If a personalized license plate that reads DEPORTM wins approval by the state, despite rules that prohibit expressions of contempt for race, then why is a plate honoring Utah’s state firearm banned from the streets?
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, joined Lee Lonsberry in studio for his show, Live Mic, to hammer out the details behind what he feels is a confounding issue.
Background on the state gun
Back in 2011, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill into law designating the Browning model M1911 automatic pistol as the official state firearm.
John M. Browning, who founded the company that makes the gun, was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1855 and he lived until 1926. He designed the automatic pistol for the U.S. Army, which was bogged down in battles with guerrilla fighters in the Philippines and needed a quick-firing weapon.
The pistol was adopted by the Army in 1911, which is how it got the name Model 1911. The .45 automatic was first combat tested in 1916 by the U.S. military in Mexico while pursuing bandit-turned-revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa.
Does state symbol endanger public welfare?
Aposhian said when he got a new pickup truck he ordered a specialty personalized license plate honoring the state firearm. Asposhian wasn’t seeking a vanity plate that had an image of the Model 1911 firearm, but rather a plate with the letters: M1911 A1
But the plate was denied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Aposhian appealed the ruling. He was denied again, citing this statute:
(c) Combinations of letters, words, or numbers that connote. . . or express affiliations or actions that may be construed to suggest endangerment to the public welfare.
And so Aposhian went to the Administrative Rules Committee and said:
“We have an example of a state agency that is either overstepping its bounds or not interpreting the existing administrative rules and statutes correctly.”
Aposhian said the committee advised the legislature that it would love some more direction, specifically focusing on state symbols.
“Because if we go by their [the state’s] logic,” Aposhian said, “then everyone who voted for that state symbol is a criminal murderer who is endangering the public welfare…which are words used in the statute.”
He said the state firearm symbol was meant to be a unifying, not a contentious, issue.
“The M1911 A1 was a gun that my dad carried as a sidearm on a ship — at Pearl Harbor, by the way,” Aposhian said. “I do it to honor him and to honor John M. Browning.”
“So, this isn’t over?” Lee asked.
Aposhian: “This ain’t even close to being over. We have a legislator who has offered legislation to clarify this.”