Follow us on:

 Ensuring the conservation of mule deer,
black-tailed deer & their habitat. Learn more

Red, White & Blued Salute to Browning

Red, White & Blued Salute to Browning

By Mark LaBarbera
As we move into August, and memories of Fourth of July celebrations fade, it would be great if Mule Deer Foundation members and all Americans paused to reflect on the red, white and blued legacy of gunmaker and patriot John M. Browning.

As my buddy Scott Grange told me at the Browning museum in Ogden, Utah, “If it weren’t for John M., we would probably be speaking German in the United States, and we would not have our hunting or other freedoms.”    

Muley Nation, hats off to John M. Browning!  I just finished reading an illustrated biography of the man and his guns, so I know what Scott means. Mr. Browning invented the automatic rifle, pistol and shotgun.  He invented the modern machine gun.  He registered 128 patents on more than 80 unique firearms. Most of the guns we own--under brand names like Remington, Colt, Savage and especially Winchester—were invented in the mind and hands of John M. Browning and his family.

Some Muley Nation followers might not realize that his inventions, again and again, turned the tide in two world wars.  Delivery of his new guns at critical times helped the United States and its allies overcome powerful enemy forces. Our Independence Day celebrations might have been distant memories.  Our freedoms would have been a thing of the past. Dictators would rule. Hunting, conservation and wildlife would not be available to all ordinary citizens.
To me, the most remarkable historic fact in Browning’s legacy is that his patriotism and personal nature motivated him to be generous in his dealings with the U.S. government and military. 

Let me explain.
In 1917, an Army officer came to the Colt factory to negotiate a contract for Browning’s machine gun, “machine rifle,” and .45 automatic pistol for the duration of the war.  And they wanted John M. to oversee production in six factories, living for two years on the East Coast, far from family.  The officer acknowledged that the Army’s offer was a fraction of what Browning could make from royalties on orders already booked. Without hesitating, he agreed to accept the low offer.  It was later reported that he could have made about $12 million in standard royalties, but accepted $750,000.  Who do you know nowadays that would be so patriotic?
When the Secretary of War heard what Browning did, he wrote to the tall Mormon who grew up poor, one of 21 kids.  His letter said: “My dear Mr. Browning; I have learned from Major Little of the patriotic and generous attitude taken by you in the negotiations for the use of your patents of light and heavy machine guns in this emergency, and beg leave to express my appreciation of it.  You have performed, as you must realize, a very distinct service to this country in inventions, and contributed to the strength and effectiveness of our armies.  You have added to that service by the attitude you have taken in the financial arrangements necessary to have your inventions available to the government. Cordially yours, Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War.”

So, Muley Nation, as we leave July celebrations behind for another year and head into big game hunting seasons with our favorite Browning gun, join me in saluting America’s greatest gun-maker and patriot.
God bless America, and God bless the red, white and blued.
--© 2012 Mark LaBarbera,