Rep. George Santos, shown previously wearing his AR-15 lapel pin, was...

Rep. George Santos, shown previously wearing his AR-15 lapel pin, was not available for comment Thursday on his efforts to make the weapon the national gun of the United States. Credit: Los Angeles Times / Kent Nishimura via Getty Images

An AR-15 rifle would be the "national gun of the United States" under a bill co-sponsored by Rep. George Santos, prompting Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday to accuse him of glorifying a weapon used in numerous mass shootings nationwide.

The bill, introduced last Friday by Santos and Rep. Barry Moore, an Alabama Republican and staunch gun rights advocate, bears the title, "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." The text for the bill is not yet available.

Leading up to the introducing the legislation, Santos had taken to the floor of the House of Representatives sporting an AR-15 pin on his jacket lapel. The freshman Republican, who represents parts of Nassau and Queens, has yet to comment on the bill. An inquiry to his office was not answered Thursday.

The governor, a Democrat, told Newsday in an interview Thursday that Santos' proposal is an insult to those people killed and wounded in mass shootings and their families.

"That is so abhorrent," Hochul said, "especially from a representative from New York, especially from a representative from Long Island, which is home to one of the victims of the Parkland shooting."

Hochul was referring to Scott J. Beigel, a Dix Hills native and geography teacher who was among the 17 people killed on Feb. 14, 2018, when a gunman armed with an AR-15 opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Said Moore last week in a tweet about his bill to name the rifle as the national gun: "The #SecondAmendment is as American a right as freedom of speech, religion, & the press. Today I unveiled my bill to make the AR-15 the National Gun of America. We must send a message that we will meet every attack on any of our constitutional rights."

Two other Republicans also co-sponsored the bill: Rep. Andrew Clyde from Georgia, and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

AR-15-style rifles have become among the most popular and controversial weapons in the United States.

Promoted as "America's rifle" by the National Rifle Association, it is used for hunting, from small to big game, as well as target shooting and national shooting matches.

It's also been the weapon of choice in multiple mass shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting and the grade school mass shooting last year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

The governor said Thursday that Santos needs to start paying attention to his district.

"I think it's disgusting that he would not focus on issues that are important to Long Island" but instead be held "captive to the far right extremists and white supremacists who all want us to be toting AR-15s."

With Cecilia Dowd 

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