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Jones: Every day is Browning Day

Published March 8, 2010 9:34 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In a world where every dog has its day, Ogden native John Moses Browning is having a devil of a time getting his.

Browning designed the guns that turned the tide of wars, and made sure the West stayed won. But Sen. Mark Madsen's attempts to honor the man have been muzzled.

You'd think this would be easy. Madsen is trying to designate a state holiday, not institute health care reform. And the senator certainly couched it correctly, holding Browning up as a war hero.

According to Madsen, the Browning Automatic Rifle and the M1911 semi-automatic pistol, long-time staples of the U.S. military, caused terminal cases of lead poisoning in enemy troops, saving countless American lives.

That said, the vote should have been anti-climactic. Just pick a day, any day. Well, almost any day.

Madsen, a white guy from Lehi, wanted to give Browning his due without giving state workers another paid day off. So he suggested that Browning share a holiday with Martin Luther King, because the two have so much in common. For example, Browning made guns, and King was killed by a gun. And, uhm, ... (Perhaps they should adopt Mark Madsen/April Fools Day as a state holiday, because only a fool would try to link JMB with MLK).

To the clueless senator's surprise, that idea got shot down by what Madsen referred to as "racial politics." Or maybe it was just human nature. Nobody likes to share. (You can bet Washington and Lincoln are still grumbling about sharing Presidents Day with the Bush who likes broccoli.)

After that, a cynical man might conclude that attaching the Browning name to a shooting range, or a hunting season, or a dead Hun's toe, would be a better bet.

But Madsen was undeterred, and targeted Pioneer Day. And this time, he had the good sense to consult with the LDS Church, which is in charge of state holidays. But again, no love for Browning.

So Madsen tried to piggyback on other holidays. Memorial Day. Veterans Day. Bring-Your-Gun-to-Work Day. But even National Pancake Day turned him down flat.

Meanwhile, opposition was building.

Some argue that there's no need for a holiday, that every day is John Browning Day in gun-ingrained Utah, where newborns exit the birth canal pointing fingers and saying: "Pow."

Still more say that there are Utahns more worthy than Browning. For example, there was that Young fellow, very famous, put Utah on the map. Steve was his name.

And some might even say that Browning was an accessory to thousands of deaths, and thus unworthy. But to make that claim erroneously implies that guns kill people, when everybody knows that bullets are to blame.

Finally, a compromise made it out of a Senate committee. If lawmakers concur, next Jan. 24 will be John Moses Browning Day, a one-and-done celebration. If not, Madsen should try a two-for-one holiday deal to build a bigger base of support.

There are plenty of Utahns deserving of days, including some that would be a natural match with Browning.

For example, Maud Fitch of Eureka was a World War I ambulance driver. She saved the American soldiers that Browning didn't.

And Philo T. Farnsworth, born near Beaver, is credited by many as the inventor of the boob tube. While Browning helped define violence; Farnsworth helped desensitize us to it.

E-mail: cjones@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">cjones@sltrib.com