Arizona choses official state gun

 

Los Angeles

Welcome to Arizona; please shoot carefully. And if you really want to blend in with God-fearing locals, you may also want to be in possession of a cowboy hat, a sunburned neck, and at least one revolver, tucked into the waistband of your denim trousers.

In a move that can best be described as interestingly-timed, given tragic recent news events in the city of Tucson, Governor Jan Brewer this week signed into law a landmark piece of legislation that will give Arizona an official state firearm.

The Colt Single Action Army Revolver (also known as the "Peacemaker") will now join an eclectic list of items supposed to best reflect the unique history, landscape, and culture of the desert state. They include an official tree (the Palo Verde), breed of butterfly (Swallowtail), variety of gemstone (Turquoise), and wild-west-friendly type of neckwear (the bola tie).

Ms Brewer refused to comment on her decision to sign the bill, which was proposed by Republican lawmakers and backed by both gun manufacturers and the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group. However supporters claim it reflects the affection felt by some of Arizona's most famous natives towards Colt firearms.

Todd Rathner, a lobbyist employed by Colt, helped write the bill signed by Brewer. He told reporters that the gun is "historically important to the founding of the state and to the survival of the state." It was, he added, used by generations of Arizona Rangers.

Arizona, which has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the developed world, now becomes the second US State to adopt an official weapon. The decision to formalise its status reflects the strength of gun culture among locals. On any given day roughly 40 per cent of them are capable, to use common vernacular, of "packing heat."

The move also follows a trend. Earlier this year, neighbouring Utah became the first state to gain an official firearm, plumping for a semi-automatic pistol. Gun enthusiasts are now hoping to introduce similar measures across the nation. The National Rifle Association is vigorously lobbying lawmakers in Pennsylvania, for example, to plump for a long rifle.

Yet the growing idolisation of deadly weapons has also sparked heated debate, at a time when Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is still recovering from being shot in the head during an attack which left six dead and 15 injured outside a shopping centre in Tucson.

Her alleged assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, had previous convictions for drug possession and was suffering from mental illness. He was nonetheless able to legally purchase his weapon, an automatic Glock from a local gun store. The relaxation of gun laws under George W Bush also allowed him to buy an extended ammunition clip, doubling the number of rounds he was able to fire before being subdued.

Supporters of Ms Giffords have described the creation of a "state firearm" as an insult to the victims of that attack. They also say that it is a waste of legislative time, and is providing free publicity for a private company which doesn't even boast any employees in Arizona.

"This is a free advertisement for Colt," said Republican Senator Adam Driggs, noting that the legislature is currently facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall. "If the state is going to go in this direction, I think we should get the equivalent of naming rights."

It has further upset supporters of native Navajo Indians, who say the Colt was used as a tool of genocide by white settlers to drive them from their ancestral lands. Albert Hale, another Democrat, said it had been promoted by lawmakers "who are more concerned about their own agenda" than the impact it might have on Native American communities.

"If you want to symbolize something and shove that into the faces of the victims, this is it," Mr Hale said. "This gun symbolizes extinction and extermination. To glorify this action and act as if a John Wayne movie is real history is very disturbing."

One of the lawmakers who wrote the bill creating the official firearm is Russell Pearce, a Republican who was also behind Arizona's controversial anti-immigration bill, which was deemed unconstitutional by a court last year.

Mr Pearce did not address the controversy this week, but shortly after the shooting of Giffords he achieved fame by appearing on television to claim that "guns save lives," arguing that if only an armed citizen "prepared to take action" had been present during the shooting "lives could have been saved".

It later emerged that Joe Zamudio, one of the onlookers who helped subdue gunman Jared Lee Loughner at the scene, was actually armed at the time. Mr Zamudio came within seconds of shooting the wrong man, wrongly identifying a fellow bystander as the assailant.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on