By Nelson Freeman
Once in a while, politicians really do do the right thing, and we should tip our hats to the Arkansas State Legislature for giving the mighty shotgun its rightful honor. This past April, with the passage of Senate Bill 6, introduced by Sen. Trent Garner, Arkansas designated the shotgun as its official state firearm in Act 685.
Many non-hunters might not appreciate the shotgun’s impact on Arkansas. Foremost is the economic benefit that shotguns have brought through waterfowl hunting. Hunting overall represents more than $1 billion in economic impact to the state annually and, with so many out-of-state waterfowlers traveling there each year, the shotgun is largely responsible for that. In addition, hunting-license sales and Pittman-Robertson funds (excise taxes on firearms and ammunition) have accounted for $600 million since those programs began. Roundaboutly, shotguns and hunting have been responsible for preserving almost 3 million acres for all wildlife through well-managed waterfowl operations.
Arkansas is the first state to honor an entire class of firearms, but eight other states have recognized specific guns as their state firearms, including Kentucky (Kentucky Long Rifle), Pennsylvania (long rifle), Alaska (pre-’64 Winchester Model 70), Arizona (Colt Single Action Army Revolver), Indiana (Grouseland Rifle), Tennessee (Barrett M82), Utah (M1911) and West Virginia (Hall Rifle).
State legislatures have amazing powers to promote and protect our hunting heritage. From the recognition of firearms to enshrining the right to hunt and fish in state constitutions, elected officials can be wonderful advocates for our sport.