Most Montanans haven't heard of Ed McGivern, but Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnet, would like to change that. During a State Administration Committee hearing on Valentine's Day, Harris presented House Bill 411, which would recognize, as Harris put it, "one of the most outstanding individuals in the history of the state."
Specifically, HB 411 seeks to recognize Lewistown as the "official home of The Ed McGivern Museum," and proposes a building be named in honor of McGivern at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
What's so special about McGivern? Harris is glad you asked. During the hearing, he explained that McGivern, who died in 1957, was a celebrated exhibition shooter who could fire "five shots from a double-action revolver in two-fifths of a second with all the shots landing in the area of a playing card." He went on to say McGivern could empty two double-action revolvers in less than two seconds, and that the Lewistown native wrote a book titled Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting.
At one point during the hearing, Harris deviated from his script in a flourish of excitement. He looked up from the podium, adjusted his glasses and chortled before saying: "If you didn't hear any of the rest of it, please pay attention to this sentence. [McGivern's] rate of fire is greater than the cyclical rate of the AK-47 automatic rifle. If you think about that for a minute, the country's arguing whether or not those fire too fast, but [McGivern] could fire faster."
Something politically antagonizing lurks under the surface of this statement, but finding contention in Harris' allusion is giving HB 411 too much credit. Just like in 2011, when Harris introduced HB 447 to make McGivern Montana's official state shooter and to establish Sept. 13 of each year Ed McGivern Day, HB 411 will go largely unnoticed whether it's passed or not. HB 447 died in committee. Action has yet to be taken on HB 411.
If you prescribe value to the ability to fire a gun rapidly, McGivern's feats are considerable. He is to exhibition pistol shooters what Lefty Kreh is to fly fishermen or Kane Waselenchuck is to racquet ballers: Transcendent, superlative and destined to be remembered in obscurity, because, like Kreh and Waselenchuck, he was really good at a sport nobody cares about. Nobody, that is, save for Rep. Bill Harris, who cares so much you might think all Montanans do.