Utah is the first state in the country to have a state-designated firearm, after Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation recognizing the Browning M1911 as the official gun.
"The governor has said previously, and still feels, this isn't about a gun," said Herbert's spokeswoman, Ally Isom. "It's about honoring John Moses Browning and paying tribute to the man as an innovator and entrepreneur and someone who has given a lot to the state of Utah."
The measure, HB219, adds the M1911 semiautomatic pistol to the list of official state symbols, joining the blue spruce as the state tree; the elk as the state animal; the Bonneville cutthroat trout as the state fish; and the Dutch oven as the state cooking pot.
The bill was amended as it moved through the Legislature to recognize that Browning never actually manufactured the gun but designed it and gave the blueprint to the military, which had Colt, Remington and even International Harvester and sewing-machine-maker Singer manufacture the weapon.
Legislation is pending in Arizona to designate the Colt single-action Army revolver as that state's official firearm a recognition that advocates have criticized, coming on the heels of a Tucson shooting spree that left six dead and wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and several others.
Also on Wednesday, Herbert signed bills changing the criteria for the crime of prostitution; acknowledging a longstanding error in the state flag; honoring former Utah Jazz coaches Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson; and urging the federal government to remove wolves from the list of endangered species.