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Republicans Unveil Bill to Make AR-15-Style Rifle the “National Gun”

AR-15-style weapons have been used in some of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history.

Rep. Andrew Clyde listens to a question from a reporter during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on June 14, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

A House Republican has introduced a bill that would make the AR-15, which has been used in many of the nation’s most horrific mass shootings, the “National Gun of the United States,” positioning it alongside official symbols like the bald eagle and Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” in representing the U.S.

The bill was unveiled this week by gun store owner Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama. It has been cosponsored by Representatives Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia) and George Santos (R-New York). “We must send a message that we will meet every attack on any of our constitutional rights,” Moore said while unveiling the bill earlier this week, referring to the Second Amendment.

The AR-15 was used by the school shooter last year in Uvalde, Texas, to massacre 19 elementary school children and two teachers. It was used during the 2019 shooting in Parkland, Florida, to murder 17 students and educators. Of the roughly 24 guns that the 2017 Las Vegas shooter brought to the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, in which he massacred 60 people and injured hundreds, over a dozen were AR-15s.

The effects of AR-15 style guns are brutal. The AR-15 is a weapon built for war, designed and manufactured to shred human flesh. During the Vietnam War, the AR-15 left bodies of Vietnamese fighters looking as though they had been hit with an explosive, much like the bodies of the children killed in Uvalde, some of whom first-hand witnesses said were only identifiable through the clothing left intact on their ripped-apart flesh.

The bill is the latest Republican display of the party’s worship of guns and its attempts to normalize the violence the right is often associated with.

Earlier this month, during National Gun Violence Survivors Week, gun store owner and Georgia Republican Representative Clyde handed out pins shaped like assault rifles to fellow Republicans like Representative Santos, who wore them proudly as they conducted business in Congress that day.

When Democrats reacted with disgust, Clyde responded with a smug message, mocking them for being “triggered” over his idolatry of the gun. On the day that the Republicans wore the pins, there were at least two mass shootings.

Gun safety advocates condemned Representative Moore’s bill.

“After another week of heartbreaking mass shootings in America, extreme MAGA Republican [Rep. Barry Moore] introduced a bill to make AR-15s the ‘National Gun’ of the United States. It’s a slap in the face for all families/communities who have been devastated by mass shootings,” wrote Newtown Action Alliance, a gun safety group formed in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On the day that Moore filed his bill last Friday, a 52-year-old man in a rural community in Mississippi went on a shooting spree, killing six people, including his former partner. Just days earlier, a gunman opened fire at Michigan State University, killing three students and injuring five others. So far, in 2023, there have been at least 85 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an average of about 1.5 mass shootings per day.

Gun violence is on the rise. In recent years, firearms became the number one cause of death for children in the U.S., the only country in which this is a widespread problem. In 2020, 4,357 children were killed by firearms in the U.S.

Last year was also a record-breaking year for school shootings. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, there were 46 shootings at K-12 schools in 2022, breaking the previous record of 42 school shootings set in 2021.

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