Wimmer -- a former cop and life member of the NRA -- told TPM in a phone interview Tuesday that he plans to introduce the legislation in January, when the Legislature is back in session. The gun, designed by Utah-born John Moses Browning, has been used in every war since WWI, and is still used today, Wimmer said. It's the gun's "staying power," he said, that makes it a treasure.
"It is not only of historical value for the state of Utah, but it is of historical value for the United States of America," Wimmer said. "This firearm has literally saved countless lives, it has defended freedom and liberty across the globe and, as Utahans, we should be proud of that."
Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune that other states have designated official state firearms, but neither he nor the NRA could confirm that to TPM.
He has received some backlash from anti-gun groups, who say he's trying to "glorify an implementation of death." Others claim Wimmer -- who told TPM he's preparing to campaign for Congress in 2012 -- is using this bill as a publicity stunt. He rejects both claims.
"I'm glorifying an instrument of freedom and liberty," he said. "I had this idea more than a year ago."