Opinion: Showdown! Arizona vs Utah as first with an official state gun


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Listen. If individual states can have their official seal and motto and song and bird and fruit and flower and fish and insect and fossil and even cooking pot.

Why not an official state gun?

Looks like that’ll work in Arizona.

And what better place to launch the favorite firearm trend than the historic home state of the notorious O.K. Corral, where the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday shot it out with the Clantons et al 130 years ago this fall?


Although a movie or two muddled many details and some still say yellow-belly Ike Clanton ran from the showdown on Tombstone’s Fremont Street.

Legislators in the Grand Canyon State currently aim to name the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as Arizona’s official state gun, allegedly in memory of its 19th-century frontier days. And what a meaningful honor that would be, right?

Now, when some little item like this pops up in the news to break the hopelessly depressing monotony of faraway really important events, a cynic could suspect that....

...a lobbyist for some gunmaker was behind the stunt. And that cynic would be right on target, bull’s-eye, dead center. ‘Arizona was founded by rugged individuals,’ says Todd Rathner, who does helpful political things for the benefit of a certain gunmaker who patented the revolver mechanism back in 1836, old Andrew Jackson’s day. ‘They took care of themselves and did so largely with a Colt Single Action Army Revolver on their hip.”

‘Best gun I ever fired at Frank McLaury’ -- Wyatt Earp.

There is, of course, always someone in these stories armed with the ammo and aiming to ruin all the fun.

“First of all,’ shot Hildy Saizow, who opposes guns, ‘that our Legislature would be spending time on this when the public wants state legislatures to focus on things like the state budget makes no sense.”

The bill’s main sponsor, state Sen. Ron Gould, triggered the debate by rounding up and corraling about half the Legislature in a herd of co-sponsors.

So, its legislative success is no contest. The bill shot through the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, 9-4.

Gould says the measure merely celebrates the state’s Western heritage while the criticism is a misfire. He says the committee targeted all of two minutes on it. ‘Everybody asking why we are doing this takes longer than actually doing it,” Gould fired back.

Speaking of time, Arizona better be quick on the draw if it wants to be the nation’s first official gun-having state.

Utah’s Legislature has already passed a similar bill, which names the ageless Colt .45 of 1911 as its official state gun. Legislators reckoned the hard-hitting .45 a fitting tribute to its inventor, John Moses Browning. You’ll never guess what Western state he hailed from.

Utah’s gun designation, locked and loaded, needs only the signature of Gov. Gary Herbert.

And -- watch out! -- he’s going for his pen right now.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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