SALT LAKE CITY — Except for a few Democratic jabs, the Utah Senate overwhelmingly approved the Browning M1911 semiautomatic pistol as the state firearm without debate Wednesday.

"This is an opportunity for us to lead out and be innovative as a state," said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, the Senate sponsor of HB219.

The Senate preliminarily passed the bill 19-6, with Democrats casting all the dissenting votes. It still faces a final vote, though barring something unforeseen, it will easily pass. The House approved the measure last month.

Other than Madsen, Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, was the only senator to speak about the measure.

"I rise on this bill and wonder why," he said. "Usually all of these designations come to us from elementary schoolchildren."

Utah already has 24 state symbols including a cooking pot, dinosaur and vegetable, several of them brought to the Legislature by school classes.

Davis went on say why not emblazon a gun on the state flag or arm the bees on the flag. He noted that Mozambique is the only country flag he could find that has a gun on it, an AK-47.

"I love some of the suggestions you made, ideas for future bills," Madsen replied.

Madsen said the state gun "represents the freedom-loving culture of Utah." In addition, he said, it recognizes a pioneer and innovator, John M. Browning.

An Ogden native, Browning is one of the most important figures in the development of modern automatic and semi-automatic firearms and is credited with 128 gun patents.