With the recent appearance of AR-15 pins on the lapels and ties of several members of Congress, the right’s Second Amendment shtick is looking less like a principled stand and more like product placement than ever.
After Rep. Jimmy Gomez called out the disturbing trend on the House floor, other Democrats in Congress joined in his disgust. Cori Bush pointed out that Republicans were wearing the pins during Gun Violence Survivors Week. Dina Titus tweeted, “Weapons of war have no place on our streets, much less on our lapels.” David Cicilline, who reintroduced the bill to ban assault weapons the same week his colleagues were flaunting them, asked the question on all our minds: “What is wrong with you?”
Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde was quick to take credit for the extremely questionable fashion statement. “I hear that this little pin that I’ve been giving out on the House floor has been triggering some of my Democratic colleagues,” he said in a video message. “Well, I give it out to remind people of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and how important it is in preserving our liberties.”
The back-and-forth led to headlines like HuffPost’s punny take, Democrats Go Ballistic Over Assault Rifle Lapel Pins Worn By GOP Lawmakers. Unfortunately, this was probably exactly what Clyde, a veteran of cheap inflammatory rhetoric, was going for: a reaction.
You might think the party that takes the Second Amendment so seriously would take the guns themselves seriously. Instead, weapons of war are a way to bait their political adversaries. They’re a fun prop for the family Christmas card, no different from Santa hats or matching PJs.
If triggering the libs was the goal, maybe the more appropriate response would have been an eye roll, but the disturbing trend on the right of fetishizing gun ownership is more than offensive. It’s dangerous to be so glib about something that can kill dozens of people in minutes.
The problem is that more gun owners seem to treat guns—not the pins, but the actual guns!—as fashion accessories. As laws become laxer, it’s become commonplace in some parts of the country to find yourself standing in line at the grocery store behind some dude with a handgun sticking out the back of his pants, or even to see someone parading around in public with an AR-15 strapped to his back.
Let’s be real: It’s unlikely they’re wearing these weapons because they’re planning to go hunting later that day or because they’re expecting a gunfight at Trader Joe’s. Nope, they like the look and the statement they think it makes. Like a MAGA hat that can kill.
Republican politicians pushing this disturbing trend have taken gobs of money from the NRA, and their commitment to the Second Amendment has worked like an extremely effective advertising campaign. There are more guns than people in this country. In the case of Clyde, who owns the fourth largest gun store in Georgia, he is literally in it to sell guns.
Meanwhile, firearms have recently become the leading cause of death for children and teens. But how do you even begin to talk about some basic reforms to address that with a party that’s obsessed with both kinds of triggers?
The seriousness of the gun culture problem is clear to Gomez, founding member of the Congressional Dads Caucus and aka the congressman who started his term by wearing his baby to work—clearly demonstrating where his own priorities lie.
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This was beautiful Admin. Thank you for your reflections.