“A resolution designating the Barrett Model M82/M107 as Tennessee’s official state rifle was approved in the House last year 74-9 with a smattering of vocal bipartisan opposition — under sponsorship of Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, a Marine veteran who carried the weapon during a tour of duty in Iraq,” knoxnews,.com reports. “It was unanimously approved in the Senate State and Local Government Committee last week with Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, hailing the gun as one that has saved lives of both American soldiers and innocent civilians even though it’s widely known as a ‘sniper rifle.'” Even though? And why not . . .
the Tennessee long rifle?
For those unfamiliar with the firearm, click here for an excellent paper on the subject by Robin C. Hale. Suffice it to say, the Tennessee rifle was the peer of the more widely known “Kentucky rifle.” The built-in-Tennessee versions helped the state’s earliest settlers survive in the wilderness and spread throughout the Rockies. Well worth recognition.
It seems politics is at play (shocking, I know) in the selection of the .50 cal Barrett.
One objection raised in the House was that the proposal — — HJR231 — amounts to a state-sanctioned endorsement of one manufacturer’s product over others. In particular, it was noted that Beretta Inc. recently invested millions of dollars in a gun manufacturing plant at Clarksville.
Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, said Beretta is a “fine company” making fine firearms, but is better known for its pistols and shotguns. She suggested a future resolution could designate a Berretta-manufactured handgun as Tennessee’s official state pistol.
The Barrett rifle designation, she said, “honors Tennessee’s ingenuity in manufacturing.” The weapon was developed by Ronnie Barrett, founder and owner of Murfreesboro-based Barret Firearms, whose wife, Donna, is a former state representative.
Speaking of politics, the bill’s sponsor felt obliged to downplay the Barrett’s “sniper” rep.
Briggs, who served as an Army physician in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he had received emails objecting that the state would pay homage to a “sniper rifle” primarily used to kill people. But the senator said he personally witnessed situations in which the Barrett M82 was used to “detonate ordinance” and thus avoid casualties.
“It can be used to disable vehicles without killing the occupants of that vehicle. It not only saves American lives, it may even save innocent civilian lives,” Briggs said.
Huh? The things we do for love . . .