Feb. 23, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Embattled Queens/Long Island Congressman George Santos has sponsored a bill that would declare the AR-15 the “National Gun of the United States,” in one of his first legislative acts in Congress. The bill was originally sponsored by Arizona Republican Rep. Barry Moore on Feb. 17, with Santos and Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andrew Clyde of Georgia cosponsoring it.
The AR-15 has earned a lot of controversy in the United States over the last decade because it has been frequently used to commit mass shootings over the years. As a result, there has been a growing movement among citizens of the country as well as political figures to try and get the weapon banned.
Both Clyde and Boebert have been avid supporters of gun rights. Boebert owned and operated a gun-themed restaurant called “Shooters Grill” before running for Congress. Clyde was the owner of a gun store in Georgia.
Santos joining some of the more far-right leaning members of Congress in cosponsoring this bill has raised some red flags within his own state. In response to this, New York Governor Kathy Hochul released a statement criticizing Santos for this.
“It’s outrageous and appalling that New York Congressman Santos would attach his name to legislation that would designate the AR-15 as the ‘National Gun of the United States,” Hochul said. “This weapon of war has been used in mass shootings across the United States – from my hometown of Buffalo, where the shooter used a modified AR-15 to murder ten people in a despicable act of white supremacist terrorism, to Parkland, Florida, where the shooter killed 17 innocent people with an AR-15-style weapon. This bill, which attempts to glorify the weapons that have been part of such horrific tragedies, adds unforgivable insult to injury for those families. It should never become law and Congressman Santos should immediately remove his name from it, if he has any respect for New Yorkers.”
Hochul also mentioned that many of the survivors and families of victims of mass shootings like Parkland have since become gun control advocates. Such advocates include the family of former Dix Hills resident Scott Biegel-Schulman, who was a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when he was among the 17 killed in that 2018 mass shooting.
In addition to the 2018 Parkland and 2022 Buffalo shootings, the AR-15 has been used in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Rep. Santos had previously lied about four of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting being employees of his at the time.
The introduction of this bill comes as the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House consider bringing back an assault weapons ban that previously went into effect in 1994 before it expired a decade later. Despite the fact that many Republican senators and Congress members are opposed to stricter background checks, a majority of Americans and gun owners are in favor of such a policy