There are 7 states with official guns. But only one scares the hell out of me.

Let's be honest: the entire concept of "Official State Things" is kind of weird and arbitrary.

Don't get me wrong; it's great for bringing publicity to state exports and recognizing cultural contributions, so that's all good and well. Things like state tree and state bird are all pretty commonplace across the 50. 

But then there are a handful of states that have Official Crustaceans, for example. And of the 28 states with an Official State Beverage, 21 of them chose milk. Vermont is the only state with an Official State Flavor (maple, obviously). And in Arkansas, the ripe vine tomato is both the Official State Fruit and Vegetable.


FOR THE LAST TIME, THEY'RE FREAKING FRUITS, OK?! Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.

There are also U.S. states with ​Official State Firearms.

On February 24, 2016, Tennessee became the latest state to join this gun-happy tradition, following in the illustrious tradition established by Utah, Arizona, Indiana, West Virginia, Alaska, and Pennsylvania before them.

But there's something about Tennessee's Official State Gun doesn't quite fit in with the rest of them...

Let's take a look, and see if you can figure out the difference.

Photo by Karen Bleier/Getty Images.

1. Utah

Utah was the first state to declare an Official Gun, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Browning M1911 pistol, which was originally designed by John Browning of Ogden, Utah — where the gun is still manufactured to this day.

100 years old? Local pride? Probably a little bit of economic stimulation? That's not so different than any other Official State Something. 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

2. Arizona

Arizona joined the Official Gun party one month later in April 2011 with the Colt Single Action Army Revolver. Also known as the Colt .45 or "the gun that won the west," it was favored by frontier heroes like Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Wild Bill Hickok — which also makes it kind of insensitive to the local Native American population. 

But hey, it's been around since 1873 (even though it was invented in New England), so it gets a reluctant pass.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

3. Indiana

Indiana followed one year later in March 2012 with the Grouseland rifle, which dates back to sometime between 1803 and 1812. This gun was invented by John Small, who was the first sheriff of Knox County, Indiana, as well as the designer the official Indiana state seal. Also, there are only six known Grouseland rifles still in existence. (That means no photos, sorry!)

4. West Virginia

The Hall Model 1819 flintlock rifle was named the Official Gun of West Virginia in April 2013. Again, it was invented in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, and had nearly 200 years of pedigree and a lengthy stint in the U.S. Army before it earned Official State Gun status.

Photo from Antique Military Rifles/Flickr.

5. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania made the Pennsylvania long rifle their Official Gun in June 2014, even though it's also known as the Kentucky long rifle, which is a tad confusing. This muzzleloading gun was invented in the 1700s, and was pretty much the first new gun developed in colonial America, which means that when the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment, this is probably the gun they were thinking of. 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

6. Alaska

Alaska named the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 bolt-action sporting rifle as its Official State Gun in July 2014, to commemorate its role in helping Americans "establish a firm foothold" in the Alaskan frontier. Not quite as historic as some of the other Official State Guns on this last, but I'm willing to give it a pass because it's Alaska. (and also because the leftover scrap pieces from the Winchester factory were an integral part of my own childhood, which I swear is less concerning than it sounds.)

Photo from Wikimedia Commons. (Technically this is the post-1964 version, but you get the idea.)

7. And then there's Tennessee...which designated this monstrosity as its Official State Firearm.

"Haha, look at that pathetic woman struggling to handle that massive piece of non-phallic manly artillery, haha." — Those guys, probably. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Barrett M82 is a .50 caliber semiautomatic sniper rifle that weighs about 30 pounds and can accurately deliver a bullet to a target more than a mile away. (although its maximum effective range is more like four miles. FOUR. MILES.)

It was invented by Tennessee resident (and NRA board member) Ronnie Barrett way way back in 1984, which I guess gives it some state-level relevance but are you serious with that thing?!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

There is literally no reason for a citizen to own a five-and-a-half-foot-long armor-piercing deathcannon like the Barrett M82 that can shoot a golfball-sized bullet through a tank from 50 football fields away.

No reason at all.

Are you really gonna pretend you need that thing to hunt a beaver or a bullfrog? Yeah OK.

Mexican Special Forces marching with M82s. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

That a weapon like this could not only be legal, but also celebrated by elected officials, speaks volumes about our nation's gun problem.

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images.

The Barrett M82 been used in an average of two major U.S. crimes each year for the past 25 years — and yet remains completely unregulated at the federal level. (although there are some states where it is banned under other existing laws, such as barrel length.) 

So while 85% of the country already supports a ban on civilian sales of the Barrett M82, Tennessee just gave it a big publicity boost with its Official State Gunhood.

I realize that gun enthusiasts and gun control advocates often end up speaking past each other, using different words for the same thing and furthering frustrations on both sides. So while the invention of the Barrett M82 might sound like a victory for the 2nd Amendment, I hope we can all agree that Tennessee's announcement is a massive defeat for common sense.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less