A gun rally planned Saturday on the grounds of the Alamo is causing controversy over where it is being held and who gave permission for it.
The “Come and Take it San Antonio” rally is planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Alamo and is being sponsored by a number of groups that advocate gun rights.
The goal of the rally is to call attention to a San Antonio city ordinance that forbids the display of weapons in certain places.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson’s office is in charge of the Alamo grounds and approved the rally.
Patterson is also speaking at the rally.
He said the San Antonio ordinance, like those of many cities across the state, flies in the face of state law allowing the carrying of weapons and is illegal and unenforceable.
"Cities cannot regulate firearms,” Patterson said. “Those laws, those ordinances are unlawful, unconstitutional. And so the police force is kind of caught in the middle here."
As a legislator, Patterson authored Texas' concealed handgun law. He said a gun rally at the Alamo is appropriate because those early Texans died there protecting their right to bear arms.
He said the rally is completely different than an event earlier in the year at the Alamo promoting a boxing match that was highly criticized.
"The right to arms was one of the reasons we declare our independence from Mexico,” Patterson said. "(It) didn't have anything to do with boxing or gals in bikinis. Boxing event is for a for-profit endeavor."
But Native Americans and indigenous groups protested Friday at the Alamo, saying the site is also a burial ground for their ancestors and not the place for a gun rally.
Ronald Rocha, of the National Charro Federation USA said the Alamo, should be a place of reverence, not rallies.
"We do not believe that an armed display of force like that is appropriate on a Native American cemetery," Rocha said.
Fidel Castillo, of the Texas Indigenous Council, agreed, saying events like gun rallies could take away from the Alamo’s bid to become a World Heritage Site.
“Our ancestors, and not just our ancestors, your ancestors, everyone's ancestors are buried, these are burial grounds,” Castillo said. “This is a World Heritage Site nomination, so join us in our campaign for this nomination.”
While they protested, nearby a group from Lackland held a change of command ceremony. The Company H Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion was out in full force with uniforms and ceremonial swords and guns.
Castillo supported that gathering, saying it is different than a gun rally.
"They're having their ceremony and we honor that,” Castillo said. “This is a ceremony."
Patterson said the heroes who died at the Alamo would also support the gun rally, considering they were fighting for the right to bear arms.
"Texans had a right to arms,” Patterson said. “So I suspect that the gentlemen who gave the ultimate sacrifice here would be supportive."
The rally featuring Patterson is also garnering the attention of the City of San Antonio. There are worries about security amid all the gun-toting attendees.
Police Chief Bill McManus said officers will be prepared.
"We'll have a substantial presence," McManus said. “We will be on hand to hopefully prevent the public from becoming alarmed. We will be on hand to keep everyone safe.”
Hopes are there will be more hot air at the rally than hot tempers.