Utah is about to become the first state to have an official firearm.
The Utah Senate has passed a bill declaring the Browning M1911 the Beehive state's official gun. Lawmakers passed the bill on a party line vote with Republicans supporting the legislation and Democrats opposing.
During a press conference, Senate President Michael Waddoups read a letter from a seventh grader. The child writes his family "worships guns" and especially likes the M1911 because it is the first weapon used to kill "Nazi zombies" in the video game, "Call of Duty: Black Ops."
The letter closes with the child acknowledging that guns can cause violence when used in a bad way, but guns also show other countries who is the boss.
Waddoups said the letter shows the child is "doing some thinking" about the issue of guns. In the last week, he received more than 70 letters that mostly made the same points about supporting guns and gun ownership.
The Browning M1911 semiautomatic pistol was invented by Utah native John M. Browning 100 years ago.
Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero said the letter shows the danger of glamorizing guns, especially for children. "I see the challenge of even introducing the subject (of gun violence) to this person. He's overemphasized the utility of guns," Romero said. "In a video game, you shoot something and walk on. In real life, there are consequences."
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says Utah should spend their time tightening access to guns, not touting the virtues of firearms. In the latest state rankings for gun safety, Utah was the only state to receive a zero due to the accessibility of guns, including military assault rifles.
During floor debate, the bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Mark Madsen said it was a way to honor Browning.
Madsen inserted language into the bill clarifying the Legislature does not condone the use of a gun by criminals or to harm innocent people. "It's perfectly consistent to recognize the role of firearms . how they play into our culture."
Sen. Dan Thatcher said the value of the Browning pistol as a state symbol was the education of children.
"How many school children are going to see that Utah has a state firearm and wonder why? Will it lead them to look up the history of the use of this firearm? I hope it will. It sets Utah apart as a unique and interesting place," Thatcher said.
The Utah House has already passed the bill but most have another vote due to a change in the language. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to sign the bill into law.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.