Arizona Gets an Official State Gun — And It’s Manufactured in Connecticut

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William Vandivert/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

A view of a soldier holding a US Army Colt automatic .45 caliber pistol.

Oh, Arizona. Now, in addition to an official state reptile (the Ridge-nosed rattlesnake) and official state neckwear (the bola tie), you can add an official state gun.

As of Thursday, when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law, the Colt single-action army revolver became the official sidearm of the Grand Canyon State.

Designating the gun — the same one slung by Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Theodore Roosevelt — the official heater of Arizona might have been an olive branch of sorts. It was just last week, after all, that Brewer vetoed a bill allowing guns on university and community college campuses.

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Reactions from the state senate were mixed. Supporters noted that the gun, first produced in 1873, defended the state’s early settlers. But many of Arizona’s 250,000 Native Americans, say Navajo legislators, see it differently. This was one of the guns that helped push them off their land.

Arizona is actually the second state to adopt a state gun. Utah unholstered first in mid-March, when Gov. Gary Herbert made the Browning M1911 automatic pistol, manufactured in the Beehive State, its official weapon.

Arizona’s Colt is actually made in Connecticut. But the company is delighted nonetheless. “We’re very excited and impressed,” says Jeff Radziwon, spokesman for Colt Defense, the military arm of the company, which is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary. He declined to comment further, referring us to the company’s civilian arm, which, as of this writing, is attending the annual NRA conference in Pittsburgh and is unavailable for comment.

But Colt has always fancied itself a pillar of public life. As the gun catalog reads: “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.” — by Deirdre Van Dyk

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