Gunning for Profit: When Lawmaking Crosses the Line

Imagine a lawmaker who owns a chain of candy stores actively working against laws that could limit sugar consumption. Sounds questionable, right? Now, amplify the stakes and swap candy stores for gun stores. This isn’t a wild fictional plot but the reality of GOP Congressman Andrew Clyde.

Andrew Clyde isn’t just any Republican representative from Georgia; he’s also the proud owner of two gun stores in his state. Now, if owning a business and serving the public seemed like a tricky tightrope to walk, Clyde’s recent actions might just make you feel like he’s not even trying to balance.

A recent complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sheds light on some ethically murky waters. They allege that Clyde has been actively proposing bills that would pad his gun store profits, a clear violation of House rules.

Case in point: Clyde put forward legislation aiming to do away with recent restrictions on firearm accessories, specifically pistol braces. For context, these braces, which convert pistols into shoulder-fired weapons akin to rifles, have been sold in Clyde’s stores and have found their way into some infamous incidents.

But the story doesn’t stop with these accessories. Clyde also tried to put a lid on the funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), preventing them from enforcing the new restrictions. Talk about vested interests!

CREW was quick to point out that House regulations explicitly state that members should steer clear of actions, such as proposing legislation, that intersect with their financial interests.

CREW’s president, Noah Bookbinder, didn’t mince words about Clyde’s alleged infractions. “Is he prioritizing his own profits over public service and public safety?” Bookbinder asked, stressing the need for decisions rooted in the best interests of the American public, not a personal bank account.

But Clyde’s pro-gun enthusiasm isn’t just limited to legislation. Remember the spurt of Republican lawmakers donning AR-15 lapel pins after a series of mass shootings? Yep, that was Clyde’s initiative, a fact he gleefully admitted to, saying it “triggered” his Democratic peers.

Moreover, Clyde’s knowledge on specific gun-related programs, which he displayed while questioning the ATF Director, was eerily detailed. A detail worth noting? More than 25 guns from Clyde’s store were linked to criminal activity, landing him on an ATF watchlist.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) wasn’t shy about calling out Clyde’s questionable ethics, tweeting, “Clyde is abusing his position to benefit himself & his store.”

Millennials, raised in an era advocating transparency and accountability, will find such intertwining of personal gain and public duty problematic. As we fight for change, being informed about such alleged abuses of power is crucial. If the allegations are true, it’s a stark reminder that some might be more interested in loading their pockets than in safeguarding their constituents.