The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

GOP Rep. Clyde hands out assault-rifle lapel pins to House colleagues

Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) walks off the House floor for a television interview on Capitol Hill on Jan. 10. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
3 min

By his own acknowledgment, Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) has been handing out lapel pins shaped like assault rifles to fellow GOP lawmakers — an exercise that comes in the wake of a spate of mass shootings and during a week intended to honor survivors of gun violence.

Late Thursday, Clyde, who owns a gun store, tweeted a video about his efforts.

“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 the video. “Well, I give it out to remind people of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and how important it is in preserving our liberties.”

Clyde closed by sharing that there are plenty of pins available for those who want to come by his office.

The assault-rifle pins have angered Democrats, who began noticing them in recent days before they knew of their origin. On Wednesday, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) posted images of two GOP members of Congress — Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.) and George Santos (N.Y.) — sporting the assault-rifle pins on their lapels.

“Where are these assault weapon pins coming from?” Gomez asked. “Who is passing these out?”

Gomez also noted that Paulina Luna was wearing such a pin less than 48 hours after a mass shooting in her state wounded 11 people.

“This isn’t the flex you think it is,” Gomez tweeted.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) pointed out that GOP lawmakers were wearing the lapel pins during National Gun Violence Survivors Week. Dozens of mass shootings have already taken place across the country in 2023, outpacing previous years, according to data tracked by the Gun Violence Archive.

“Weapons of war have no place on our streets, much less on our lapels,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) declared.

Perhaps more than other GOP lawmakers, Clyde has downplayed the severity of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying that parts of it were comparable to a “normal tourist visit.”

Clyde also later voted against awarding police officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6 the Congressional Gold Medal, and refused to shake hands with Michael Fanone, one of the officers who had responded to the violence and was beaten unconscious during the attack.

Clyde’s distribution of the gun-shaped pins comes after newly elected Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) passed out dummy grenades stamped with the GOP logo last week 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 were inert.

Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.