Fourth of July Celebrates America's Firearm Heritage

Independence Day perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Fourth of July Celebrates America's Firearm Heritage

Continental soldiers firing rifles during American Revolutionary War re-enactment in New York. (Shutterstock image)

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.

GunVote2020
NSSF graphic

#GUNVOTE 2020: Help Drive Voter Registration

2020 is a critical election year for our industry and could very well determine the future of our Second Amendment rights. It is crucial that all segments of our industry help inform employees and customers on the importance of registering to vote. NSSF is urging all businesses in our industry to download and display NSSF's #GUNVOTE icon on your company's website and also to incorporate #GUNVOTE messages into social media campaigns. Download everything you need here, and then link to gunvote.org, where visitors can find voter registration information in their states and other helpful resources.

National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

How to Rig a Fishing Kayak

How to Rig a Fishing Kayak

Outfit your 'yak for summertime angling in 6 easy steps.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Patterned after Humminbird's LakeMaster charts for freshwater anglers, CoastMaster charts bring the same features for salt anglers. CoastMaster delivers unrivaled nearshore and offshore fishing performance.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch these popular fish in a suddenly flooded environment? Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish in High Water

Game & Fish Staff

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch...

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21. Baits & Lures

New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series

Game & Fish Staff - July 13, 2020

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation & Politics

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Conservation & Politics

NSSF: Diversity in Gun Ownership Not New to Firearm Industry

Larry Keane - July 17, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Conservation & Politics

NSSF: Gun-Control Grabs Taxpayer Protection Funds for Anti-Gun Candidates

Larry Keane - July 27, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Conservation & Politics

NSSF Survey: Broad Demographic Appeal for Firearms Purchases

Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director of Research and Market Development - July 22, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Last year alone, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act was responsible for $100 million in funding to benefit game, fish and other wildlife in the United States. Conservation & Politics

At Issue: Greenbacks for Greenheads (and Other Game)

Andrew McKean - August 04, 2020

Last year alone, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act was responsible for $100 million...

See More Conservation & Politics

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now