GOP Congress members want to celebrate the semi-automatic weapons that have continued to be used in mass shootings across the country.
Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama and three of his fellow GOP House members on Tuesday introduced a bill "To declare an AR-15 style rifle chambered in a .223 Remington round or a 5.56x45mm NATO round to be the National Gun of the United States."
The AR-15-style rifle is a semi-automatic weapon that's been used in multiple mass shootings across the country in the past few years.
"Today I unveiled my bill to make the AR-15 the National Gun of America," Moore tweeted. "We must send a message that we will meet every attack on any of our constitutional rights."
Moore's co-sponsors are Reps. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and George Santos of New York. Santos was among House members spotted wearing a pin in the shape of an AR-15 that Clyde had passed out to his Republican colleagues. Clyde said in a video shared on his Twitter account that he hands them out "to remind people of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and how important it is in preserving our liberties."
Advocates against gun violence, including Newtown Action Alliance and Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action, noted that Clyde has a stake worth between $5 million and $25 million in a gun store and, according to his 2021 financial disclosure, earns millions of dollars in income from the enterprise.
AR-15-style rifles were used in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022; at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, in July 2022; at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018; at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018; at a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017; and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, among others.
Gun law reform groups slammed the bill.
"The AR-15 was not promoted as the ultimate expression of the 2nd Amendment until the gun industry politicized it after Sandy Hook, when it was used to kill innocent children," Giffords Courage, the gun reform group started by mass shooting survivor and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, tweeted. "Make no mistake—this cruel proposal is offensive to responsible gun owners & non-gun owners alike."
President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers have worked, so far unsuccessfully, to enact an assault weapons ban.
Speaking to the press on Nov. 24, 2022, in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, two days earlier, Biden called for an assault weapons ban: "The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers. … I'm going to try to get rid of assault weapons."
The Democratic-controlled House had passed an assault weapons ban in July; however, the bill died in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Experts say that a ban could help prevent mass shootings, citing a decline after Congress passed an assault weapons ban in 1994.
Polling shows a majority of voters support an assault weapons ban: A Gallup poll from June 2022 shows 55% of respondents support such a ban.
"Americans are tired of seeing Republican legislators walk around with AR-15 pins on their lapels one week and experiencing another mass shooting the next," Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) tweeted on Feb. 17. "They've had enough of the far-right excuses and gun lobby talking points. They want action — they want to protect our kids."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.