Gun Crazy
January 27th, 2011

Here in the great state of Utah, we are forever engaged in a struggle to convince the outside world that, contrary to popular perception, we are not just a bunch of backwoods nincompoops. In fact, ours is the birthplace of a handful of geniuses—among them John Moses Browning, the greatest gunsmith the world has ever seen.

But, getting back to nincompoops. As I write this, our state legislature is in session, and among the bills introduced is one that would designate Browning’s M1911 automatic pistol the state gun. Eat your hearts out, ye states that have naught but state flowers and state birds!

Why a state gun? Because “it’s an implement of freedom that has defended America for 100 years,” declares the bills’ sponsor, Representative Carl Wimmer of Herriman.

“I think John M. Browning has single-handedly saved more American lives on the battlefield than any other American,” adds Representative Stephen Sandstrom of Orem. Sandstrom then added, “Handguns in general do not kill people. It’s the person behind the trigger that kills people.”

It’s a hoary observation, but true. Problem is, it’s so very easy for a nincompoop in America to lay his hands on a pistol. I felt much safer when I lived in Australia, where firearms are tightly regulated and the homicide rate is minuscule compared to ours. Is it because Aussies are more civil and even-tempered than Americans? Anyone who has seen the movie Mad Max or has followed the subsequent career of Mel Gibson knows that isn’t true. Fact is, it’s just really hard to kill someone with a boomerang.

So here is my advice, for whatever it’s worth. Let’s go ahead and honor John Browning, but, please, let’s not go on about all the “good” that springs forth from the barrels of deadly weapons. Let’s build a monument in his honor, and while we’re at it, let’s build another to honor that other brilliant inventor from the beehive state: Philo T. Farnsworth. Why, just the other day I happened upon Mr. Farnsworth’s humble headstone in the Provo City cemetery.

“Look over here,” I called out to Anne. “It’s the final resting place of Philo T. Farnsworth, the father of television.”

“He’s got a lot to answer for,” she replied.

-Richard Menzies