Disrespecting Texas Heroes

William Barrett Travis and Stephen F. Austin, two great heroes of Texas' historic fight against the Mexican tyrant Santa Anna, would be rolling in their graves if they could watch the Travis County Court of Commissioners and City of Austin maneuver to end gun shows in their namesake city and county.

The moves by court and council might seem innocuous, appropriate and innocent enough to the media-washed voters in this blue dot county of red Texas. But ominously they signal that the city and county, governed almost exclusively by liberals, will likely move down the path of ever-stricter gun laws -- like the ones that don't secure the safety of citizens in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., etc.

Of course, there is absolutely no set of facts showing that the transfer of buying and selling of guns between people at gun shows have played a role in any of the mass shootings now dominating the attention agitprop media or liberal elected officials. No matter. The left is on the march.

On Tuesday, county commissioners took up the request from the City of Austin to discontinue leasing its Travis County Exposition Center to the Saxet Gun Show. The commissioners are delaying final decision until legal matters are reviewed. They surely will be looking for some scintilla of evidence that Saxet has not complied with the contract. Saxet has already posted deposits for nine more shows through January 2014. If the Commissioners can't break the contract, it's a good bet they would not renew for additional gun shows in 2014, given the liberal inclinations of the current court.

For its part, the Austin city council is exploring whether they can require a special permit, issued by city council, for those who want to allow their private property to be used by gun show operators. Good luck with that.

Even if an operator were to get the permit -- and who knows what hoops and extra costs for insurance, security, extra background checks would be associated with getting that permit -- the Austin chief of police Art Acevedo has already indicated his penchant for harassing attendees of gun shows on private property. In 2009 and early 2010, when liberals were rushing to implement Obama's transformation, Austin police began monitoring gun show parking lots on private property, allegedly watching for potentially illegal gun sales. (Aside: They should have been in Arizona, watching the ATF.) The property owner, the H-E-B grocery store chain, seemed to have sensed possibilities for potential brand reputational damage or legal skirmishes with the city of Austin, ending its contract with the former Texas Gun Show operator. That's when the Saxet Gun Show operator decided to make a go of it at the Travis County Exposition Center, beginning in 2010.

If political pressure heats up in support of the gun shows, it seems the liberals are floating a "middle ground" option that could play well with low-information voter constituencies. They would require some sort of background check for gun sales transpiring between individuals while on county property. Conceivably, if two people agreed to a gun sale while in the parking lot at the Travis County Exposition Center they would have to somehow initiate a process that involved a background check. Again, good luck with that being effective. (And effective against what hobgoblin precisely? I might add.)

The slow, incremental dismantling of freedoms of association and freedom to bear arms in Austin and Travis County is a disgrace to the memories of Travis and Austin. We need to live up to those men's efforts to secure Texas as a free state.

In late 1835, Austin returned to Texas after 18 months in Mexican prisons. While he had spent most of the 15 years prior trying to work with the various Mexican governments for federalized autonomy of Anglo-Saxon colonies, his efforts to secure United States-like rights of speedy trials by jury and self-rule were for naught. His time in prison -- when no judge would accept responsibility for his trial, release, or execution -- convinced Austin, upon his eventual release, to urge Texans to take up arms.

In response, the Mexican army, in late 1835, began the process of seizing arms and military stores. Big mistake, of course. Texan colonists near Gonzalez refused a Mexican colonel's order to surrender a small cannon they used to defend against Indian attacks. This ignited a series of encounters between the Mexican army and colonists that ended with the Texans firing the first shots of its Revolutionary War.

Travis, for his part, had by 1835 already had several encounters with Mexican authorities.

In 1832 he had been handed over by "moderate" Texans to Juan Bradburn, a former American citizen, who commanded a Mexican garrison on Galveston Bay. The moderates wanted no part of association with Travis, as he was viewed as wanting independence from Mexico and thereby causing trouble in an era when treason was taken seriously. Then, upon understanding that Travis might be court-martialed and shot as a result of their betrayal, the settlers had a change of heart. Various events ensued resulting in a prisoner exchange, of Travis and another fireband, for 19 Mexican cavalry officers.

Later, as leader of a militia in 1835 Travis got involved in another fracas and forcefully expelled 40 Mexicans from a small fort at Anahuac on the Trinity Bay, tried to get involved in the dispute over the aforementioned Gonzalez canon, and then wound up at the Alamo in 1836. Despite having ample opportunity to flee, Travis stayed with James Bowie to defend the Alamo and forever make his mark in history as stubbornly defiant to tyrannical authority, and a martyr for the cause of freedom.

The council members and county commissioners who are walking back the freedoms of the men and women of Texas, secured as they were by Travis and Austin, deserve quick electoral defeat at their next election.

Joe Gimenez is a publicist in Austin, Texas, and author of the ebook Multiplying Life's Riches with Christian Free Enterprise.