Friday, January 28, 2011

Utah May Designate A State Gun

Wow.  Did you hear about this?  Having apparently run out of peaceful things to designate as symbols of their state, Utah is now moving through a piece of legislation to designate a state gun:  the Browning M1911 .45 semi-automatic handgun.  It's a powerful handgun that has been around since 1911 in various civilian and military forms and currently is popular for conceal carry.  The inventor, John Moses Browning, is a favorite son of Utah.  There's even a museum in his honor in the train station in Ogden, Utah.  I've been to the museum.  Yep, lots of guns there.

The state bill (H.B. 219) was introduced by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman — a former police officer, a life member of the National Rifle Association and an instructor for concealed weapons classes (source).  It's just a guess, but I'm thinking that Rep. Wimmer and I wouldn't see eye-to-eye about the message he's trying to send.

From a related article from New York Times:  "On Monday, the Utah State Capitol celebrated Browning Day, honoring John Moses Browning, native son and maker of the nominee for Official State Firearm. There were speeches, a proclamation, a flyover by a National Guard helicopter, and, of course, a rotunda full of guns."

Eeesh. Talk about our gun culture run amuck!  This isn't about honoring John Moses Browning or some other inventor -- that is only about the model to use for the symbol. The bigger problem here is that they are choosing a gun as a symbol of their state, like they did a bird (California seagull) or song ("Utah, This Is the Place") or even cooking pot (Dutch oven).  This is nothing more than glorification of our culture of guns and violence and a statement of that state's overwhelmingly ultra-conservative leanings.
What makes this particularly disgusting to me is that it comes on the heels of a particularly traumatic event in the national psyche -- the shooting in Tucson -- and the national debate about ways to decrease gun violence.   While national legislators are fighting hard to even get a committee hearing for bills that help prevent psychos from passing background checks by strengthening mental and criminal reporting, or to prevent further sale of extended ammo clips intended for doling out large-scale death, this bit of Utah legislation is expected to sail through the state process.

Some may see the designation of a state gun as some sort of patriotic symbol, but it only highlights the problems we face with crime and easy access to guns.  Birds honor a natural characteristic of a state.  A song honors a portion of the state's cultural history or quality. A state pot.... well, I don't know what they were thinking!  But a gun?  Even if they had decided on a hunting rifle it would have been less harsh.  This model of handgun, though often used for target shooting, was invented for only one purpose: the killing of humans.  Why doesn't the state designate a hangman's noose? An AK-47?  Or a bayonet?  These all "deal out justice" too. I see little difference for the message here, but it gives a very negative impression of Utah's values. 

If you live in Utah, I strongly urge you to contact your state representative and ask them oppose this disgusting show of glorifying violence. 

UPDATE (3/21/11):  The Utah Governor just signed the bill.  Utah is officially the first state to honor a device of death as a state symbol:



  1. Yes indeed, the hangman's noose played a big role in their history.

    Gun culture run amok, I agree.

  2. Only someone with a personal bias AGAINST guns would have a problem with this.

    You state so much personal opinion that comes across as fact, when it simply isn't true:

    "This model of handgun, though often used for target shooting, was invented for only one purpose: the killing of humans."

    Source of this one and only purpose, please?

    To say an object has a purpose means that the object is used BY A PERSON to accomplish a goal. An object cannot have a purpose by itself, it needs a PERSON with a goal to accomplish.

    Sure, that person may have the goal of killing someone, then in THAT instance, you would be correct. What if the person's goal is target shooting? What if that person's goal is simply collecting the firearm?

    To suggest that something only has one purpose is to suggest it cannot be used for any other, which is obviously not true, and the facts are there easy to prove. How is it that there are thousands and thousands (millions? I don't know) of 1911 handguns in this country, yet most of them are NOT used for the purpose of killing? If they're not being used to kill, are they being mis-used? Are the owners not following the instruction manual?

    The statement that the purpose of ANY gun is "only to kill" is simply not true. You can state your displeasure at a state picking a "state gun" if you want, but I doubt you're going to have any effect on it (and I sincerely hope you and the rest of your anti-gun bias minority don't).


  3. I did contact my representatives... and thanked them. John Moses Browning is the epitome of the American Dream. He is from Ogden, UT, designed a firearm used to keep our military safe from our enemies, and did it so well it's THE handgun to get, more than a hundred years later if you are a gun enthusiast.

    You see guns as objects of violence. We see guns as objects of protection against that which we cannot control. We see guns as tools to calm ourselves by sitting out in the desert for a few hours shooting rocks, tin cans, and even rabbits (they sure are tasty!) Just because you don't like it, don't bash those that do. It's not a culture of violence, it's a culture that just isn't yours.

  4. No doubt they picked that gun because It's the 100th anniversary of the 1911 and John Moses Browning was arguably the best firearms designer to ever walk the planet.

    "This model of handgun, though often used for target shooting, was invented for only one purpose: the killing of humans."

    Not really. This will surprise the non gun folks, but pistols are considered defensive not offensive weapons.

    Think about it. If you *know* you are going to be in a gun fight, why not bring a shotgun, a rifle or some other "stand off" weapon? A pistol is a low power, very close range, weapon which implies than the "other guy" is close to you too. Never a desirable situation in a battle. Pistols are "designed" as the last line of defense when the bad guys are at arms length. To the extent they are used to commit crimes, that is a perversion of their design, and certainly not what John Browning had in mind when he designed the 1911.

    No doubt that every GI that ever used a 1911 would have rather not, for the reasons I mentioned above, but they are alive because Browning was a master designer.

    I'm still mystified why the anti-gun people only see the evil purposes for this tool, seemingly to the exclusions of so many others, and never seem to acknowledge the positive aspects.

    A state gun doesn't celebrate killing, it celebrates a native son on the 100th anniversary of one of his greatest designs.

  5. I love the revisionist history you guys come up with. Browning invented the M1911 with one purpose in mind: creating a handgun for the U.S. Army which would shoot and kill an attacker. Sure, it can be used for self-defense, but a military officer using it at any point in the past isn't shooting to wound or to scare -- they shoot to kill. Thus, Browning invented the device to kill humans, as I said in the post. All other uses (sport shooting, plinking at cans, showing it off to relatives, whatever) are secondary to the original concept. Please don't pretend it to be anything else. If you need a source for that info, Orygunner, here you go:

    You guys go off on such tangents! Was he a great inventor of guns? Certainly so. And certainly not all of the guns out there are used for crimes. I never claimed otherwise. But to celebrate an item made for killing, as a symbol of a state, is disgraceful, no matter how honorable the man who invented it or how reliable or long-lasting the weapon. If the purpose were to honor a "son of Utah", surely there are other "sons" who have invented great things which could be honored with a state symbol, without glorifying weapons.

  6. Baldr,

    Your perception keeps you from seeing a simple truth.

    The 1911 has saved thousands -- probably hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Yes, it is an implement designed for use in combat.

    But the soldiers, sailors, marines and airman have used to save their lives and those with them.

    Likewise, the 1911 has saved hundreds, thousands of civilian lives by those who used it to protect.

    Your bias is alarming. You do not seem to differentiate between violent/predatory and violent/protectionary.

    This post is a great example of it. No mention of the lives saved, the rapes prevented, the homes protected.

    The gun control prospective of "all gun violence is bad" is contrary to many of us. And because you seldom differentiate, your proposals often do more harm to the non-criminals.

    without glorifying weapons.

    Why should we not glorify weapons?
    Weapons feed our families, Weapons protect the innocent.

  7. Actually, Bob, I acknowledge that this model of firearm has saved lives and been used for self-defense, etc. I have no doubt that thousands of people have used it that way and are alive because of it.

    But that doesn't justify putting it on a pedestal, when it has also been used for great evil. No one has numbers either way, but I haven't any doubt that at least as many people have been killed by criminals with it.

    But you're right in one regard, Bob: even if it had never once been used for crime, and only had ever been used for self-defense, I still argue it isn't appropriate to use as a symbol of a state. Why would a state want to use a deadly weapon of any sort as a symbol of its values, even if used only to kill bad guys? As I said before, it's analagous to using a hangman's noose or an electric chair, in that way, none of which I think reflect the values of Utahns.

  8. (Orygunner, I deleted your comment. Other than adding a link to your blog, you had nothing additional to add, and I'm not going to simply promote your blog from here.)

  9. "As I said before, it's analagous to using a hangman's noose or an electric chair, in that way, none of which I think reflect the values of Utahns."

    We used to use a firing squad rather than an electric chair.

    "Sure, it can be used for self-defense, but a military officer using it at any point in the past isn't shooting to wound or to scare -- they shoot to kill."

    Of course it is used to kill, in both combat and self-defense. Anyone who thinks you can shoot to wound or scare has no idea what they are talking about. When you shoot, you shoot to stop the attacker; the most effective way is to shoot to kill. If you try anything else you are asking for trouble. I've seen people ignore painful and semi-crippling injuries and still attack; you have to stop them, not just hurt them.
    Time for a reality check, kid.

  10. Nothing additional to add? I actually had typed that originally as a comment to your blog post, then decided to repost it as my own blog entry.

    Here is the basic point I was trying to make: It is merely your opinion that the 1911 was designed mainly or solely for the purpose of killing. There are SOME guns that were designed for the sole purpose of killing (such as the Liberator pistol of WWII) but even the link you provided about the history of the 1911 doesn't support your suggestion that the primary or sole purpose, by original design or use today, of the 1911 pistol is killing human beings. The word "Kill" in any form doesn't even appear on the page.


  11. Baldr:
    As I said before, it's analagous to using a hangman's noose or an electric chair . . .

    Interesting--so you make no distinction between killing in self-defense or in combat, and execution of an already imprisoned inmate/already vanquished enemy?

    I'm not a real activist against capital punishment, and actually think it might have its place (very) occasionally, but I still think it's much more difficult to justify than self-defense.

  12. Um, right, Bob, that's what I said. We're in agreement about the killing power of this gun. Again, that's why I think it's inappropriate as a symbol of a state.

  13. Orygunner: okay, maybe the word "kill" doesn't appear, but it seems obvious to me. There's no other reason someone would use it in battle, as originally conceived for its purpose.

  14. @Baldr Odinson The link you gave to the 1911 isn't helping your case.

    The reason they wanted the 1911 in .45 over the old .38 is found in the first sentence on the website you linked.

    "The pistol was designed to comply with the requirements of the U.S. Army, which, during its campaign against the Moros in Philippines, had seen its trusty .38 revolver to be incapable of stopping attackers. "

    When someone is attacking you are the DEFENDER. That's the way it is by definition.

    In the military, you attack with a rife, you defend with a rifle, and use the pistol as a last resort when they are "inside the wire".

    Stopping an attacker (as a last resort) is what we use pistols for today. Not to kill, but to STOP an attacker and part of the reason people still like the .45 is the same as back then. The Moros were stoned out of their gourds on drugs when they attacked. Not unlike the typical mugger of today. They were so high they quite literally didn't notice they had been shot by the .38 and just kept coming. Not a good thing. The .45 solved that problem. It actually 'stopped' them.

  15. 18Echo: What exactly do you think they mean by "stopping power"? Let's not act naive. When they refer to "stopping" the enemy, they aren't talking about wounding or scaring. They mean killing. That's the point I made, and that's why that gun, or practically any gun, is not appropriate as a symbol of a state.

  16. Here's an interesting comment left by a Utahn (identifying himself as "Bryce the Mormon"), on a article on this subject (page:

    "I live in Utah and a Mormon and think having a state recognize a gun as the "state gun" is utter nonsense. There is as much need to have a state pepper spray, state knife, or state taser as there is for a state gun. I hope you see my sarcasm. Whoever is wasting their time in the legislator to recognize a state gun needs to get out of politics or find something more valuable to spend my tax dollars on."

  17. Considering that weapons give strength to the weak and a voice to the silent and voiceless, I think that celebrating them and those who design them is not only justifiable but downright commendable. I'm sorry you don't feel that way, but all this handwringing is downright embarrassing to watch.

  18. Pistolero, when you say weapons give strength to the weak, remember that it goes both ways. Yes, people can defend themselves, but criminals are also better enabled to commit crimes.

    As for a "voice to the silent and voiceless", what the heck are you talking about? Are you suggesting that by arming yourself people will listen to you? I don't agree with that at all, unless you're the criminal and it's a holdup. Just because someone owns a gun does not make me respect them any more than someone who doesn't.

  19. @Baldr Odinson "Yes, people can defend themselves, but criminals are also better enabled to commit crimes." The criminals were going to commit crimes regardless. That's what makes them criminals.

    So the weak have a chance to end up on equal footing with the criminal. Not a guarantee but a chance.

    That is about as good as you can hope for. A criminal that is willing to attack the weak has already committed to imposing his will, using violence if necessary.

    This is borrowed, altered and paraphrased from a piece called "The Gun Is Civilization" You should google it and read it to understand where we come from.

    Let's say for a second that your side wins and there are no guns except in the hands of the police. Criminals do not have them. Old ladys do not have them.. They are gone.

    What solution to you have that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats?

    What do you purpose to remove the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender?

    In one of your other posts you asked what the gun folks purpose to combat gun violence. Let me turn that around and ask what do you purpose to keep the weak and infirm safe against the violent, in place of a firearm?

    Thousands of years of human history shows that violence against the weak will always be with us. Ghandi like passive resistance may win a revolution, but it will get an individual killed on a regular basis.

  20. 18Echo, you don't seem to get it, despite all the times I've said it: I am not an advocate of banning all guns for all people, nor is the gun control movement. Your paranoia about having all guns banned is an extension of the pro-gun lobby's extremist propaganda.

  21. Baldr,

    How many times did the gun control advocates say the Complete and Total firearm bans in Chicago and Washington D.C. were reasonable?

    Sorry if we don't conveniently forget the history of gun bans.

    Sorry if we still see people calling for banning all firearms from civilian hands.

    Sorry if we see what happened in England where more and more reasonable restrictions were implemented.

    You can't name a single firearm related law on the books that you would support repealing.

    What hope should we hold out that you won't keep asking for more and more restrictive laws?

  22. Yes, Bob, as you've reminded us before. But obviously that is no longer an option due to the recent Supreme Court ruling. Thus, total gun bans are no longer proposed or possible (unless the second amendment is re-written, which no one is proposing), unlike England. So stop dwelling on that. But more sensible regulation certainly is possible, and, dare I say, *likely*, including banning particular types of guns or accessories.

  23. Baldr,

    Stop dwelling on something that people like you are still hoping for? Something that is only a change in the Supreme Court away?

    Naw, I think I'll keep dwelling on it. I'll keep reminding you of your past.
    I'll keep it in mind when people like you say we can trust that you only want 'reasonable' regulations.

    You did call the complete and total bans reasonable didn't you?

    If you considered Washington D.C. reasonable; what does that say about your current proposals?

    Background checks on all sales --
    Criminals won't do it but it will add cost & hassle to the process.
    Can you deny that some law abiding citizens will be prevented from obtaining firearms?

    Registration -
    Canada didn't have much success.
    Can you point to a state with registration where that process has reduced the crime rate?

    I doubt it. You do agree that the registration process -- with the cost, hassle and time sink, has kept law abiding people from obtaining firearms, right?

    Magazine capacity limits
    The Virginia Tech shooter used smaller magazine and killed more.
    The Beltway Sniper never needed a 30 round magazine and they killed plenty.

    On the other hand, people enjoying sports and casual shooting will have their activities impacted.
    Can you show evidence a magazine capacity limit lowered crime?

    Sorry but the history of reasonable laws, even discounting bans, haven't shown any reduction in crime.

  24. It is our gun culture which liberated us from Britain and protects us now, allowing you a very robust freedom of speech you exercise here on your blog.

    I find your post rather amusingly contradictory. If it were not for our gun culture, quite very possibly you wouldn't be able to post your own independent thoughts or even have a forum to do so at all.

  25. That's a fascinating fantasy, DM, and is often said. It is true that long guns helped get our liberty from England in the late 1700's, but 230 years later, our gun culture is nothing at all like the "gun culture" of that time, and our gun practices and rights are now far removed from the democracies of other modern countries which also enjoy freedom of speech as part of their constitutions. In other words, they don't need tens of millions of guns in the hands of anyone to enjoy freedom of speech, and neither do we. In any case, the M1911 was not part of the "gun culture" of the 1700's.

  26. And the internet wasn't part of freedom of speech in the 1700s either. Your point?

    Also, if you're so upset with a state representing themselves with something designed to kill, what are your feelings on the eagle clutching arrows in its talons?

  27. And computers weren't part of the literature that later became part of the Federalist Papers.

    Are computers then not covered by the 1st amendment?

  28. Wait a minute, Bob S. As one who so quickly calls others "liars," how can you make the following statement?

    "How many times did the gun control advocates say the Complete and Total firearm bans in Chicago and Washington D.C. were reasonable?"

    You even capitalized "Complete and Total," but I'm afraid that falls short of the pure truth you demand of others.

  29. Baldr,

    Utah spending its time and resources recognizing an object (and man) of some historical significance has NOTHING to do with reducing gun violence.

    What if California had designated a state fighter jet? Those can be used to "kill", given obvious military applications. We can argue if such ceremonies are worthy of public resources, but that wasn't your objection.

    You've admitted that your objection is with "gun culture", and your cause may have lost credibility with this post.

  30. Sean, I objected to the symbolism of a gun as a symbol of a state, and made no connection to it as a method of increasing gun violence. But since you bring it up, I'd say that glorifying any weapon adds to the popularity of that weapon and others of that type, more popularity = more guns, and more guns = more gun violence.

    As far as fighter planes as symbols of a state, fighter planes are not in the hands of civilians, or being used by civilians for crime, so I have less objection, even if a state were to bother with such an idea.

  31. MikeB302000,

    Prove me wrong. Prove that the ban wasn't complete and total.

    Yes, people could possess firearms IF they owned them at the time the ban went into place. After that, it was a complete and total ban on people possessing firearm.

    Or are you saying that you didn't support the bans?

  32. How does the Mormon Church feel about this new symbol? Sounds like Utah is sucking up to the nra yet again. Way to suck, guys.

  33. @eumenides, I chuckle at the people like you that demonize the NRA as some horrible, all-powerful evil organization... There are many 2nd Amendment purists (you'd probably call them "extremists") that dislike the legislative action side of the NRA because they support many politicians with questionable support of the right to keep and bear arms, and have made far too many "compromises" of our rights. They care more about their political power than protection of the right to keep and bear arms that "shall not be infringed."

    There's some that believe NRA even stands for "Negotiating Rights Away" and that the reason they have so many members may be because of their "moderate" stance and that they do support SOME gun control (background checks for one).

    You can continue to howl about the NRA, it takes your attention off of others (like me) that are working hard for no gun control whatsoever. :)


  34. Orygunner--such a clever name--I use the nra as shorthand because most American don't even know that far extreme gunners (you really need a less Freudian handle) like you and off even exist. You guys abuse the Second Amendment even worse than the nra. If most Americans knew about your ilk, they would move to either ban all weapons or require mental health screenings before buying guns.
    Have a great day.

  35. Wow, eumenides, abuse of the 2nd Amendment? How does somebody abuse a something that's specifically written as a limit on the powers of the government?

    You DO know that the Bill of Rights was written as a list of limitations against the Federal Government, NOT a list of what the people are allowed to do, right? The Bill of rights doesn't grant rights to the people, it protects the rights that the framers knew ALREADY EXISTED. You can find this in almost every Supreme Court case that deals with any of the Bill of Rights.

    Here's a question to test your understanding of the wording of the 2nd Amendment: When the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was written, did the phrase "well-regulated" mean:
    a) Controlled or directed according to rule, principle, or law.
    b) The property of something being in proper working order, functioning as expected.

    (Whichever your answer, please provide some evidence, or your answer is simply "guessing.")


  36. Hey Orieogunner, your infantile guessing games are pointless. Good luck not shooting yourself. Seriously.

  37. @eumenides,

    Hmm. let me see if I can compose a response as mature and well-thought out as yours:


    Nyaa, Nyaa, Nya-Nyaa, Nyaa!

    I am rubber, you are glue, the names you call bounce off me and stick on you!

    You're a big doo doo head!

    I sincerely hope I have been able to match your level of maturity and successfully communicated with you on your level. In the future, I will try and remember to stop using big words and concepts you can't understand and can't argue against to avoid confusing you any further with the facts.

    I'll make sure and set my expectations appropriately (to kindergarten level) the next time I see "eumenides said..."


  38. Orygunner & Eumenides: Okay, you guys, don't make me put you in separate corners in time out! Let's have a bit more respect, please.

  39. But, But, SHE started it! I'm trying to be nice and SHE started the name calling!

    OK. I'll behave ;) By the way, Baldr, have I told you lately how much I admire you for your willingness to allow open discussion? That is truly unique among gun control advocates. Most of the gun control groups refuse to allow any dissenting opinions or questioning of their policies, and many of the individuals degrade into name calling and shutting down all communication.

    You are one of about 5 or 6 individuals that allows open discussion in their forum or Blog that I've found. We should maybe have coffee sometime since we're local to each other.


  40. Thanks, Orygunner. It's appreciated on your blog, too. Openness is the only way we can understand each other.