Utah is poised to adopt the classic Browning M1911 semi-automatic as its official "state gun", in honour of native John Browning who invented the weapon in 1911.
The proposal to add the M1911 to Utah's roster of approved symbols, including state cooking pot and state folk dance*, "breezed" through a House Political Subdivisions Committee hearing this week, and will now go before the full Utah House for a final vote.
Speaking to the committee, Republican Carl Wimmer said of Browning: "He invented a firearm that has defended American values and the traditions of this country for 100 years."
Inevitably, the recent shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, who was hit by a round from a Glock 19, has prompted doubts that honouring a semi-automatic is a very tasteful idea.
Steve Gunn, a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center, told AP: "It's an embarrassment to the state to have as a symbol that was used only a few weeks ago to kill innocent people."
Wimmer responded: "There is nothing about the actions of a madman to change the fact that firearms have been used throughout our history to defend American values and traditions."
Fellow Republican Stephen Sandstrom had already addressed the matter when he told the committee: "Tragic events happen because of bad people in this world. But handguns, and firearms in general, do not kill people. We need to stop demonizing firearms." ®