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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant - Travel

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Auto centre is based in We...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate