Utah makes Browning M1911 pistol official state gun-USA
Utah to adopt Browning M1911 pistol as first ever state gun
Utah is on the verge of becoming the first US state to select an official gun, to honour the memory of Joseph Browning, the inventor of the M1911 pistol.
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert with a Browning pistol that was presented to him by Chris Browning (right) during a celebration of John M. Browning Day in Salt Lake City, Utah Photo: AP
12:45PM GMT 26 Jan 2011
The bill to make the Browning M1911 the official state gun breezed through a committee hearing this week and is scheduled to be debated by Utah's House of Representatives as early as Wednesday.
Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer told the committee that the state should have the gun as one of its state symbols to honour John Browning, a Utah native who invented it in 1911.
"He invented a firearm that has defended American values and the traditions of this country for 100 years," Mr Wimmer said.
Utah has 24 state symbols recognising the history, geography and culture of the state. They include a state cooking pot, a state tree, a state hymn and a state folk dance.
The House Political Subdivisions Committee approved the bill to add a state gun on a 9-2 vote.
Mr Wimmer said the Browning M1911 is widely used by the military, police officers and private citizens, which is why he chose the pistol instead of another Browning gun.
Gun Violence Prevention Center board member Steve Gunn said that honouring the M1911 is wrong because the people who opened fire in most recent US mass shootings used semi-automatic pistols. That includes the Arizona, shooting in which six people were killed and 13 – including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – were wounded with a Glock pistol.
"It's an embarrassment to the state to have as a symbol that was used only a few weeks ago to kill innocent people," Gunn said.
David Litvak, the House minority leader, said while he opposes designating a state gun, the Arizona shooting did not give the debate any urgency.
"We need to be careful about using that tragedy to push a political position," the Democrat said.
He suggested the state honour Browning in a different way that focused on his many inventions, not just one of his guns.