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GOP Rep. Cory Mills hands out dummy grenades to House members

Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this month. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Newly elected Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) passed out grenades Thursday to other members of Congress, along with a note on his office letterhead emphasizing that the ordnance was made in Florida.

“I am honored to be a part of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees,” Mills wrote. “In that spirit, it is my pleasure to give you a 40mm grenade, made for a MK19 grenade launcher. These are manufactured in the Sunshine State and first developed in the Vietnam War.”

At the bottom of the letter was a postscript noting that the grenades are inert.

Accompanying the letter was a grenade stamped with the GOP logo, according to a photograph posted on Twitter by Daily Mail reporter Morgan Phillips.

A representative for Mills confirmed that the photo was accurate.

“Per the letter, the grenades are inert, and were cleared through all security metrics,” Mills spokesman Juan Ayala said in an email. “I just wish they tagged our official account.”

After the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, metal detectors were installed outside the House floor for the first time, though some GOP lawmakers made a point of regularly flouting them. The metal detectors were removed earlier this month, at the start of the 118th Congress, as the Republican majority exercised its newfound power.

Mills won election to represent Florida’s 7th Congressional District in November, flipping the seat formerly held by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a member of the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Mills, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump, could not be more different from Murphy. He is among several new House members who deny that President Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election. A veteran and defense contractor, Mills also bragged in his campaign that he “sold tear gas used on Black Lives Matter protesters.”

Visitors to the Capitol are prohibited from bringing firearms, weapons and explosive devices. Lawmakers are exempt from the ban on carrying guns on the Capitol grounds thanks to 1967 Capitol Police Board regulations.

Members of Congress may keep guns in their offices and can transport them within the complex if the weapons are “unloaded and securely wrapped.” But they cannot bring guns into the House and Senate chambers.

In the weeks after the Jan. 6 attack, House Democrats revived a bill to ban their colleagues from carrying guns on Capitol grounds.

“When I brought this up with colleagues in the past, most were surprised to know that members could do whatever they wanted with guns,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said then. “But I think there has been a false sense of security that nothing bad would happen. The events of recent days have totally changed that.”

Meagan Flynn and Amber Phillips contributed to this report.