Know what I like best about Canada’s national symbol, the beaver?
It’s not imperial. Not for us the American eagle with its razor talons, the British bulldog with its gobful of teeth or the ballsy Gallic rooster that struts symbolically for France.
Canadians chose a docile rodent with buck teeth. We could have opted for a ferocious wolf, a majestic moose, a mighty bison or a fearsome polar bear.
We went with the flabby furball that wouldn’t harm a black fly.
Maybe that set the pattern for our provincial emblems because they’re pretty bland and inoffensive too. British Columbia has the Steller’s Jay; Newfoundland and Labrador went for the Atlantic Puffin. For Ontario it’s the Common Loon (perfect — what with having Ottawa and all) and New Brunswick stands behind the mighty Black capped Chickadee.
I’m not sneering about this. I think it’s positively endearing Canadians chose non-threatening, peaceable symbols to represent their provinces. For our prickly cousins to the south, it’s a little different. They go for state guns. Arizona has just proclaimed its official state firearm; the Colt single-action Army revolver. It’s the long-barrelled, six-cylinder shootin’ iron favoured by Wyatt Earp.
Arizona was late off the mark — the state of Utah has already declared its official state firearm — the Browning M1911 — a semi-automatic .45 calibre handgun. Is the Browning M1911 for hunting elk or target shooting? Nah. Its purpose is to kill people, period. It was developed by gun maker John Browning specifically for the U.S. Army which had put out tenders for a handgun powerful enough to drop an enemy soldier with a single shot.
It’s difficult to figure out why any state legislature feels it needs to honour an instrument the only purpose of which is homicide. You’d think American politicians might be just a tad sensitive to the idea of venerating a weapon of semi-mass destruction scant months after U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot along with 18 other unarmed citizens in Tucson by a lunatic armed with — guess what — a handgun.
But then Arizona has a different take on handguns — a different take on a lot of things — than most of us. It has a state reptile, the rattlesnake — even a state tie, the bolo. And if you Google ‘Arizona motorcycle seat’ you will see an item that’s very big among some bikers in the Grand Canyon state. It’s a leather motorcycle saddle with a couple of extra features: along the back is a cartridge belt for bullets and on the flank is a holster for a long-barrelled revolver.
Just what I want to see thundering down the highway at me — a biker on a Harley with one hand on the throttle and the other thumbing back the hammer on his hog leg pistol.
Arizona Republican Lori Klein — was recently asked in an interview if it was true that she carried a raspberry pink pistol in her purse.
“Aw, it’s so cute,” she enthused as she pulled out a .380 Ruger and pointed it at the reporter’s chest.
The nervous reporter noted the gun seemed to have no safety mechanism. Rep. Klein assured him that it was alright because she “didn’t have a finger on the trigger”.
Not every American politician takes a Dirty Harry attitude to guns. One of them once said this at a press conference:
“With all the violence and murder and killings we’ve had in the United States, I think you’ll agree that we must keep firearms from people who have no business with guns.”
Sounds pretty reasonable to me, but what do I know — I’m a beaver boy, a Canadian. American politicians ignored the politician when he made that statement. And that’s a pity. His name was Robert F. Kennedy.