On Saturday, several hundred pro-gun activists demonstrated with long guns in the plaza of The Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas. The organizers' Facebook page didn't specify why The Alamo was chosen as the site of the demonstration, but its history provides clues.
The iconic Spanish mission/fortification was the site of the bloodiest military defeat (but perhaps the greatest moral victory) in the Texas Revolution. A semi-organized band of armed civilians held off the Mexican Army for 3 days, before capitulating in a final bloodbath once their enemy breached the walls. The Anglo fighters revolted against Santa Anna's Mexican government because the Federalist constitution of 1824 had been disregarded, and the Mexican army had attempted months earlier to seize some of the Texans' armaments (specifically a canon). The battle over a small canon in Gonzalas, Texas, the first of the revolution, gave rise to the now famous flag:
Prior to yesterday's event, the San Antonio police had harassed open carriers of firearms in the city, and threatened to arrest the demonstrators. Because of the large number and peaceful nature of the protesters, no incidents with the police are known at this time.
There are lessons we can take from this event here and now, and some still to come. The lack of incidents with police is remarkable. San Antonio is an extremely blue city, with an aggressively anti-gun police chief. The protester's fortune cannot be written off to Texas being a gun-friendly state. Rather, their methods of entry to the demonstration site and conduct while there should be studied. It boils down to strength in numbers, and polite behavior. One of the event's speakers posted a list of widely circulated guidelines on his blog prior to the event, and they seemed to have been effective.
The long term effect of demonstrations like this is not entirely clear. We saw something similar just days ago when jilted veterans deposited the "Barrycades" blocking off war memorials onto the White House lawn. The media predictably treats these displays with low-key coverage. Twitter posts are also predictable; liberals decry the disruptive nature of liberty lovers, and conservatives express approval. Amongst liberals in Texas, the reaction has been so far limited to a few pitiful and muted editorials. The obligatory tsk-tsk in the Fort Worth Star Telegram is even unsigned.
History is rife with examples of civil disobedience leading to greater victories for the rights of those struggling, but it is also rife with examples of nothing at all coming from demonstrations. As the strategy pertains to gun rights, playing nice and polite politics has met with limited success as of late. The fact is that most legislators in both parties are uneasy with America's love of the gun.
For today, this civil disobedience must be marked as a victory. San Antonio's petty Ayatollahs were simply too cowed by the horde of free citizens to practice their usual "we don't like your kind around here, boy" routine. It is a good thing when the nanny state is unmasked as impotent.
Brae Jager blogs at braejager.blogspot.com.