Fact Check

Yes, a GOP Bill Would Make the AR-15 the 'National Gun'

And U.S. Rep. George Santos is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

Published Feb. 24, 2023

Updated Feb. 26, 2023
 (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/gop-lawmakers-ar-15-national-gun/)
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Claim:
In February 2023, U.S. Rep. Barry Moore, a Republican from Alabama, introduced a bill that would make the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle the "national gun of the United States."
Context

As of this writing, two of Moore's colleagues — Reps. Lauren Boebert and George Santos — are co-sponsoring the proposal, which has not been discussed or voted on, even at the committee level. Even if the legislation were to pass the House, it would not likely pass the Democratic-led Senate, or be signed by U.S. President Joe Biden, also a Democrat.

A Republican congressman from Alabama wants to designate a "national gun of the United States," and the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was his weapon of choice. Introduced in the U.S. House on Feb. 17, 2023, his bill has generated outrage for its stated goals as well as its sponsors, who include controversial lawmakers like Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. George Santos. 

On Feb. 21, 2023, Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama visited Family Firearms, a gun store in Troy, Alabama, to unveil the legislation that he sponsored. 

In a statement Moore said he was protecting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, the right to bear arms, against people who wanted to take away their firearms. He called it as important a right "as freedom of speech, religion, and the press." 

House records show a full text of the bill is not available yet. The text currently states:

As of 02/24/2023 text has not been received for H.R.1095 - To declare an AR-15 style rifle chambered in a .223 Remington round or a 5.56x45mm NATO round to be the National Gun of the United States.

Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from GPO, the Government Publishing Office, a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.

The bill has only been introduced into the House and referred to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. There has been no reading or hearing of its contents. Currently the Congressional website states: "A legislative analyst in the Congressional Research Service will begin analyzing this legislation after text becomes available." At this point it is far removed from becoming law, though we will update this post if anything changes. 

The three co-sponsors of the bill have also raised eyebrows. Among them is Boebert, a Republican lawmaker who owned a gun-themed restaurant. Santos, meanwhile, has been under scrutiny for lying numerous times about his life and career while on his campaign trail and is being investigated by federal and New York prosecutors. He has also been reportedly wearing an AR-15 lapel pin during his time in Washington, D.C. 

Political opponents, including advocates of stricter gun regulations, spoke out against the idea, framing it as inappropriate celebration of a deadly weapon used in mass shootings. Dozens of mass shootings have occurred across the U.S. in the first two months of 2023 alone, most recently in Memphis, Tennessee, where 10 were wounded and one killed from gun violence. In January 2023, a man began firing an AR-15-style rifle in a Target store in Nebraska, and was fatally shot by police as a result. No other injuries were reported in that incident. 

But what does it mean to designate something as "national"? The national floral emblem of the U.S. is a rose, for example, and the national bird is a bald eagle. These objects are largely symbolic in nature, used on logos, coins, flags, and more, and are intended to demonstrate the identity of a country or entity. There is currently no national gun in the U.S. But lawmakers have the power to adopt a national symbol, like they did with the rose. 

Given that the bill has been introduced in the House, though we do not know all the details yet, we rate the general claim as "True." 

Sources

"Alabama Congressman Introduces Bill to Make AR-15 the 'National Gun of America.'" CBS 42, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbs42.com/alabama-news/alabama-congressman-introduces-bill-to-make-ar-15-the-national-gun-of-america/.

"A NATIONAL FLOWER: ROSE IS VICTOR." The New York Times, 24 Sept. 1986. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/1986/09/24/us/a-national-flower-rose-is-victor.html.

Koplowitz, Howard. "Alabama Congressman's Bill Would Make AR-15 'National Gun of America.'" Al, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.al.com/politics/2023/02/alabama-congressmans-bill-would-make-ar-15-the-national-gun-of-america.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Ibrahim, Nur. "Was Rep. George Santos a Drag Queen in Brazil?" Snopes, 19 Jan. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/01/19/george-santos-drag-queen-brazil/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Liles, Jordan. "Was Lauren Boebert's Shooters Grill Replaced by a Mexican Restaurant?" Snopes, 28 Dec. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/boebert-mexican-restaurant/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Moore, Barry. "H.R.1095 - To Declare an AR-15 Style Rifle Chambered in a .223 Remington Round or a 5.56x45mm NATO Round to Be the National Gun of the United States." Congress.gov, 17 Feb. 2023. https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/1095. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

"National Symbol(s)." The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/field/national-symbols/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

"New Republican Bill Would Make the AR-15 the 'National Gun.'" MSNBC.Com, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/new-republican-bill-make-ar-15-national-gun-rcna72143. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Nix, Elizabeth. "How Did the Bald Eagle Become America's National Bird?" HISTORY, 30 Sept. 2021, https://www.history.com/news/how-did-the-bald-eagle-become-americas-national-bird. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

"Rep. George Santos Backs Bill to Make AR-15 Assault Rifle the "National Gun of the United States."" CBS News, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/newyork/news/george-santos-ar-15-assault-rifle-national-gun-of-the-united-states/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Victor, Daniel. "U.S. Mass Shootings in 2023: A Partial List." The New York Times, 20 Feb. 2023. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/article/mass-shootings-2023.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2023.

Updates

Feb. 23, 2023: The description of AR-15 was amended to "semi-automatic rifle."

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.