A Primer on Firearms

As you ought to have noticed, this blog is in part about guns. I haven’t written any direct firearms posts, but I sure will in the coming weeks and months. Some of those will include justifications for military small arms in the hands of US civilians, the relationships of firearms and the civil society, the morality of self-defense, and so on. Before I get into all that though, and especially based on a huge lack of gun education in America, I want to write a piece to explain terms and simply educate readers about guns in general. If you know little to nothing about guns then put on your learning cap, you’re about to be educated.

Gun Safety

The first subject that should always be addressed when teaching anything firearms, is safety. Guns are dangerous machines that must be respected, and as long as that respect, that adherence to safety, is followed, then they are safe as the shovel in your garage. So here are the three rules of gun safety, learn them, know them, teach them to your children; even if you don’t own a firearm or know anyone who does, there are estimated to be 300+ million guns in America, you or someone you love is bound to come in contact with one. It’s best to know what to do around them, rather then not, but more about gun education later.

  1. Always assume every gun is loaded, even if you know it’s not. Also, keep guns unloaded until you’re ready to use (or carry it.) The “Oh it ain’t loaded,” is usually followed by, “sh**, there’s a hole in my TV!” or worse. When given a firearm, check it yourself 3-4 times to assure it’s unloaded. You can never be too sure about this.
  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Never point it at anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy. This also includes while you’re loading/handling the weapon. If you go to a range and muzzle sweep (momentarily point the gun at) somebody, you’re likely going to get yelled at in some not so pretty language and probably asked to leave.
  1. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Until you are absolutely ready, until your gun is pointed at your target and you’ve decided that yes it’s time to shoot, don’t touch the trigger. You have to assume that you have a 2 ounce trigger (triggers are usually 3.5-12 pound pulls depending on what type it is) and that thinking about touching it can make it go off. (Note on carrying: always use a holster that securely covers the trigger and trigger guard. Those cheap soft-back nylon one-size fits most holsters are a no-go, sorry.)

By following the above rules you can guarantee that you’ll have a safe and enjoyable experience with firearms. Some additional safety notes, especially for those new to guns, never attempt to fire a large caliber weapon if you haven’t worked up to it. Don’t grab that 12 gage 3.5” super magnum shotgun if you’ve never shouldered a normal 12 gage before, don’t grab aa .500 SW Magnum revolver if you’ve never fired a .44 Rem-mag, don’t get behind a .50 BMG rifle if you’ve never handled and fired a standard .30 cal rifle. On scopes, don’t put your eye up to it,; they are designed for your eye to remain 1.5-4 inches behind it (depending on the scope design,) some are even designed to have your eye 8 or 9 inches behind it. If you’re holding a gun do so firmly and confidently. Same goes for if you’re shooting one, maintain a firm and strong grip; if you’re shooting a rifle or shotgun, make sure it is seated firmly against your shoulder. When shooting don’t put your hands, fingers, or other body parts in the way of moving parts of the gun (see slide bite, garand thumb.) To be safe just abide by the three rules of gun safety, don’t be scared of the firearm, and have some confidence and sense about you as you handle it. Nothing will build your confidence around guns more than education and getting out and handling them.

Ammunition Parts

cartridges

So everyone knows what a bullet is right? Maybe not. The diagram above shows the different parts of a rifle and handgun cartridge. Popular culture usually refers to the whole cartridge, or round, as the bullet, but that is clearly inaccurate nomenclature. The bullet is the projectile stuffed in the end of the case that points forward and becomes the projectile when the gun is fired. Most bullets are made of lead alloy with a copper jacket, though recently, there’s been an advent of all copper, all brass CNC machined bullets as well as polymer-copper composites and more. Why lead? Well, lead is fairly cheap, easy to form, and is very dense, which gives a bullet a relatively high weight. Bullets need to have some weight because they need to have enough inertia to be stable in flight. Inertia, momentum, and ballistics is a fun subject I will be sure to visit later with a dedicated article. Another point to be made about bullets is their shape. You can see in the above illustration that the handgun bullet is relatively short and rounded, where the rifle bullet is longer and more pointed. The rifle bullet is the more aerodynamic of the two, it will fly with less drop and less resistance. The rifle bullets are the more ideal projectile, while the handgun bullets have to be designed to 1) fit in a pistol grip magazine 2) feed reliably into the chamber in a confined space. A bullet is more ideal in flight the longer and thinner it is (to a degree.)

The propellant is the gunpowder that is contained inside the case. When the powder is ignited, gases rapidly expand and propel the bullet forward out of the case, and through the barrel of the firearm. The gunpowders of today are actually very different from the black powder used before the 20th century. Black powder (still used in replica period firearms and muzzleloaders) is a simple mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur. When black powder burns it produces a lot of visible smoke, meaning it is not quite an efficient burn (a lot of material is not consumed in the exothermic reaction) and burns relatively slow (though still instant from our perspective.) Modern gunpowder is actually called “smokeless” powder; that being mainly because when it burns it produces relatively very little smoke. The main component in most of these modern powders is nitrocellulose, though the actual makeup of many powders varies depending on use and type. These modern powders, instead of black randomly shaped grains, are in the form of discs, wafers, pellets, or even more complex shapes. Typically the rule of thumb is, the more surface area exposed, the faster the powder will burn. The correct burn rates are determined based of a large number of factors such as case strength, case length, bullet weight, desired muzzle velocity, et cetera.

The primer is the “ignition” or “spark plug” of the cartridge.; it is a small metallic disc at the back of the cartridge that acts as a percussion cap. When the firing pin or striker hits the primer and dents it, the primer ignites and sends sparks into the case igniting the propellant. Primers come in different hardnesses and sizes depending on the cartridge size and use. Harder primers tend to be used in military cartridges where the firing pin may rest against the primer before firing. Primers that are slightly oversized and sometimes crimped or sealed are used in similar cartridges where case pressures are high; this extra tightness is to prevent the primer from blowing out the back of the case.

The case is the iconic brass cylinder that holds all of these things together. When the cartridge is fired the case is extracted either by auto-ejection or manual ejection and flies out of the gun, hitting the hard ground with a distinct ringing clatter; this empty case is usual called a “spent case” or “brass” when it’s in bulk. The great majority of cartridge cases are in fact brass, with some also being nickel plated brass (the nickel increases case wall lubricity and aids in extraction;) there are also steel cases, aluminum cases (limited to some handgun calibers,) and polymer cases. Polymer cases are not popular, and I myself would assert that they are dangerous. Aluminum cases are used in some handgun loadings where there aren’t hot loadings (a hot load is one with more explosive potential via extra powder or more aggressive powder,) and are not meant to be reloaded/handloaded. Steel cases are popular in certain surplus military calibers such as 7.62×39 or 5.56×45 and sometimes are not reliable in feeding/extraction (but that is a factor of the gun not necessarily the cartridge itself.) Brass is used most because of its desirable material properties, it acts as a good heat sink (absorbs heat energy readily,) it is malleable, and it is not brittle.

Firearm Types

primerpicture

Primarily there are three types of modern firearms: handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Of these types there are numerous action types and loading configurations. Handguns are simply the small handheld firearms whose magazines are stored in the pistol grip (with the exception of the Mauser Broomhandle and some modern target pistols.) Handguns have generally short barrels all the way from 2-6 or more inches in length. Handguns are designed for defensive personal carry or as sidearms as opposed to primary offensive use weapons. This is due in part to their portable and concealable size as well as relatively underpowered cartridges useful only at limited ranges. Rifles are long-barreled firearms with fixed or adjustable stocks designed to be placed on the shoulder for stabilization. Barrel lengths on rifles can vary from 8 inches all the way to 30. The 8” rifles are usually short barrel carbines intended for close-quarters defensive, combat, and occasionally hunting uses. Rifles and handguns both fire metallic cartridges with a single projectile; that projectile going through a rifled barrel. A rifled barrel, is one that has grooves down its length in helical pattern. These grooves impart a spin on the bullet and increase its stability in flight through a gyroscopic effect. Shotguns have smoothbore barrels (with the exception of slug barrels) that fire multiple projectiles in a single shot. The cartridge design for shotguns also varies from that of handguns and rifles. The case is brass at the bottom where the powder is, but after that it is a plastic hull (LDPE/Low-Density PolyEhtylene.) Instead of a single bullet the shotgun shell holds anything from numerous BB’s to a handful of .38 caliber balls. A shotgun is much like a rifle with the exception of its smooth bore barrel and those barrels are generally longer. For hunting and competition shotgun barrel lengths are usually 26 to 30 or more inches long, while defensive use shotguns are usually 18-22” long. There are some special use shotguns whose barrels are around 8-10”.

Of all these firearm types there are single shot, rotating chamber, lever-action, bolt-action, and automatic actions. Firearms with a single action require a new cartridge to be inserted into the chamber after every single shot. The “chamber” is where the cartridge sits for the firing process. Rotating chamber actions, or revolving actions, are typically found in revolver handguns but also sometimes in old rifle or shotgun designs. These involve a cylinder with multiple chambers that rotates manually to place the cartridge between the firing pin and/or hammer and the barrel between shots. A lever-action firearm requires the actuation of a lever to load and extract cartridges. These cartridges are usually fed in from a tubular magazine that sits parallel and underneath the barrel. Bolt-action firearms require a different style of manual actuation where the rifleman unlocks and pulls the bolt back for extraction, then pushes it forward to reload the chamber. Automatic actions come in several forms, semi-automatic, burst-fire, and automatic (or full automatic.) An automatic action (of any type,) will automatically load the next round through the use of blowback or gas forces. In semi-automatic guns (the most abundant and popular action style) one trigger pull results in one projectile being fired and the next round being loaded to the chamber. In automatic fire, the trigger is depressed and held down, as long as the trigger is depressed the weapon will fired rapidly until it runs out of ammunition (this option is not readily available to the American public and a) costs as much as a brand new car, b) requires pages and pages of forms and authorizations to be filled out and filed with the ATF and FBI.) Burst-fire weapons will fire usually three rounds for one trigger pull and are just as unavailable to the American public as automatic action firearms.

Bolt action and automatic action styles are loaded from internal or external magazines except for the belt fed automatics (there are some semi-auto belt feds available to the American public but are costly and mostly for novelty.) Let me get this straight, the metal box you shove into your pistol or rifle is NOT a clip, it is a magazine. A magazine is a usually metal (sometimes polymer) box that holds the rounds together and pushes them upwards via a spring. The action will slide over the cartridges in the magazine and feed them into the chamber. A clip, is either a small portion of an ammunition belt, or most often, a stripper clip. A stripper clip is a metal bar that holds several rounds together that can be inserted quickly into a rifle’s internal magazine. Once the rounds are pushed into the magazine, the clip is discarded. Stripper clips (and other clips) were popular in early military bolt actions and semi-automatic battle rifles through World War 2 and the Korean War.

This article has been long, and hopefully helpful and informative. There will be additional articles in the future to expand on these details and explore the engineering and operation of different firearms. If you’ve got questions, there’s a comments section! I would be glad to teach and answer questions if you’ve got any. Share this with friends or family who know little or nothing about firearms. Education will be the key to restoring liberty. God bless!

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Weekly Call to Prayer: 9-4-16

In today’s fast paced society we all have a thousand different things going on and sometimes we just forget to do one of the most important things we ought to be doing, that is prayer. In this message I will go over some issues that I feel need praying over and any prayer requests I may receive from you. If you would like to submit a prayer request just use the Contact page found above to either email or facebook message me, if you don’t want names or situational info shared then just let me know and we can do unspoken requests. I just want to bring readers together, and invite any readers to open up hearts and minds to the healing love of Jesus Christ.

This weekend was the opening weekend for football season! At least for collegiate and professional levels. Pray for the safety of athletes all across the spectrum as football is a physically demanding and tough sport. Pray that your team will do well, though understand that prayer should align with God’s will, so that one may or may not be answered. Pray for the safety of those traveling to go to these games. Pray that young men across the country will grow and learn what it takes to overcome adversity.

Pray for those all along the east coast and in Florida that have been and will be effected by hurricane/tropical storm Hermine. Pray that power can be restored and damage repaired. Pray for the safety of those still experiencing the relentless rainfall of the storm. Pray also for anyone, or any group, who is at sea, or will be at sea in the storm. Pray that those in and around the sea stay vigilant and safe.

Over the next few months you’ll see this same paragraph, but we have a monumental choice before us in November. Pray that through this election that God-fearing individuals will be chosen to serve in higher and higher numbers. Pray that the lovers of liberty and freedom, and the non-corrupt will see more success this election than their adversaries. Throughout all the political disagreements of the day, let us remember that we are all Americans, and for those of us Christians that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is all I have for this week, remember to submit prayer requests if you would like or give feedback on any issues you’d like to see in here. Know also that the love of Jesus Christ can overcome all hardships, can restore hope, and repair all things broken. Have a blessed week!

PS: I will have a full content article coming out probably tomorrow, maybe Tuesday. I’m out of town this weekend and last weekend was busy for me (went to the shooting range!)

Picture: Yosemite National Park, Wikimedia Commons

Weekly Call To Prayer: 8-21-16

In today’s fast paced society we all have a thousand different things going on and sometimes we just forget to do one of the most important things we ought to be doing, that is prayer. In this message I will go over some issues that I feel need praying over and any prayer requests I may receive from you. If you would like to submit a prayer request just use the Contact page found above to either email or facebook message me, if you don’t want names or situational info shared then just let me know and we can do unspoken requests. I just want to bring readers together, and invite any readers to open up hearts and minds to the healing love of Jesus Christ.

This week we need to continue praying for the flood affected areas in Louisiana. Now in addition to praying for the families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed, lost loved ones, or sustained injuries, we also need to pray for the relief efforts that are continuing to grow and ramp up. Pray that those coming to assist with rebuilding and reconstruction get there safely and can provide hope and strength to broken and hurt communities. Pray about giving, pray that the supplies needed will be there, and if you can contribute then please do so.

Continue also to pray for all the children and young adults starting classes from preschool to college all across the country. Pray that they can make friends and build new relationships, that they can find hope and positiveness. Pray that their minds will be open for learning and molding, that they’ll think critically and apply themselves. Pray that our teachers get what they need and find support from parents and the community.

Over the next few months you’ll see this same paragraph, but we have a monumental choice before us in November. Pray that through this election that God-fearing individuals will be chosen to serve in higher and higher numbers. Pray that the lovers of liberty and freedom, and the non-corrupt will see more success this election than their adversaries. Throughout all the political disagreements of the day, let us remember that we are all Americans, and for those of us Christians that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is all I have for this week, remember to submit prayer requests if you would like or give feedback on any issues you’d like to see in here. Know also that the love of Jesus Christ can overcome all hardships, can restore hope, and repair all things broken. Have a blessed week!

Painting: Sierra Nevada by Albert Bierstadt

Science, Philosophy, & God

I see the alarming trend of many of my peers all along the “millennial” spectrum turn to atheism and become worshipers of science, philosophy, and government. There are countless factors that have led to these people turning away from God (or never facing Him to begin with), but burgeoning popular science culture, a hard left shift in media, and the demonization/criminalization of the perceived church are three of the more significant factors. The defense of millennial atheists, thus, is usually centered around science and occasionally philosophy. There are volumes worth of books and commentary discussing and arguing these topics from both sides, but here, I will just have a topical, basic approach to the issues.

The science pop culture of today will tell you that “science disproves God, it disproves the Creation story in the Bible, and science is perfect,” or something to that effect; all three arguments of which are full of holes (the American education system has failed to teach critical thinking.) First, there are many who argue that science actually proves God’s existence (Gerald Schroeder, Dr. Francis Collins), which regardless of whether you agree, proves that the whole of the science community is not in agreement on the subject. You see an argument from many believing scientists that the Big Bang theory pretty much is exactly what’s written in the Bible.

One of the biggest battles I see constantly played out is the die hard evolutionists versus the Bible/Christians/God, and it’s total folly. To begin, evolution, nor any notion towards evolution, is mentioned in the Bible; at no point does the Bible read,”evolution isn’t real, Darwin is a false prophet!”. The fact that those words never appears really nullifies the idea that evolution disproves anything in the Bible. When looking at the Genesis creation story we have to consider context and the people who carried and told the story. It was probably originally told for countless years orally and eventually recorded in ancient Hebrew to stone or rock, and kept in some written form for thousands of years. You would not have been able to explain to these nomads riding around and pitching goatskin tents the concept of astronomical units of measure or the concept of billions of years; but, you could explain to them the concept of a day, a fixed period of time with a beginning and end. It’s entirely conceivable then that when the story says on the 6th day, He created man in His own image, that the “day” part, lasted millions of years. It is a fact that the belief in evolution and belief in God and the Bible, are not in direct conflict with one another.

There’s another belief out there in the pop culture science community today that science is the definitive end-all-be-all and whatever claim science makes is inherently true and undeniable. This argument is the complete opposite of what science is actually about; science is about challenging the status quo, it is a relentless and perpetual pursuit of understanding through the repetition of the scientific method. If one scientist makes a claim that his or her hypothesis is true, then it is then the responsibility of other scientists to carry out similar experiments to verify this. Even when this is done, the science doesn’t always hold. Sometimes certain variables that have an effect on an experiment or model aren’t even known of at the time of the experiment. Any experiment could potentially be made null and void 50 years later. It can also be pointed out that the whole of the science community, or even a majority, doesn’t always agree on some subjects. The scientific community, just like any other human endeavor, is marked by a certain degree of group think and tribal politics. It would simply be farcical to put one’s whole faith in such a community that is subject to the same imperfections as the rest of the human race.

Lastly, I’d like to touch briefly on philosophy because it seems to me this is another group that has a serious anti-God, anti-religion persona. The arguments that I see coming most from this area are either “God created everything, so he must have created all the evil in the world too,” or,”how could a just God exist when we live in this world that is so full of injustice?” To answer the first, God did not create evil, God did not create everything; God created the universe, all the celestial bodies, the earth, all its’ creatures, and human kind; the rest was up to us (plus the influence of a fallen angel, Satan.) Therefore, as has been said before, evil is simply the absence of God, the absence of love; from the beginning of our existence as mankind we have been granted free-will and it is that that allows us to be corruptible. The next question is answered in part by the previous statements about free-will, but it also entertains a deeper exploration into ourselves. In Mere Christianity, a series of radio talks now printed in book form, C.S. Lewis said,” Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” Which outside of meaning/no-meaning this can translate into, how can we perceive a world that is unjust, if we have no internal guide-map as to what is just and unjust. The fact that we know what is unjust, shows that God has given us that internal guide-map.

What I’ve written above is just a ripple on the surface of very broad issues, but I want to point out mainly that science, or philosophy, should never be a reason to not to have faith and believe. If God allowed for absolute scientific proof of his existence and absolute physical proof of Jesus Christ, then it just wouldn’t be called faith. We can observe the nuances of our physical world, learn and experiment, and debate philosophy all we want, but there are only a handful of truths that really matter in this life. Those truths are that there is one true God, the God of Abraham, and that the only way to Heaven is through our faith and declaration that Jesus Christ, who gave his life to cleanse us of our sins, is Lord. There are many important truths that follow, but those are by far the most important, nothing else matters if you don’t get those right.

Hope you enjoyed, God bless!

Sources:

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 38-39.

 

 

Weekly Call to Prayer: 8-14-16

One post I would like to have each week is a simple call to prayer. In today’s fast paced society we all have a thousand different things going on and sometimes we just forget to do one of the most important things we ought to be doing, that is prayer. In this message I will go over some issues that I feel need praying over and any prayer requests I may receive from you. If you would like to submit a prayer request just use the Contact page found above and submit it, if you don’t want names or situational info shared then just let me know and we can do unspoken requests. I just want to bring readers together, and invite any readers to open up hearts and minds to the fulfilling love of Jesus Christ.

First, we all need to be praying for Louisiana, specifically the regions affected by heavy flooding. Please pray for those in the affected areas, pray for their safety, that they can get help if they need it, and find their way out if they are trapped. Pray for the National Guard members who are bringing help, and for all the disaster relief workers who, if not already present, will be. Pray for them to have safe travels and for the prompt reconstruction of the damaged communities.

Over the past few weeks and continuing on through this month children across America will begin or have begun returning to school. Pray for a fulfilling and successful school year, that our children and students will be open to learning, that whatever burdens may be upon them outside of school be lifted. Pray also for the teachers and the teaching community as they carry a huge weight of responsibility that goes unnoticed and largely unrewarded.

Over the next few months you’ll see this same paragraph, but we have a monumental choice before us in November. Pray that through this election that God-fearing individuals will be chosen to serve in higher and higher numbers. Pray that the lovers of liberty and freedom, and the non-corrupt will see more success this election than their adversaries. Throughout all the political disagreements of the day, let us remember that we are all Americans, and for those of us Christians that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is all I have for this week, remember to submit prayer requests if you would like or give feedback on any issues you’d like to see in here. Know also that the love of Jesus Christ can overcome all hardships, can restore hope, and repair all things broken. Have a blessed week!

Picture Credits: Mughees Rehman, The file is licensed under the Creative Commons
                 Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

Gonzales Flag: A Rally Against Tyranny

Welcome to God, Guns, Liberty, and welcome to my first post! With this post I will begin a series discussing the histories and meanings of several iconic flags and messages seen throughout the United States today. This post will discuss the story of the Gonzales flag, known to some as the “Come and Take It” flag, and its place in the Texas War for Independence.

This flag’s story begins in 1824 when the Second Constituent Congress met to draft a new Mexican constitution. This was done at the tail end of over a decade of war and turmoil in the former nation of New Spain. The Mexican Revolution had been fought and won, and the independent government that rose to power was the First Mexican Empire. The Empire, a constitutional monarchy, led by Emperor Agustin de Iturbide did not last. In 1822 the appointed congress failed to pass a constitution for the new empire; then, Agustin, believing the congress to have failed in its duties, dissolved it. This would be his undoing, a strong opposition to what was perceived now as an absolute monarchy, began drafting a plan to reinstate a congress. This movement was led by the soon to be infamous General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. After some fighting between loyalist forces and Santa Anna’s supporters, Agustin saw his power slipping away. At this point he abdicated himself and the First Mexican Republic was born.

The Mexican Republic’s constitution instated a federal republic, not unlike that in the young United States, where a limited federal government presided over a number of sovereign states. Due to this return of power to the states, the state of Coahuila y Tejas was allowed to draft its own laws on immigration and colonization subject to only a few federal restrictions (no colonization near international borders or the coast without congressional approval, and the right of the federal government to restrict immigration from certain people groups for the sake of national security.) The state government made plans to settle around 9000 families through the use of empresario contracts. An empresario (direct translation: entrepreneur) was a person contracted to manage the settlement of a set number of families into an agreed upon tract of land. The number of families promised would determine the amount of land granted in the contract.

One such empresario was Green DeWitt. His contract with the state of Coahuila y Tejas was for the settlement of 400 Anglo-American families in an area along the Guadalupe River, the capital of which was to become Gonzales. The settlement, beginning in 1825, grew slowly over the following 6 years. The DeWitt colony, as well as surrounding colonies, were victim to repeated attacks and raids by Comanche indians. As a result in 1831, DeWitt wrote a letter to Ramón Músquiz (political chief of San Antonio de Bexar) requesting a cannon that could be used to ward off or deter the Indian threat. Some letters were sent back and forth and a few months later a DeWitt colonist arrived from Bexar with the cannon.

The cannon itself was reinforced brass 6-pounder. The cannon had been spiked, meaning a spike had been driven into its touch hole (where the fuse goes) disabling it from true military or defensive purposes. The cannon could still be fired, though it required a long fuse that stretched down the barrel, and it would not be able to fired anywhere near rapidly. Likely the cannon was used more as a visual and auditory deterrent to the natives as it was displayed in a blockhouse and occasionally fired without a projectile. The colonists retained the cannon peacefully until 1835.

It was in 1835 that the Mexican Republic experienced a dramatic swing from its position as a federalist republic to the centralista dictatorship. Under the presidency of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna the government policy suddenly changed to abolish and nullify the sovereignty and power of the individual Mexican states. During this period the centralista government began attempts at disarming and disbanding state militias. One example that seemed to effect the Texan impression of this new government was the behavior of Santa Anna towards the Zacateca rebellion. The people of the Zacateca state had formally denounced the new centralista government and Santa Anna personally led an army into the area to defeat the rebellion. Upon defeat he allowed his men, as a “reward”, to rape and pillage the towns for two days.

Around this same time Domingo de Ugartechea, military commander in Texas, sent a dispatch of five men to Gonzales to retrieve the cannon. This order was a part of a campaign to disarm local militias and to rebuild or refill the government armories. The colonists, who had long been loyal to the Mexican government, had decided now that maybe this government didn’t truly represent them. The men sent were detained as prisoners and a message was returned to Ugartechea that he cannon would not be handed over. In response, Ugartechea sent 100 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Francisco de Castañeda to retrieve the cannon.

Upon Castañeda’s arrival to the area he and his host approached the west side of the rain-swollen Guadalupe River. All the rafts and ferries normally used to ford the river had been removed, and the group was met by eighteen armed settlers on the opposite side. These settlers, now known as the Old Eighteen, confronted Castañeda and responded to his request for the cannon with “I cannot now, and will not deliver to you the cannon.” Some sources also claim that at some point the eighteen responded by also saying,”There it is, come and take it.” Regardless of what was actually said Castañeda’s army retreated to camp on a hill overlooking Gonzales some few hundred yards away and the settler’s wives quickly crafted a flag emblazoned with a cannon, a lone star, and the words “Come and take it.” This flag and the phrase “Come and Take It,” would become their rallying cry against the threats to their sovereignty and disarmament.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Replica of the actual flag on display in the Texas State Capitol

Over the next few days reinforcements from nearby settlements came to the assistance of the citizens of Gonzales and their forces grew from around 80 to somewhere between 150-200. In this time Castañeda moved his army further west to a more defensible position and the settlers had blacksmiths refurbish the cannon, unspike it, and prepare it for military use. The next day the settlers approached the Mexican camp and initiated a skirmish. There was a pause in the fighting where Castañeda pleaded again with the settlers for return of the cannon, but unable to reach a consensus with the settlers, fighting resumed. During the second bout of fighting the cannon was fired once, the projectile was nothing more than assortment of loose metal that could be hastily gathered by the settlers, as they did not actually have cannon balls. This shot would become known as the first shot of the War for Texas Independence and the ensuing skirmish as the Battle of Gonzales. When the fighting broke out again Castañeda made the decision to retreat and return to San Antonio.

Shortly after Texas declared independence from Mexico and Santa Anna built an army to invade and put down the insurrection. What followed was a campaign of destruction that included the battle at the Alamo and Goliad, and was ended by General Sam Houston near the San Jacinto River. Upon Santa Anna’s embarrassing defeat he ordered the remaining Mexican forces out of Texas and the Republic of Texas was born.

The Gonzales flag is a representation of man’s natural battle for liberty against the encroaching arms of tyranny and against the current and past attempts at disarmament. The federalist Mexican Republic had satisfied the Texian desire for freedom, for self-government and reliance, but when power was centralized it stole from them the ability to govern themselves and look after their own affairs. It was realized then, and still by many now (but not enough,) that local control, local government and representation is and was the best form of government. Let us not forget the struggles, the defeats, and the victories of the Texas Revolution, and let us not forget the value of self-government, of decentralized power, and lastly, of responsible self-defense.

God Bless.

 

Sources:

https://searchinginhistory.blogspot.com/2015/06/plan-of-casa-mata.html

http://mexicanhistory.org/firstempire.htm

http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/constit1824.htm

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fde55

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ugm01

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ued02

http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/batgon.htm

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ued02

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ued02

http://mexicanhistory.org/santaanna.htm

http://www.keyharrington.com/About-Us/Battle-of-Gonzales.shtml

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/texas-declares-independence

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gonzales_Flag.JPG