Rep. Carl Wimmer's bill to designate the Browning M1911 handgun as a state symbol shot through the House on Wednesday, though it did generate strong debate from opponents who felt it was insensitive in light of the mass shooting in Tucson.
The Herriman Republican, however, said it was simply about honoring John Moses Browning, a Utah native who invented the handgun still used today.
"It's an appropriate and fitting tribute to a Utah icon," Wimmer said. "This firearm has defended liberty and freedom."
But Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, was among the first to oppose it.
"Someone once gave me this advice don't speak against guns. Now I'm going to break that advice," Moss said. "It seems insensitive at this time when people are mourning the death of six people in Tucson and the serious wounding of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords a friend of mine."
The debate on the floor lasted for about 20 minutes, with Moss worrying that kids will be doing puzzles and coloring books featuring the state flower, the state bird and now, a state gun. She said that while she doesn't oppose guns, she didn't seen the value in having it introduced to children the primary audience for learning about state designations.
The bill passed 51-19 and will now move to the Senate for consideration.