It's agreed. Lonnie Phillips is as grief-stricken as a father can be.
The San Antonio man has a unique perspective on gun rights.
His daughter lost her life to a shooter in a darkened Denver-area theater one midnight not long ago as fans of Batman gathered for a premiere showing of an instant cult classic at an Aurora, Colorado shopping mall. Though the pictures are clear, no one really knows why.
The joy of young people on the hunt of a hoot suddenly turned to panic, then terror, and left a stunned, numbed nation in the throes of a deadly confusion, a spreading stain of guilt and horror compelled by the simple notion of, “Now, what?”
Lonnie Phillips explains that his choice to not carry a pistol for his own defense, or the defense of others, is as much a right as any other person's choice to go armed in self defense, as guaranteed by the Texas and U.S. Constitutions.
"Why should we, who choose not to own weapons, have to be intimidated by someone openly carrying a weapon?" said Mr. Phillips. "My freedom not to have to carry a weapon to be safe is as paramount to liberty as Jerry Patterson's right to open carry."
Intimidation. Safety. Freedom from fear. Security for a man's precious children.
The words just leap out of the good, gray columns of Houston's big daily, bespoken by men vying for the top jobs in state politics, all of them clamoring to get on board the Second Amendment band wagon without having to do much about the notion that a man or woman can strap it on, let it show, and thereby make the quiet statement that you've got it – that cold blue steel or polished stainless hog leg – and you will use it.
The code of the west.
Some people consider it the sizzle on the steak of freedom, and Texas is only one of a select few states – 6 in number – that, unlike such out west bastions of liberty as Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, won't have any form of it, this thing of carrying a pistol openly.
To a man, it turns out, GOP candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General – all have the same bright idea, a go-along-to-get-along deal as Democratic as any New Deal.
Tell the people, the God-fearing, ever-loving, tax-paying, hard-working people, that if they get a concealed carry handgun license, they will have the same privilege to openly carry a firearm, in certain limited circumstances, as they do to carry a concealed firearm.
You buy it, prove you deserve it because of your clean criminal record, that you've demonstrated a lack of mental pathology in your past behavior, that you have paid a license fee, taken a test, cheerfully submitted to training by an instructor certified by the state police.
Such a deal. Same license. Same deal. Same same.
One problem raises its ugly head, and the conservative men of good government all know it, going in. Open carry by concealed carry licensees is an idea that has received short shrift in every session of the legislature since Jerry Patterson authored the current concealed carry handgun license law – way back in the early nineties.
Someone calmly, casually bats it down before it gets off the place-kicker's toe and starts its meteoric climb for the crossbar of the goal post – every time.
Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, blocked the measure from a vote in the most recent Legislature because, he said, the 2013 bill did not have support from leadership or members of the House and Senate during the session.
He added that he was not alone. "I'm not a big fan," Pickett said. "But I didn't stop it. If there would have been support from the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker, it would have been signed into law."
And that's why Mr. Patterson made his historic move – drew that line in the sand – at the Alamo on Saturday, October 19.
As Texas Land Commissioner, he has charge of the upkeep and maintenance of the Shrine, and he made the highly symbolic use of its graceful old plaza available for the use of the Come and Take It movement. For many years previously, the Daughters of the Texas Revolution have limited the use of the Shrine of the Alamo to certain non-political events, such as an annual meeting of the Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. and A.M., to commemorate the siege and martyrdom of their brethren who were doomed by their bid for freedom from tyranny.
Patterson allowed the rally to take place, the first of its type in the recent memory of men and women living in the Alamo City.
He read from the Texas Declaration of Independence, a pugnacious document voted out by the Texians at Washington-on-the-Brazos so long ago. He reminded the hundreds of rifle-toting men and women that chief among the many complaints of the Texians was the fact that the government of Mexico had sent its dragoons to take their cannon, their muskets and pistols.
In conversation following his public remarks, Mr. Patterson reminded his listeners that since the passage of the Concealed Carry Handgun License law, cities and counties have passed certain “unconstitutional ordinances” requiring peace officers to arrest those who go armed, to confiscate their weapons pending investigation and trial.
“SAPD (San Antonio Police Department) is operating under an ordinance that is unlawful and unconstitutional. That needs to be changed.” he concluded.
The conflict today is as plain as that of March, 1836; either the bad folks know you've got it, and you will use it, or they don't.