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Happy Firearms Appreciation Day

Stand Your Ground
Most Americans, if they think about the reasons we have a Fourth of July holiday at all, think of it as “Independence Day,” commemorating the publication of the Declaration of Independence. However, we here at CHQ also like to think of July 4th as “Firearms Appreciation Day’” because without firearms, and the American prowess with them, there would be no independence to celebrate.

It is easy to forget while munching on a hot dog and quaffing a beer that the very first battles of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord were fought over the possession of guns and ammunition.

A year after the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773) the British Parliament passed the Coercive Acts. These acts ordered a ban on the import of firearms into the colonies, as well as systematic confiscation of arms and gunpowder, and if necessary using violence to forcibly remove guns from the hands of colonists.

As Joel Bohy and Don Troiani wrote for The American Rifleman:

During the late night hours of April 18, 1775, British grenadier and light infantry companies under the command of Lt. Col. Francis Smith, numbering some 700 men, ferried across the Charles River from Boston to Cambridge to clandestinely march on the small town of Concord, Mass., a colonial supply depot for arms, cannon, powder, ball and other military supplies.

In the months previous, Gen. Thomas Gage, the British military governor of Boston, had been receiving word from spies of the numerous arms being stored in and around the town. The countryside surrounding the city of Boston was busily arming and training in the art of war, and something needed to be done to quell this potential uprising.

The problem for the British was, as Brig. Gen. Lord Hugh Percy commented, “What makes an insurrection here always more formidable than in other places is that there is a law of this province which obligates every inhabitant to be furnished with a firelock, bayonet, and pretty considerable quantity of ammunition.”

And Lord Hugh was right: Each man was required by law to provide himself with a good firearm, with a steel or iron ramrod, a worm, a vent pick and brush, a bayonet fitted to his gun, a scabbard, a belt, a sword, tomahawk or hatchet, a cartridge box holding a minimum of 15 rounds, 100 buckshot, six flints, one pound of powder, 40 lead balls, a knapsack and a blanket, and a canteen to hold a quart of water.

Some of these arms and supplies were provided by the towns from whence the minute or militia companies were raised, but most were provided by the men themselves.

On September 1, 1774, 260 of General Thomas Gage’s soldiers sailed up the Mystic River and seized hundreds of barrels of powder from the Charlestown powder house. This came to be known as the “Powder Alarm.” In response, American revolutionaries declared that any attempt by the British to violently confiscate firearms from the colonists would be interpreted as an act of war.

(Are you reading Rep. Swalwell?)

And as the #2A advocates at remind us, that’s exactly what happened on April 19, 1775.

At dawn on April 19, 1775, over 700 Redcoats marched from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize arms. They were met by a militia of more than 200 patriots, ages 16 to 60–all of them carrying their own guns with few exceptions. Outnumbered, the militia at Lexington suffered major casualties and fell easily to the British army. The British were less fortunate, however, at Concord. After unsuccessfully searching the town for munitions, the British began their march back toward Boston–where on Concord’s North Bridge, a massive town militia had gathered to drive them off. After only three minutes of gunfire, the Redcoats retreated.

As the British pulled back out of Concord, they proceeded through Meriam’s Corner and filed across a small bridge over Elm Brook. At this funnel the Colonials, with reinforcements from other towns, took aim and fired, killing more of the British regulars.

By the time the British reached Charlestown, and boats back to the safety of Boston, they had lost 73 killed, 174 wounded and 26 missing, while the American Patriots had lost 49, 41 and five, respectively.

A little over a year later, on July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was ratified and announced, its reasons summed up well by Patriot Capt. Levi Preston, a participant in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, during an interview given later in his life: “What we meant in going for those redcoats was this: We always had been free and we meant to be free always! They didn’t mean that we should.”

The war that turned the Declaration of Independence into a reality was, as Joel Bohy and Don Troiani put in The American Rifleman, a remarkable triumph for the Patriots that would have been inconceivable had not every man been armed with his own gun.

CHQ Editor George Rasley is a certified rifle and pistol instructor, a Glock ® certified pistol armorer and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

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