As we prepare to turn our calendars forward to January 2011, several prominent American handgun manufacturers have already introduced new commemorative models marking the historic anniversary of the introduction of what is arguably the most famous, durable and imitated pistol design the world has ever known—the 1911.
And while the centennial of the 1911 handgun will be met with great anticipation by shooters, collectors and gun marketers alike, it is not passing unnoticed in the state of Utah, where John Moses Browning lived and worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This week, Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman), announced he plans to introduce a measure to designate the Browning Model 1911 as the Official State Firearm when the legislature convenes in January.
Rep. Wimmer, NRA Life Member, former police officer, and a certified instructor for Utah concealed-weapons permits, said he believes it is fitting to honor the man who is responsible for creating a firearm used by American soldiers in every global conflict since World War I.
"It would be very appropriate going into 2011 because it is the 100-year anniversary of the Browning model 1911," Wimmer said. "It has a rich history. It was in every war from World War I to World War II, Korea, Vietnam and all the recent wars. It is still used by some military units and many police agencies."
If Wimmer's bill becomes law, Utah would be the first state in the country to have an official gun.
Widely considered the genius of his era, Browning's most enduring legacy was the short-recoil design behind the 1911 handgun, which remains the pre-eminent operating system in today's semi-automatic handguns, a century after it was first introduced.
Browning was born in Ogden, UT, in 1855 and died at his desk in 1926. He made his first firearm at age 13 in his father's gun shop and is credited with 128 gun patents.
His other famous creations include Winchester's Model 1886 lever-action rifle, Model 1887 lever-action repeating shotgun, Model 1897 pump shotgun and Models 1894 and 1895 lever-action repeating rifles. For good measure throw in the Colt Model 1895 "Peacemaker" machine gun, Model 1917 .30 cal. water-cooled machine gun and the M2 .50 BMG machine gun.
"I think it is something that we can get done very, very quickly early in the session," Wimmer said of his proposal. "I don't think it will be controversial."