The Arizona Legislature is considering a bill to designate a historic Colt revolver the official state firearm, angering gun-control activists who denounced the measure as insulting and a waste of time when the state is facing serious economic problems.
The measure comes less than two months after the deadly shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a former Arizona legislator. The mass shooting has prompted gun-control supporters to push for tougher weapons laws, although that is unlikely to happen in an Arizona Legislature that has become a national leader in passing pro-gun laws in recent years.
Sen. Ron Gould, sponsor of the bill, said he sees nothing wrong with honoring a firearm for its contribution to the state's western heritage. "We spent about 120 seconds of committee time on that bill," Gould said. "So it's not like it takes an overwhelming amount of time. Generally, everybody asking why we are doing this takes longer than actually doing it."
With the state centennial celebrations under way, Colt lobbyist Todd Rathner says the bill is fitting to honor the state's founders. Rathner said the Colt Single-action Army revolver played a major role in protecting the mines and settlements during the late 19th century.
"Arizona was founded by rugged individuals who took care of themselves and did so largely with a Colt Single Action Army Revolver on their hip," said Rathner, who is pushing the firearm bill which would make Arizona one of the first two states to recognize an official gun.
Anti-gun activists like Hildy Saizow, president of Arizonans for Gun Safety thinks it's a bad idea altogether.
"First of all, that our legislature would be spending time on this when the public wants state legislatures to focus on things like the state budget makes no sense," Saizow said. "What we need to be focused on is how do we prevent gun violence, that's the public issue."
Utah lawmakers have passed a similar bill to designate the Browning M1911 _ a semiautomatic pistol _ as the state's official gun. The bill awaits the governor's signature.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 9-4 early Wednesday to advance the measure. The bill enjoys widespread support _ almost half of the Legislature is co-sponsoring the measure.
Associated Press Writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this report.