Montana state Republicans introduced a bill in the legislature to designate the Winchester Model 1873 as the state rifle and honor it as “the gun that won the west.” However, Native American legislators objected to the legislation pointing out that American Indians couldn’t honor a weapon that had brought devastation to their people. The Democratic Native American lawmakers pointed out that this gun carries bad memories for American Indians. The Republican-led House defeated the bill 61-39.
Republican Edward Greef supported the legislation saying:
“The rifle is a symbol of this historical era. I urge you not to look at the rifle as a weapon, but as a symbol of a place in time.”
Democrat Carolyn Pease-Lopez said:
“For me this is not so much in the past. I must rise in opposition of celebrating such a weapon as this that brought devastation to my people.”
Carolyn Pease-Lopez is shown above.
The lever-action rifle could fire rounds more rapidly than earlier rifles. The rifle was never adopted by the military. Over 720,000 of the rifles were manufactured by Winchester for civilian use and these were commonly used in slaughtering both the buffalo and Indians.