Utah Legislature Approves Official State Gun Despite Controversy

ZUMA Press/Newscom

Utah is poised to be the first state to designate an official state gun.

The state senate on Thursday voted 20-7 to recommend the Browning M1911 pistol as its official state gun.

State Rep. Carl Wimmer (R) — the bill’s chief sponsor — told TPM in December that he considers the Browning pistol “an instrument of freedom and democracy.”State Sen. Chris Buttars (R) echoed Wimmer’s sentiment:

“Weapons or guns especially are so demonized by certain elements of our society that I think this adds a real balance,” Buttars said, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. “Weapons in the right hands have probably preserved freedom time and time and time again.”

But Democrats in the Senate aren’t convinced the state needs an official gun.

“I don’t think it does send the right message to other states,” Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero (D) said.

Utah-born John Moses Browning designed the pistol, which Wimmer says has been used in every war since WWI.

“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 told TPM in December. “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.”

The Utah Senate added language to acknowledge that the Legislature does not condone acts of violence, and guns in the hands of the wrong people are dangerous, according to the Salt Lake Tribune report.

The House approved the amended language this morning, Wimmer told TPM this afternoon.

Wimmer said he finds the national attention on the bill surprising. “(The bill) is really not significant,” he said. He did say the timing was brought into question, after the mass shooting in Tucson. But he stands by the bill.

“You cannot equate the actions of a homicidal madman with the actions of the military, who have used this firearm to defend freedom and to defend our nation around the world,” Wimmer said. “And that is what we’re honoring.”

Utah’s official state guns joins the ranks of a laundry list of state-designated items: Utah’s state cooking pot is the Dutch oven; its state fossil is the Allosaurus; and its state rock is coal.