revolutionary war
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By Larry Keane

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 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 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. Recently, more than 2.4 million Americans chose to purchase a firearm for the first time. 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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  1. This was good. But If you have not seen the series “Tales of The Gun” , you need to watch it. It was on the History Channel back in the late 1990s. I think there were 12 or 15 episodes. Its american history that was part of the 2A education and rifles teams that were taught in american high schools. Sadly the “gun community” failed to support this education in the public school system.

    Will someone please make the History Channel great again???

    • I mean, the aliens tried to make it great again. But they never found big foot or the treasure on oak island so…

      • Not only did the aliens fail, but those simpering butt-buddies on American (Nose) Pickers haven’t helped, either. Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick, just how many f*****g episodes of that goddamn show get made? The History Channel runs that frigging god-awful shit non-stop every frigging day of the frigging week!

        And if it isn’t the butt-buddies, it’s those shameless thieves and hucksters on Pawn Stars. Or somebody’s counting their goddamn cars, or screwing around a forge trying to make knives or swords.

        I loved it so much more when we could call it (with some justification) The Hitler Channel. At least we were getting history.

        • I remember those days… “All Hitler, All the time.”

          Back when channels would display the nights lineup of programs, they would have Hitlerathons:

          Upcoming programming:

          8pm-9pm: Hitlers diary.

          9pm-10pm: High Hitler.

          10pm-11pm: Hitler and the occult

          11pm-1200 Hitlers sex life.

    • Have to make a correction on the author’s “facts”:

      July 2 was when the Delegates voted on the DOI. The Delegates then returned to their homes, and the document was “engrossed” or formally written over the next two days.

      July 4 was when Hancock and Sherman (acting as notary) signed the first copy, which was sent to King George III. More copies were then created.

      August 2 was when most of the Delegates returned to apply their signatures. All signatures were eventually provided to give us the DOI we know today.

  2. we did our part up at the brill gun club near rice lake.
    went thru most of my 180gr .44mag, the deagle won’t cycle it, but we compared an old 94ae to a new brass/ octagonal henry (both 16″). the henry is slicker with way less recoil felt so much nicer at the range, less so in the field (heavy).
    one of the sons had a new hipoint in 10mm so i’ve shot that now. pretty nice for the coin and warranty.
    and now to clean a pile of dirty things.

  3. The California government told me that Covid19 is going to kill me if I celebrate our defiance of an unjust government….. Oddly enough, California said I’ll be fine if I riot in favor of Maxism.

    • It seems the LGBTQxyz crowd can march without a mask as well. Government approved speech.
      But no groups of speech against the government actions allowed. Germs can tell the difference between who is protesting, and for what.

    • watching tele back in the eighties, a much shorter duration one of these crackled across the screen. absolutely lost our minds. i was quite glad to see it archived many years later; validation. my favorite type of maxism.

  4. Plan to get our biguns out to celebrate….four Barrett M107A1s, 6 MRADs….including first outing for the MK22 with 3 caliber conversions, 5 REC7s, alas, a lone REC10….so far….fearing a terrible boating accident. Good time will be had by all….a BBBBB Day…..Barretts/Brats/Beer/Bullets/Boys…….BYOBullets Here, Antifa….Here, Antifa….Here, Antifa Time to talk freedom overwatch.

  5. Plan for tomorrow:
    1. Range time on the farm with a 1903A3, an M-1 rifle and a 1911.
    2. Ribeyes and roasting ears on the grill.
    3. Cold beer.
    4. A prayer to the Almighty. “God bless America. Amen.”

  6. A long time ago I saw a video of making a Pennsylvania Long Rifle for target shooting. A fascinating, raw materials to final shooting proof of the American gunsmith’s art in the 18th Century. Everything done from scratch. Forging the metals, choosing the wood, rifling that barrel and the tools needed for all the work. All of it made in the technology and methods of the era.

    The rifle was meant for game up to deer size, so not a large caliber. But more than that it was made for target shooting. The gunsmith made a false muzzle that set atop the end of the barrel for precision loading. So every patch was cut the same and every ball was fitted in the same orientation. Sights were not as sophisticated as some today but they were more than the simple things seen on most flintlocks of the time.

    Target’s were rough-hewn pine planks with a mark at the enter. The gun made good groups at 75 yards, and was quite the beauty to look at.

    The memory predates the internet, must have been on PBS.

    • enuf,

      I would love to see that.

      As I mentioned below, this has inspired me to break out my muzzleloader tomorrow and put some lead downrange.

      Happy Fourth of July!

  7. Original American made muskets were anything but “light.” Most were not “based on” European designs, they were built by the craftsman from Germany and elsewhere who emigrated here. Each was an individual work of art. There is/was a guy in Williamsburg who made rifles from scratch, the entire rifle, lock, stock, and barrel. And screws too. Watched the film. Absolutely amazing what he could do. His rifles sell for north of $20,000. Usual weight is in the 10-11 lib range. A lot of American arms were English imported Brown Bess trade gun muskets in .69 or .75 caliber.

    • Well, the NSSF’s article did mention George Washington’s troops joining townsfolk in ripping down a statue of King George and melting it down for musket balls, that much is true…

      I really hope you aren’t ignorant of the difference between that moment and this one.

      • I noted it and think we are foolish to discount it. The other side has declared war on us with those acts, much as Osama bin Laden did with his first fatwa, and we are ignoring it, just as we did then.

        • Spot on. The message behind the act is the same now as it was then — the difference lies in who is doing it and what they want to replace those symbols with.

      • One group had just had their elected government disbanded and put under martial law; one group has simply found a new excuse to destroy things they already hated in the name of a man who died unjustly.
        The new group is not much worse ideologically than when uneducated POTG (or trolls) say ‘revolt!’ in response to a tax passed by their rep/senator’s vote.

    • That was Colonial Era Recycling not a riot 😂
      At least they knew what they were tearing down and the history that led to the moment. These “woke” idiots haven’t a clue.

  8. it is illegal to discharge a firearm in this place. But we can shoot fireworks. go figure. Reason high density over head air traffic.

      • Sshhhh. I did. Range has been closed and I haven’t been able to test fire my last AR build. It worked fine and the Siberian Elm in my yard is still growing away, but with about 30 7.62 diam holes.😋
        Nobody noticed. The sad part is we’re under a countywide fireworks ban and you couldn’t tell from all the illegal stuff going off.

  9. Okay, I wasn’t planning on it but now I am inspired to dust off my .50 caliber muzzleloader and send some lead downrange tomorrow to celebrate July 4th.

    I suppose I should break out my “cannon” (a piece of 2-inch steel round stock with a 1/2 inch — .50 caliber — hole in the middle of it) and light that off as well in celebration.

  10. As far as I can tell, these days and throughout history most people in the US (and most of the rest of the world) fall into three camps:

    1. People who work or otherwise have an income from investments, pensions, etc, that they worked for earlier in their life. They pay taxes and generally have a “fat dumb and happy” life. What they most want is to be left alone to enjoy the life they have.

    2. People who don’t work but have an income from trust funds (or an equivalent), family, collage loans or welfare, etc. They may or may not pay taxes and generally have a “fat dumb and happy” life. What they most want is to be left alone to enjoy the life they have.

    3. People with “fire in the belly.” There is something they want. Often they have a “fat dumb and happy” life but there is something more that they want. What they want could be anything from attention and admiration by their friends, Youtube views, a big-screen TV or sneakers they don’t have to pay for, “the destruction of racist capitalism” or Liberty from the British crown.

    Right now, it seems like the people in category 3 are mostly made up of people who, most of the time, are in category 2. As gun owners, we generally tend to fall into category 1. If we want anything it is to preserve the liberty, freedom and inalienable rights we currently have. Right now, however, the vast majority of those in category 3 want rather the opposite.

    This category 3 heavy in people who should be in category 2 isn’t always true. It tends that way simply because the people in category 2 have far more leisure time to indulge the demands of their belly. However, the need for Liberty spread like fire through the farmers, merchants and craftsmen of 1775 – 1776; “the shot heard round the world” came from a musket held by a man who was at his plow or workbench two hours before.

    Simple enough equation: we need more people who actively want what we want. For some reason the need for Liberty will burn hottest in the belly of those in category 1. To quote Sam Adams, “Our job, gentlemen, it to make liberty more important than time at the plow.”

  11. Those of us in Texas should know that the storied history of the Alamo is being undermined by the very people our state government has empowered to preserve it. Virtually the entire local government in San Antonio is militantly progressive-fascist and agrees fully with BLM dogma that the whole of American history should be recast as a history of European dominance and colonial exploitation of subject peoples. They are currently happily removing every historic monument celebrating our history. (The Alamo as an ultimate expression of that exploitative Eurocentric hegemony, is an obvious next target ).

    And if that isn’t bad enough, at the state level, Land Commissioner George P. Bush appears committed to being “inclusive” which basically means he wants to work with progressives who are bent on removing every statue and symbol of American history they can find and sundry groups of “indigenous” people who want the Alamo grounds turned into graveyard. My point is this: All of the players in this attempt to “re-imagine the Alamo” agree that the Alamo as a symbol of freedom and liberty has to be changed to something else. Happy 4th everyone. There are forces at play that would be very happy is this was the last one we celebrate. Ever.

    • kind of liked that movie they made awhile back…the one where the Mexicans occupied the Alamo…and were besieged by the Texans….

    • when the pissing contest draws to a close after sunset, the half stick will rule them all.
      4000black cat roll (china’s gonna need to change that name) will be a leadup.

  12. For muzzleloaders made the Olde Fashioned Way- Look up Frank and Herschel House. Those guys make heirlooms.


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