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New state symbol draws controversy

Published: Monday, February 21, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 00:02

Gun

Ravell Cail | AP

Scott Grange, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Chris Browning present the new state gun of Utah. Students and faculty weigh in on the historic Browning M1911 becoming the first official state firearm.

Utah may become the first state in the nation's history to designate an official state gun after the Utah House passed legislation to make the Browning M1911 pistol the official state firearm.

The bill is in the final stages of approval and is likely to pass. State Senator Carol Moss, D-Holladay, has been outspoken against the bill, referencing gun accidents and shootings as reasons she believes the measure is insensitive, according to "The first official state firearm? Utah aims at a pistol" by Howard Berkes Published on Jan. 27 by www.npr.com

Other legislators have said they believe the measure celebrates Utah's history because the M1911, which has been used by the U.S. military for almost 100 years, was invented by Ogden native John M. Browning, according to the same article.

A Dixie State College freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, staff member and faculty member all shared their views on this notion.

Assistant Philosophy professor Hyrum LaTurner said he is opposed to the idea, and he said he hopes legislators would realize designating a state gun should be low on their priority list.

"That would be embarrassing to me," he said. "It just seems to me that it would imply we are particularly fond of killing people or defending ourselves to the death."

On the other end of the spectrum is Dwayne Bright, a junior criminal justice major from Cleveland, who said having a state gun is another way of expressing Utah's pride.

"I think it would be sweet," he said. "I shoot guns myself."

He said he didn't think the idea of a state gun sends a bad message.

"We need to exercise our right to bear arms, so I'm all for that," he said. "I own a gun myself."

Alyssa Smith, a freshman nursing major from Elko, Nev., said the idea of a state gun surprises her.

"I think that's interesting considering the fact everybody is trying to ban guns," she said.

Smith said she can understand why people might feel the state gun is a meaningful way to celebrate history, but she disagrees with making the M1911 official.

"I don't think I would make a state gun," she said. "That's not a good way to celebrate that pride or that history. I'm not against guns, I come from Nevada, but I think that's sort of an awkward way to represent your pride."

Cody Pitcher, a senior business major from St. George, said he has no qualms with a state gun, but he doesn't see the point in making it official.

"I'm pro gun," he said. "I've never shot a browning 1911, but I think it's a waste of time to make a state gun. I see no state benefit or benefit to the residents of the state."

Campus dining secretary Bonnie Jensen said a gun is different than flowers, birds or other state symbols.

"I don't have a problem with people owning their own guns," she said. "But I don't think it has a place as a symbol."

Natalie Kreitzer, a sophomore general education from Sandy, said she doesn't see any reason to have a state gun, but at the same time she said she doesn't see the point in having a state fish either.

Kreitzer said the idea of the state gun promoting violence is not valid, and she thinks the historical significance of the weapon is the important qualification.

She said she would support it if "you had an old gun that originated here, [or] that the pioneers used or something like that."

LaTurner rejected the idea of historical significance as a reason for creating a state gun.

"People decide what is historically important based on some other values," he said. "There isn't anything truly objective about an historical perspective, so if somebody wanted to use history to justify why we need to have a state gun, that would imply to me that they're getting away from the notion of ‘why do we need a state gun?' It's an excuse."

 

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