Guns Across America: Texas Officials Lead Gun Rights Protest at the State Capitol

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A girl holds a pro-gun sign at the Guns Across America rally in Austin.
Jen Reel

Hundreds of families gathered Saturday on the steps of the Texas Capitol for a warm and pleasant afternoon of picnicking and protesting their Second Amendment rights.

Among the featured speakers were Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, state Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands), McLennan County Republican Party Chairman Ralph Patterson, and former Graham County, Arizona, Sheriff Richard Mack (of Mack v. United States fame). This was just one of many “Guns Across America” rallies held in capital cities across the country, in light of President Obama’s recent push for tighter gun control laws following the Newtown school shooting.

Patterson, a high-profile gun rights advocate in Texas, is running for lieutenant governor, and Toth is a freshman member whose “Firearms Protection Act”—a federal gun ban ban, basically—has quickly raised his profile. Mack, though, particularly stood out for his rhetorical prowess.

“Some people have actually asked me, ‘Well do you think there’s some good to gun control?’” Mack said. “And I say if there was ever any good to gun control, it would be magic!”

You can buy his book to read more about that neat phrase, but briefly, the magical world Mack imagines is one full of gun-toting, law-abiding, trusting and trustworthy strangers. So trustworthy, in fact, that you ought to carry a gun at all times for self-defense.

Our tyrannical president garnered much attention from Mack as well. Mack played up the popular slights against President Obama, “our communist, Kenyan president.” (The line thrilled many in the crowd, including a family dressed appropriately in “SHOW ME YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE!” T-shirts).

Ralph Patterson also suggested theirs was a particularly Christian cause. “The second amendment was an enumeration of a right that I already had received from God,” he said. “God gave me the right to defend myself.”

Throughout the rally, there was clear sense of an alienation from those who’d support gun restrictions. The crowd seemed intensely angry at the prospect of tighter gun laws, afraid that someone out there was trying to take away their rights to, say, high-capacity magazines, or freedom from background checks.

They sounded ready to defend those rights, too.