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Want to celebrate America’s independence like a Founding Father? Consider getting to a range. It’s what they would have wanted. The celebration of America’s independence, self-determination and revolutionary spirit is rooted in a heritage of responsible firearm ownership.

John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and later the second President of the United States wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 would be a day generations of Americans would celebrate with “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” His prediction was off by two days. That was a day the Second Continental Congress voted for the Declaration and the day he and 55 others signed it. July 4 would become the day Congress formally adopted it.

Still, Adams was recognizing that America’s celebration of its birth was also a recognition of the role of firearms in shaping the nation’s identity. America was a nation literally hewn from a wild frontier and birthed under the sound of gunfire.

American Arms Production

The first firearms produced in America started “literally as a cottage industry” wrote Chris Kyle, former Navy SEAL and author of American Gun, the book he was writing when he was tragically killed.

American guns, he explained, were adaptations of European designs to meet the demands of the American frontier. They were shorter, lighter and rifled, giving the “American Long Rifle,” or Kentucky Long Rifle its place in history. They were the original American guns, designed, manufactured and employed to meet the unique needs of hunting America’s landscapes.

 

Those rifles were also employed in America’s rebellion against the British crown. British Lt. Gen Thomas Gage sent a 700-man force from Boston to Lexington and Concord, Mass., to seize a cache of guns and gunpowder. On April 19, 1775, they were met by 77 Colonists bearing whatever guns they could bring. Likely, among them were American made firearms.

More than a year before America declared its sovereignty, the heritage of America’s fierce independence backed by private gun ownership had taken root.

The notion of a nation’s citizenry was revolutionary for the time, but not for the Founders.

James Madison, America’s fourth president, wrote in Federalist 46 that private firearm ownership was an essential trait of the American character.

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

General George Washington established the “Arsenal at Springfield” in 1777, later known as Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. In 1795 it went from storing guns to producing them with the 1795 Springfield Flintlock Infantry Musket, just a year after now-President Washington ordered the arsenal to become a full-fledged armory.

It would be the first of many storied American gun manufacturers, including Eliphalet Remington, Samuel Colt, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson, Benjamin Henry, John Moses Browning, Hiram Maxim and in later years, Eugene Stoner, the designer of the modern sporting rifle.

Celebration of Arms

Even the first celebrations of the Declaration of Independence involved firearms. Five days after the Declaration’s signing, it was read aloud in New York City in front of General Washington and his troops.

The reaction was as stunning as it was fitting. Soldiers and citizens went to Bowling Green, a park in Manhattan, and promptly tore down a statue of King George III on horseback. To add insult to injury, they melted the statute for musket balls, 42,088 of them to be exact.

Guns, and often big guns, were used to mark America’s independence. July 4, 1777 saw ships’ cannons fired 13 times in honor of the colonies, along with fireworks. George Washington celebrated in 1778 with a double ration of rum for the troops and an artillery salute. In 1810, the War Department established the “national salute,” of firing one gun for each of the states, which was 17 at the time.

The character of America’s firearm heritage is true to today. Millions of Americans have chosen to purchase a firearm for the first time in the last two years. These are law-abiding citizens seizing their God-given right to keep and bear arms, for self-preservation and self-reliance. It is entirely fitting, and an honor to our national firearm heritage, to make a little noise at a local range and celebrate America’s birth.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. “George Washington celebrated in 1778 with a double ration of rum for the troops and an artillery salute.”

    How timely you should mention that. A local gun store owner is a history buff and loves the colonial period history. He is having a 4th of July sale, price reductions and additional off if you are age 65 or older, or female, or a military veteran. There are a couple different options for the things given free with the purchase, you can choose two magazines or a box of ammo. And since its so hot here lately, every purchase also comes with a ‘double ration of rum’ (while supplies last) – its actually a 1 liter bottle of coca-cola with a special stick on label they had made that says “Washington’s double ration rum”

    I was there yesterday, a news van pulled up. Apparently they got a call from someone about the sale, and in walks the news lady and a cameraman with the camera going. She wanted to do a story on the gun store giving away alcohol beverages with a gun purchase. The owner said “sure, why not”. They were disappointed but each got a bottle of “Washington’s double ration rum”. It was pretty funny. It would have been even better if they had run a story, free publicity.

  2. Well, I am sad to say that I wasn’t planning to go shooting anything tomorrow. Now I have to find a way to go shoot something–in spite of the *^#& heat.

    • I’m over 65(79) and a veteran(U S Air Force) but I am not a female. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad……Meatloaf, may he rest in peace. Probably too far for me to travel. Happy 4th of July all!

      • Hey, birth equipment can be ignored and chose your own “pronoun”/gender/species then change it at any time. Go for the trifecta of discounts.

    • “Well, I am sad to say that I wasn’t planning to go shooting anything tomorrow.”

      It seems to me California’s ban on .50 cal. or larger is un-constitutional, since .54 cal. rifles were around at the beginning of this country.

      Call the lawyers! I can’t wait for the look on Dianne Feinstein’s wrinkled old face…

      *Snicker* 🙂

      • Geoff,

        I am sad yet again to report: my muzzleloader is only 0.50 caliber and not .54 caliber so I cannot pay homage to our Founders–and give a giant proverbial middle-finger to California–in that regard.

        Having said that, I do have a 12-gauge shotgun with a rifled slug barrel (rifled the entire length) that is significantly larger than .50 caliber. Maybe I touch off a round or two out of that today!

        • I thought shotguns were called that because they weren’t rifled. Sounds like it it could really put the hurt on someone for a pretty good distance too.

        • muckracker,

          According to Hornady: their 12 gauge SST shotgun slugs launch a sabot with a .50 caliber, 300 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps. That is devastating to pretty much anything alive out to 200 yards.

          I have often pondered whether I would use that platform if I ever manage to draw an elk tag in my state. It’s either that or .30-06 Springfield shooting 180 grain bullets. Somehow, I have to think that a .50 caliber 300 grain bullet with an impact velocity of something like 1,400 feet-per-second at 200 yards will be lethal much quicker than a .30 caliber 180 grain bullet with an impact velocity of 2,500 feet-per-second–when we are talking about such a large animal.

        • deer slugs out of a smoothbore can be rifled them selves to impart some spin. for rifled barrels, the slugs have no twist.
          i never experimented with a rifled slug in a grooved bore. probably an aha moment.

        • uncommon,
          Just me but I’d feel more comfortable with the 30.06 Ruger and 3×9 with Hornady 180 grain. Elk jerky sounds so good!

  3. Everyone in my rural residential neighborhood is loading up the ATVs and heading out to public land to celebrate with shotguns, AR15s, lever-actions, muzzle-loaders, revolvers and pistols. The soda cans won’t make it out alive!

    Then it’s back to fire up the grill, open the chilled beer, and lounge in the pool. Once darkness falls, we’ll have blast setting off fireworks.

    Happy 4th!

  4. I’m going to take the M1 Garand and blast a bunch of water jugs I just filled up. Maybe a little binary if the mood hits me.

  5. I was hoping no one would celebrate this year, no fireworks, no traveling, no extra expenses,
    just the bare essentials .
    Kinda show theBiden how happy we really are.
    I’ve went back to riding a bicycle , not that I cant afford the gas but because if theBiden wants to raise the price I’ll quit using it.
    3 days of America refusing to drive just might make a difference?

    • “I’ve went back to riding a bicycle…”

      I’ve gotten back into that recently (since nearly getting killed on my old Trek 1200) and boy, I’m out of shape. 🙁

      All it will take are hours on the new one (actually an old one some parked after they bought it 20 years ago).

      Watch out for F-150s, OK? 😉

        • I can not understand the need for dedicated bike riding enthusiasts to try to be cars in traffic.

          Here, we have bike lanes the bike riding enthusiasts cried for and millions of tax payer dollars were spent to put them in as a result of the bike riding enthusiasts lobbying for them. In all these years, despite having a lot of bike riding enthusiasts around here in their tight fitting bike riding garb and helmets and seeing them out every day rain or shine cold or hot, I have never seen one use the bike lanes and they all ride traffic thinking they too are real cars.

          When one of them gets hit by a car the slightest bit, what is a minor fender bender slight ‘push’ bump, they go flying off their bike and get injured then complain any injuries are because the other guy did not obey the law and thus are responsible for their injuries but ignore their injuries would probably not have happened if they had a real car wrapped around them instead of their imaginary car they call a bike.

          Sure, maybe the traffic laws are like that, but is common sense and self-preservation not a thing in the bike riding enthusiasts community?

        • Notice the bike trails typically go from nowhere to nowhere (as the typical prog)? IE useless.

        • No bike lanes here, its riding with the cages.
          Also no bicycle garb, blue Jean cutoffs and a tshirt seems to be the style.

    • I celebrate just being alive, since my ass ought to be dead back in late 2018… 🙂

      • Last Tuesday I was rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be a cratered ulcer that got to my aorta. Almost bled out. Didn’t feel sick just dizzy everytime I stood up so decided to stay home from work. Got up one time and passed out in the bathroom letting loose with blood everywhere. Sorry TMI. Emergency room nurses and doctors said I had the lowest level of blood in someone they ever saw that wasn’t dead. I’m truly glad you survived Geoff and know exactly where you are coming from! God Bless this Country and Happy Independence Day everyone.

  6. Happy 4th everyone.

    Will be making some 50AE DEagle fruit salad (20 yard style) this afternoon. It’s a 4th tradition. 😄

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