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I have a beautiful photograph of my great-grandfather Jonathan Edmund Browning working on a model of a gun designed by his brother John Moses Browning, one of many models John built for submission to the U.S. Patent Office in the process of patenting the Browning designs. The craft and the genius behind those designs have been justly celebrated for more than a century.

Today, in a world where random gun violence destroys so many young lives, shatters so many families, blasts the hopes of millions through the assassination and disabling of inspired leaders, it is stunning to learn that adults — let alone elected legislators — would seriously propose the glorification of firearms by designating an "official state firearm."

However brilliantly designed, however effectively the Browning M1911 has performed its role, those thoughtful men who designed and built that and so many other fine guns, as tools to be respectfully deployed by hunters and soldiers in military operations, would be shocked.

It is no honor to the Browning achievement to exploit it in a crassly political gesture at the very moment when the dreadful abuse of firearms has so tarnished that achievement.

Robert Pack Browning

Berkeley, Calif.