Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Utah schoolchildren may soon be learning about a deadly official state symbol. The Browning M1911 is moving toward legislative approval as the state gun. The Utah House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the measure; approval is also expected in the Senate:
"This firearm was created by John Moses Browning, who was a son of Utah pioneers," said Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer of Herriman, Utah, during debate on the House floor. "This firearm really has defended liberty and freedom around the country and around the world. And I think this is a very appropriate designation to capture a portion of the state history."
One need not be a pacifist to object to Wimmer's position. One could state that firearms have been used to defend the country, but that war is ultimately tragic and that we should work to rid ourselves of violent conflicts. We'll never do that, though, through the glorification of firearms. Rep. Carol Spackman Moss recognizes that the gun culture so prevalent in this country often carries horrific consequences:
"It seems insensitive to me at this time when many people are mourning the deaths of six people in Tucson and the serious wounding of Gabrielle Giffords, a friend of mine," Moss told the Utah House. "Many people have a negative experience with guns because guns do kill people [when they're] in the hands of those who use them wrongly."
Moss also described shootings that took the lives of two cousins: a soldier two weeks away from discharge at Fort Hood, Texas; and a teenager gazing at the stars with a friend when a thrill-seeker shot them both.
...Moss said she had a difficult time imagining schoolchildren drawing and coloring the Utah state symbols — the delicate sego lily, the majestic Rocky Mountain elk and the tasty sugar beet — and then turning to a lethal .45-caliber handgun.
A state gun could help indoctrinate such schoolchildren into the state's gun culture:
Last year, Utah issued more than 67,000 concealed-weapons permits, with more than 51,000 going to people who don't even live in the state, according to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.