Utah legislator proposes insult to Martin Luther King, Jr.: Share the holiday with gun inventor and manufacturer


First:  No, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not assassinated with a shot from a Browning rifle.  The gun alleged to have been used by the man convicted of the shooting, James Earl Ray, was a Remington Gamemaster 760.

It was found in a Browning box, however.

One of my Utah sources alerted me to this story, and I’ll let the conservative Deseret News give the facts:

Utah Legislature: Utah to get gun holiday on MLK day?

Holding both holidays on the same day was proposed as a money-saving measure, Niederhauser said. Madsen was not immediately available for comment.

By Lisa Riley Roche

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010 8:46 p.m. MST
SALT LAKE CITY — The birthday of famed Ogden gunmaker John Browning would be celebrated as a state holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day under a new bill.

SB247, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, has yet to be drafted but is titled “John M. Browning State Holiday.”

According to Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the holiday would be observed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the third Monday of every January.

King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and assassinated in 1968. Browning’s birthday is believed to be around Jan. 21, and he died at age 71 in 1926. Jenkins acknowledged there is concern about celebrating both men on the same day.

Utah lawmakers had been criticized for beginning their annual legislative session on the same day as the King holiday until the state constitution was changed in 2008 to move the start date to the fourth Monday in January.

Then there is the question of whether a man who held 128 gun patents should share a holiday with a reverend who, before he was shot and killed, used non-violence to promote civil rights.

But Jenkins said, “Guns keep peace.”

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP’s Salt Lake branch, said she was “furious” about the possibility.

“It is not acceptable for the name John M. Browning to jointly share the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday,” she said. “Dr. King was assassinated by a man using a gun. John M. Browning was a gun manufacturer. … To me, it’s a very mean-spirited act. I’m not sure what is behind doing all of this.”

The NAACP has been involved with a number of legislative battles, particularly over the holiday’s name and a recent fight to have the Legislature delay its start so as not to overlap with the holiday.

“I am extremely adamant about not making any changes to this holiday,” Williams said. “We have fought too hard for this.”

Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Holladay, also questioned the idea.

“There’s probably many famous Utahns who might deserve their own day,” she said. “Let’s keep the day for someone who spent his life working in a peaceful manner for the goodwill of all Americans and not dilute the memory of his efforts.”

Senate Majority Whip Wayne Niederhauser said Madsen is open to moving the Browning holiday to a different day. “His main purpose is to honor John Browning,” Niederhauser said. “He’s a pioneer here in Utah.”  (Contributing: Aaron Falk)

Utah’s legislature can be pretty insulting in its intended actions.  I interned there in two different sessions.  Many of us recall that this legislature once proposed to rename the College of Southern Utah to avoid confusion about its acronym with a couple of other schools (Colorado State and Colorado Southern, among others).  The original bill would have renamed it “Southern Utah College.”

Alert interns picked up on the acronym problem right away, and the school was instead renamed Southern Utah State College (then University, now Southern Utah University).

Maybe we can find those interns, and alert the current legislature that they should not even consider this patently, blatantly offensive idea.

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6 Responses to Utah legislator proposes insult to Martin Luther King, Jr.: Share the holiday with gun inventor and manufacturer

  1. Whether we honor John Moses Browning with a holiday is still a matter of discussion in the Senate, but it won’t be on MLK Day.

    Here’s an update from our Twitter site:

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  2. chris says:

    Nick,

    Substantively I agree with you that the governments arsenal of “explosive might” and “such” out-weighs its’ citizenry (the small “us” -vs- the big “U.S.”)

    However, your comment demonstrates the underlying cynicism–if not outright powerlessness that is felt around the country by many, and actually validates the more fine points of my argument. Armaments are not the only tools of government. Government propaganda is probably the largest and most effective in their big gun arsenal. It affects directly all of us by affecting our minds and how we feel and how we see things and sum them up.

    King embodies, (blood included) the power struggle for freedom and the right for a non-oppressed life. The notion of a small group of “us” using a firearm against a potentially “oppressive” government is not the solution as you so eloquently noted. Your point is in essence: the second amendment, as to its’ original franchise, is not really practical tactically. Yet, it does stand as a Fundamental U.S. Human Right–and that has a vital symbolism that should not be ignored. So does Martin Luther King, my friend. And, beyond the very sad irony of King’s assassination by a bullet from a Remington, his death would have been as tragic had it come through a crowbar and is not the result of a gun. Rather, it is the result of a more sinister pathology–That of Hate. Hence, I see a strong dove-tailing of these two men and their contributions to the symbolism of Freedom, and the Dream of Freedom. A dream that must remain vitally alive in all of our minds and hearts.

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  3. Nick Kelsier says:

    Chris, if the guy wants to come up with a holiday to support that..fine…but on a different day. not on a day celebrating a man who was assasinated by a guy brandishing a gun.

    And as for the rest of your argument…tell me..what is a semiautomatic handgun going to do against an “oppressive” government that has bombers, tanks and such?

    See that’s the idiocy of that “we need guns to defend us from if the government goes oppressive.” Firearms and military technology have long outstripped the ability of the common person to be able to pick up a gun and fight an “oppressive” government. In this country at least.

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  4. I agree with the gentleman from Utah. Not “in your face agree”, but rationally agree. Why? Because access to guns are about securing our liberty–our freedom. There seems to be only two ways to sober an oppressive government. Civil disobedience and guns. Civil disobedience should be completely exhausted before we turn to our guns, yet having the right to arms has always been a last vanguard to liberty. Hence the Second Amendment. I have not seen personally the language in the proposal from the Utah legislator, but would offer a perspective that did not reflexively jerk out the thought: “right wing wackjob”

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  5. I agree with the gentleman from Utah. Not “in your face agree”, but rationally agree. Why? Because guns are not about violence. Guns are about securing our liberty–our freedom. There seems to be only two ways to sober an oppressive government. Civil disobedience and guns. Civil disobedience should be completely exhausted before we turn to our guns, yet having the right to arms has always been a last vanguard to liberty. Hence the Second Amendment. I have not seen personally the language in the proposal from the Utah legislator, but would offer a perspective that did not reflexively jerk out the thought: “right wing wackjob”

    Like

  6. Nick Kelsier says:

    Then there is the Representative in South Carolina who has proposed a state law that bans federal currency and orders the state of South Carolina to print its own.

    Yes ladies and gentlemen, the right wing whackjobs have come out in force the last few weeks.

    Like

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