So, it looks like we're getting an Official State Gun, huh?
And not a moment too soon, if you ask me. Because it sure would be nice to know what caliber weapon I ought to use on the feral cats in our neighborhood.
Just in case you couldn't tell by the preceding sentences, the Utah Legislature is back in session. And among this year's proposed bills are a couple of real standouts:
* House Bill 219, sponsored by Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Wild West, seeks to make the Browning M1911 semiautomatic pistol the official state gun. Pundits around the country are having a field day with this one, saying -- among other things -- that it's not exactly the most sensitive legislation lawmakers have ever come up with, especially in light of the recent shootings in neighboring Arizona.
* House Bill 210, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-PETA, would allow people to humanely shoot, club or decapitate suspected feral creatures without running afoul of animal cruelty laws. Again, outsiders are having a good laugh at our expense over this one.
But the best part? All this, and Sen. Chris "Bored of Edjukashun" Buttars, R-Mississippi, hasn't even gotten warmed up yet.
It all points to what promises to be an extremely productive session of the Utah Legislature -- particularly for those of us who earn at least a part of our living poking fun at these misfits.
Let's take an in-depth look at each of these bills, in numerical order:
House Bill 210
Woot! If this one actually passes, I predict feral-animal hunting will overtake bird-watching as the No. 1 recreational hobby in the state. After all, shooting or even clubbing animals seems so much more sporting than simply poisoning them, or setting out foothold traps, or rounding them up in burlap sacks and taking them down to the river.
If anything, I'm not sure Rep. Oda's bill goes far enough. I mean, sure, feral animals are a problem and all, and declaring open season on them sounds like Fun with a capital F.
But what about the other nuisance animals in our lives? Like the dog that just won't stop barking .aa.aa. all .aa.aa. night .aa.aa. long. Or that cat from next door that uses the grandkids' sandbox as a public toilet. Or the neighbor's goldfish, which I swear keeps staring at me, giving me sinister looks every time I go over there.
Shouldn't we be able to do something about THOSE problem animals, too?
House Bill 219
It's a nice sentiment and all, honoring firearms pioneer John Browning by declaring one of his most important inventions an official state symbol. But I think we all know where this is headed. I mean, if we can have an Official State Gun, how long before we get an Official State Flamethrower? An Official State Pepper Spray? An Official State Blunt Force Trauma?
Look, we've already got a State Cooking Pot (the Dutch oven), for crying out loud. We've got a State Folk Dance (the square dance), a State Grass (Indian rice grass), and both a state hymn ("Utah, We Love Thee") AND a state song ("Utah, This Is the Place").
We've got a State Tartan (basically, your Official Utah State Dress Pattern), a State Star (Dubhe, in the Ursa Major constellation), and even a State Fossil (Bob Bennett).
True, we don't have a State Dirt like, say, California (the San Joaquin Soil), but we do have a State Rock (coal), a State Mineral (copper) and a State Gem (topaz).
And, not only do we have an Official State Vegetable (Spanish sweet onion), but we also have an Official State Historical Vegetable (sugar beet).
So, what does all this "state symbol" craziness mean? I'll tell you what it means. It means that, with any luck, the next time I write one of these incoherent weekly ramblings, it'll be as the Official Newspaper Columnist of the State of Utah.
That's right, people. I plan on writing my state legislators this week and asking them to co-sponsor a bill that would officially designate me as "State Newspaper Columnist."
If that's successful, I further plan on having my duly appointed representatives introduce one final bill this session, singling out their very own legislative body for a state symbol. (Maybe something like "Official State Disappointment"?)
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a rather sinister-looking feral goldfish to decapitate.
How'd you like to be designated the Official Newspaper Reader of the State of Utah? Mark Saal can make that happen. Contact him at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.