Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Sig Sauer.

What’s the Deal With This 9 mm Handgun Casually Engraved With the Word STAND?

Exciting news from the world of guns: New Hampshire–based firearms manufacturer Sig Sauer has issued a new 9 mm handgun with the word STAND emblazoned along the slide.* The special-edition P938 also features a laser-engraved American flag “draped” over the top, and another flag image on the grip.

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How to interpret this mysterious rune? Is it red America’s version of the Apple Watch reminder to stand up and move around every hour? Is it a reference to a work of literature by Stephen King or Teresa Giudice? A tribute to the 30th anniversary of a hit from R.E.M.’s major-label debut?

The company itself says the handgun is meant to “inspire patriotism” and to give gun owners a way to “show your unwavering support for the flag and for America’s National Anthem.” Nothing shows “unwavering support” for a political opinion like purchasing a themed gun, which is why I have a rifle etched with the words PAID FAMILY LEAVE.

In a promotional video for the new weapon, a Sig Sauer representative says, “The STAND is the obvious choice to represent the heritage and tradition of American citizens who proudly stand for our great American flag.” OK! An unspecified portion of the proceeds will be donated to an organization that works with wounded veterans and to another that helps families and co-workers of police officers killed on duty. (Last year, 46 police officers were fatally shot in the line of duty, a near-record low; police shot and killed 967 people, including 68 who were unarmed.)

Meanwhile, for some reason firearms aficionados have read a more specific meaning into the P938’s enigmatic design. Gun blogs are touting the weapon as a “dig at those in the NFL who have spent the last year attempting to derail our patriotism” and “a swipe at anthem-kneelers.” “Why engrave ‘STAND’ on the slide? Who doesn’t stand for our country or what it represents?” a writer at the Firearm Rack asks. “Well, NFL players come immediately to mind.” Meanwhile, some #patriots online have enthused that purchasing the $815 weapon is a good way to trigger the libs.

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Listen, it would be condescending to everyone to spend much time explaining why the libs might be triggered by the existence of a firearm that essentially shouts a politically charged command at whomever it points. For what it’s worth, Colin Kaepernick, cited by name in a few references online to the P938, has said that he received death threats for kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The gun is also ugly.

Correction, Feb. 9, 2018: This story originally misstated that the word STAND is located on the gun’s ejection port. It is located on the slide.

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