The anti-gunners have been far more outspoken in their crusade, lately, saying not just that we need more restrictions on guns, but even haranguing the NRA, blaming it for all that ails this country in terms of criminals using guns in the commission of felonies.
But Geoffrey Norman has stood up for law-abiding gun owners and tried to teach the naysayers a lesson about the value guns have played in U.S. history. In a recent article in “The American Spectator,” he details the importance of firearms and individual ownership of such guns, in the Battle of Saratoga, a decisive victory for the American Colonists against the British.
Saratoga, as Norman points out, was a campaign series of battles, and not all were great successes, as the colonists were militiamen who were better with rifle hunting than the stand-shoot-march formations of the British. The long rifles the American militiamen were armed with had grooves cut into the barrels, allowing the musket ball to spin when fired, lending to greater shot accuracy to 250 yards. The British Redcoats carried smoothbore muskets, accurate and effective to only about 50 yards.
“So the Redcoats would advance, on-line and shoulder-to-shoulder, until they were within range, then fire a volley before advancing, again, to finish things with the bayonet,” explains Norman. This tactic worked in Europe but not on the battlefields of America, still wild and untamed to the more guerrilla tactics of the Colonists.
American craftsmanship was on full display during each battle. “Those American long rifles were made by individual gunsmiths and the stocks—usually made of curly maple—were unique and personal in character. The makers of these ‘Pennsylvania long rifles’ were as proud of their work as the owners were of their marksmanship. The long rifle became an essential tool on the frontier for hunting and for defense. Frontiersmen knew how to shoot. It was a survival skill that became a kind of art and an essential element of American yeomanry,” Noman says.
This art has carried on through American history, to the proud tradition of hunting that we know today. That proud heritage can be traced back to the monument that sits on the Saratoga battlefield, where a little-known soldier allegedly fired a shot that took down a British general and his horse, ending the necessary command the British troops needed to finish the battle.
The sharpshooting tradition has carried down ever since, inspiring the likes of Alvin York, Audie Murphy, and in more recent memory, Chris Kyle. As history shows, America was made great with the help of good guns and better men.