Why Some Congressmen Wear AR-15 Assault Rifle Pins

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Republicans were seen wearing AR-15 lapels to show their support for the Second Amendment. Photo Credits – L: Kent Nishimura – Los Angeles Times/Getty Images; C: Alex Brandon-AP; D: Anna Moneymaker-Getty Images

Some Republican members of Congress are wearing controversial new lapels in the form of miniature AR-15 rifles. They say the pins are symbols of their commitment to the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. Enthusiastically distributed by Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, the rep. George Santos of New York and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida were spotted wearing the pins last week.

But Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocates were quick to denounce the flashy decorations as tone-deaf and disrespectful to the victims of gun violence in America. AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles have been used in most high-profile mass shootings in recent years, including at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn.; and the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas.

Reporters surround Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as he enters the chamber of the House of Representatives to vote Tuesday, January 31, 2023 in Washington, DC. Kent Nishimura-Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

“Rather than addressing gun violence and taking action to save lives, certain members of Congress have decided that displaying AR-15 rifles days after multiple mass shootings is a clever way to support the Second Amendment rights,” Adzi Vokhiwa, director of federal affairs for Giffords, a gun control advocacy group, said.

“In reality, this statement is an insult to the victims of Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, Uvalde, Parkland, Buffalo and countless other mass shootings across our country,” adds Vokiwa. In less than two months of 2023, the United States has already recorded at least 54 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive research group.

Democratic Representative Jimmy Gonzalez of California started the debate on the pins on February 1st. tweet Photos of Santos and Luna getting dressed and asking where they are from. Gonzalez pointed out that Luna wore the pin less than 48 hours after a mass shooting occurred in her home state of Florida, where 11 people were injured. “That’s not the flex you’re thinking of,” he said he tweeted.

Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) during the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.Tom Williams – CQ-Appeal, Inc./Getty Images

Clyde, owner of the Clyde Armory gun shop in Athens, Georgia, soon took credit for distributing the pins and invited other representatives to get in touch if they wanted one.

“I heard this little needle I put around the house freaks out some of my fellow Democrats,” Clyde said as he flashed one of the pistol needles in one. Video He posted on Twitter on February 2nd. “Well, I’m putting it up to remind people of the Second Amendment to the Constitution and how important it is to maintain our freedoms.”

Clyde Armory sells a wide range of semi-automatic rifles, including many AR-15 variants. The Congressman’s stake in the company is worth up to $25 million, according to his 2021 federal financial disclosure.

Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) during a session of the 118th Congress on Friday, January 6, 2023, in Washington, DC. Jabin Botsford – The Washington Post/Getty Images

Representatives from both sides of the political spectrum jumped to defend their beliefs this week as the pin debate unfolded. “Weapons of war have no place on our streets, let alone on our lapels,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-NY) he tweeted on Thursday. Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Barry Moore from Alabama he tweeted: “Save a pin for me!”

It is unclear whether the pins will appear in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.


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