then the nazi scum can’t trust him, because he would have abandond all his followers and made them fight to the death and then just ditched them, either way he’s was a meth monster like most still are today, I’m going to make a shirt with a imprint of the side profile of bitchlers face with a gun at his head the shirt reads follow your leader.

  • Russell Smith

    Wonder how long the yellow journalist had to look to find a Nazi.

  • Andrew

    I like how Jones actually mentioned Goldman Sachs as one of the evil “globalists” taking over the world in the same breath as singling out “anti-free market” forces attempting to tyrannize the US. Does that mean Goldman is anti-free market? And of course most of these mouth-breathers lionize Rafael Cruz, Jr., who was/is heavily supported by Goldman Sachs.

  • Andrew

    Later, he (Jones) added: “A disarmed people are slaves.”

    Isn’t it funny how the rest of the world doesn’t think they’re “slaves” for not granting gun licenses like they were bingo cards?