Utah may get an official state firearm

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January 28, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Representative Carl Wimmer thinks Utah ought to have an official state gun. His House colleagues agreed, and now the Senate is considering making a provocative statement with the usually whimsical business of designating state symbols.

The firearm Wimmer has in mind is the Browning 1911 pistol, certainly a classic of the American West but also the creation of one of Utah's native sons. John Moses Browning was born in Ogden in 1855, the son of Mormon pioneers, and his company is still headquartered in Mountain Green, Utah. Wimmers summed up his case for honoring Browning on the legislative floor; “He invented a firearm that has defended American values and the traditions of this country for 100 years.”[1]

Representative Jennifer Seelig, who leads the Minority Caucus, admits the pistol, first developed at the end of the nineteenth century for military use, has saved lives. But the Salt Lake City Democrat said the gun has also taken lives and expressed concerns that Utah could become a “poster child” state.[2]

Browning's Colt M1911 Automatic Pistol was the official issues sidearm for the U.S. Military from 1911 until 1985, and is still in wide use among American armed force. It saw widespread use on both World Wars, Vietnam, and Korea and, with some two million made, is widely popular among citizens, proving a popular concealed carry piece.

HB 219, which sailed out of the Political Subdivisions Committee on a 9-2 vote and passed the House 51-19 with four abstentions, would add the Browning 1911 to a growing list of officially honored state symbols. Already Utah has a song, a hymn, and a folk dance, a gaggle of preferred stars and constellations, and a state cooking pot – the Dutch Oven. Neighboring Colorado boasts an unofficially designated state soil, New Mexico has honored the anise flavored bizcochito as an official cookie, and Arizona has elevated the bolo tie to the status of official neckwear - but no state has a gun just yet.