WASHINGTON, February 14 -
Mr. Speaker, it was fall of 1835. Mexican President Santa Anna had dissolved the Constitution and made himself dictator. Tensions began to flare between his oppressive government and the liberty minded desires of Texians and Tejanos. To suppress the rumblings of unrest and revolution the Mexican military leaders began their quest to quietly disarm the Texians. One of the first actions was to retrieve a cannon lent to the Texian colonists at Gonzales. The famous bronze cannon was loaned to the Gonzales colonists by the Mexican government in 1831 to defend themselves from hostile Apaches and Comanches. Mexican Corporal Casimiro De LeÛn and a few soldiers were sent to reclaim the cannon. That task was easier said than done.
The feisty Texians said they were keeping the gun and took the soldiers prisoner. The ladies of settlement even made a flag bearing the words ``Come and Take It!'' to be flown over the cannon. The cannon had been buried in a peach orchard near the Colorado River for safety, but was retrieved shortly after and readied for battle and mounted on cart wheels. The Mexican government responded by sending Lieutenant Francisco de Castaneda of the Mexican Army and 150 troops to put an end to the dispute. They were met by a militia of frontier Texians and Indian fighters who simply said, ``There it is--come and take it.'' After a few shots were fired by both sides the Mexican army left the engagement. The Battle of Gonzales went on to be known as the ``Lexington of Texas''. It was Act I of the Texas War of Independence. It was similar to Lexington because sixty years earlier the British had tried to seize the weapons of the colonists at Lexington and Concord. The Texas War, like the American War of Independence, began because oppressive government tried and failed to disarm the people. The citizens of Texas would not surrender their arms to appease the overbearing Mexican regime. History has an odd way of repeating itself.
Flash forward 200 years. One night I was at a town hall meeting in Spring when a local preacher came up to me to share his concerns about where our country was headed. It is always refreshing for me to hear from normal people in Southeast Texas after spending all week long in the land of the bureaucrats. I will always remember this particular neighbor because of his strong opinions and his shirt. It had a photograph of the Bible and two .45 Colt revolvers with the words ``I love my Bible'' and ``I love my guns''. Naturally, they were in the right order. God then guns. Leave it to a Texas preacher to keep it all in perspective. You wouldn't see that shirt up in Washington, DC. Some elites outside of our Great State fear ``us southerners'' and our colt 45s, and ridicule those who cling to their guns and religion. In Texas we have a rich tradition of proudly celebrating the right to bear arms. The elites seem to forget that not only do we cling to guns and religion, we cling to the Constitution that protects these rights. Many Texans believe the call for gun control is really a call for more government control.
Texans aren't the only ones who have historically defended this right. During the birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers were very concerned--almost paranoid--that a strong Federal Government would trample on the rights of the people. Their concerns were warranted because that is exactly what happened to the colonists, and that's what governments historically do--trample on individual liberty. So after the ratification of the Constitution, the Framers purposely included a lis