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New Republican bill would make the AR-15 the ‘national gun’

We already have a national anthem, a national flag and national holidays, but we don't have a national gun. Some Republicans hope to change that.


Earlier this month, Rep. Andrew Clyde thought it’d be a good idea to hand out small gifts to his congressional colleagues. As trinkets go, this one was designed to get attention: The Georgia Republican handed out lapel pins shaped like assault rifles.

The fact that Clyde did this in the wake of deadly mass shootings, and during National Gun Violence Survivors Week, added a dash of unnecessary callousness to his stunt.

But as it turns out, the Georgian wasn’t the only one thinking along these lines. The Alabama Media Group reported this week:

From “The Star Spangled Banner” to the hamburger, the United States has a number of official national symbols. An Alabama congressman’s bill would add another: a national gun. Rep. Barry Moore visited a Troy gun shop on Tuesday to unveil legislation making the AR-15 the “National Gun of America.”

In other words, the United States already has a national anthem, a national flag and national holidays, but we do not have an official national gun. A Republican congressman in Alabama hopes to change that.

This is now an actual piece of pending federal legislation —  H.R.1095 — and as of this morning, the bill has three co-sponsors. In fact, the trio of GOP lawmakers who’ve signed on to Moore’s proposal makes the story just a bit more outlandish: The co-sponsors include Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a right-wing lawmaker known for having run a gun-themed restaurant; the aforementioned Andrew Clyde; and Rep. George Santos of New York, whom you’ve probably heard of.

To be sure, there is no scenario in which Moore’s bill will become law, at least not anytime soon. This is legislative trolling, intended to be outrageous. If your instinct is to be disgusted by politicians who’d respond to mass shootings by celebrating the weapon used in too many of the slayings then the Republicans championing this bill are no doubt delighted.

Generating outrage is the point. It's why the list of GOP co-sponsors is likely to grow.

So why not ignore it? In part because efforts like these tell us something important about Republican politics: Members like Moore and his cohorts seem to realize that stunts like these will elevate them in the eyes of their party. The path to far-right celebrity status is paved with dumb bills that create fundraising opportunities and appearances in conservative media.

But I was also struck by something my MSNBC colleague Alex Wagner said on the air this week, questioning whether a bill to make the AR-15 the “national gun” is necessary: “Do we need a piece of legislation to tell us that the AR-15 is the national gun of America? Nearly every mass shooting in this country shows us that it already is — and there is almost nothing that Congress has done so far that will change that.”