March 11th, 2013
03:22 PM ET
1 year ago

Gabby Giffords' husband buys assault weapon

(CNN) – Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords and an outspoken advocate for new gun control measures, purchased an AR-15 assault rifle in Tucson recently as a demonstration of what he says are unobtrusive background checks.

The retired space shuttle commander wrote on his Facebook page he would turn in the weapon – which he said he hadn't yet obtained - to the city's police department.

"Looks like the judiciary committee will vote on background checks next week," Kelly wrote, referring to the Senate panel where gun control legislation is up for a vote this week.

"I just had a background check a few days ago when I went to my local gun store to buy a 45. As I was leaving, I noticed a used AR-15. Bought that too. Even to buy an assault weapon, the background check only takes a matter of minutes," he continued.

Later, on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," Kelly said it was "important for me to have firsthand knowledge about how easy it is or difficult it is to buy a weapon like that."

The AR-15 is one of America's top-selling firearms, and has become a focus of the gun control debate after being used in a recent spate of mass shootings. One was used in the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Advocates for tighter gun laws argue there's no need for Americans to own the powerful rifle, but the gun's proponents say the AR-15's accuracy makes it safe.

Aside from a measure bolstering background checks that's sponsored by New York Democrat Charles Schumer, the Senate Judiciary Committee this week will consider a ban on assault weapons that was introduced by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, which would outlaw the AR-15 among a host of other military-style weapons.

Last week the judiciary panel approved a bill toughening laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, but on the issue of background checks – which previously appeared poised for bipartisan support in the legislature – Republicans and Democrats have reached some sticking points.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have expressed support for expanding the scope of mental health information submitted to the federal background check system used by gun sellers, but some have expressed concern that records would be kept on responsible gun owners.

Bipartisan talks have also failed to reach a compromise that would address the "gun show loophole," which critics say provides an avenue for people who know they cannot pass a background check to obtain guns through private sales.

In his Facebook message about the AR-15 purchase, Kelly wrote it was "scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or the Internet.

"We really need to close the gun show and private seller loop hole," he concluded.

He added on CNN that he was "looking forward at some point to buying a gun at a gun show, and also possibly selling a gun."

Last week, Giffords support for background checks alongside her husband at a gun control rally in Tucson, Arizona, the same place where an assailant shot her in the head.

The former congresswoman urged lawmakers to "Be bold. Be courageous. Please support background checks."

At the event, Kelly said his newly formed gun-control organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, was sending a letter to U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Arizona Republicans, urging them to support background-check legislation. McCain suggested last month that such legislation would have success in the Senate.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords • Gun rights
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    BREAKING NEWS: Law Abiding Citizen's Right To Own A Gun Is Not Infringed
    ----------------------------
    In a move that has completely stunned the gun advocates and other elements of the right wing, "law abiding citizen" Mark Kelly was able to purchase guns after submitting to a swift background check. Furthermore, despite Arizona law that requires purchasers to sign a sworn statement that the purchase was for his personal use", he deomonstrated the benevolence provided by a loophole in the law, which allows for him to sell or give away the weapon after the sale is completed.

    What has escaped most critics of Mr. Kelly's actions is that he demonstrated that despite the signed statement at the time of the purchase, "straw purchases" are legal in Arizona. The law makes no provision nor sets a minimum time limit for how soon a purchaser may take to "change his mind" and decide to resell the weapon. Gun advocates in the past have noted that the loophole allows for guns to be purchased and given as gifts. But, Kelly demonstrates that the law also allows for straw purchases, leaving ATF agents powerless to stop someone from buying 30 rifles and selling them to someone waiting in the parking lot upon exiting the store.

    March 12, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    -ellid

    Why are people calling this man a liar? Or saying that this is a liberal plot? Are Americans really *that* paranoid?
    **********
    Because its easier than dealing with the truth, and yes, the Right wing in this country really is that paranoid.

    March 12, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. VBGUY

    From my understanding from much earlier reports, that Mr. Giffords purchased the AR15, but someone told the media. I am guessing that he was trying to purchase one for himself, then when the media found out and announced it, he then had to make up a lame excuse of the reason why. Currently the average cost of an AR15 is about $1500-2000 or more. Yeah like he is just going to donate the AR15 to the police and lose out on that amount of money.

    The other thing is he went through a lawful process of purchasing the AR15. They performed a background check on him and he was approved. So what was he trying to prove ??? How easy it is ??? If he had some item that would normally stop someone from purchasing a firearm and he still got approved, then I would understand, but he did not.

    March 12, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. v_mag

    The trouble with being a paranoid coward, as murder weapon hoarders are, is that it blinds those people to the facts. The facts are that there is no move to confiscate weapons, and it would be an impossible task to accomplish anyway.

    Another fact is that Americans kill each other with guns more than people in almost any country in the world. More people take their own lives with guns, and they do it because guns are right there in the drawer, and they don't take time to reconsider. More people get killed accidentally with guns here, and that includes a lot of children. A person who owns a gun is far more likely to be killed by it than to kill an intruder with it.

    I would be okay with it if the only people getting gunned down were the folks who stockpile guns. Unfortunately, a lot of innocent people get killed by legally bought guns. Sorry, but the rights of those innocent people to life are more important than a paranoid coward's right to hoard murder weapons.

    March 12, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. tubby

    Good now you he can go hog hunting with TED and control our environment ..and global warming

    March 12, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. stone

    Guns benn around for so long, before laws was passed on them! as long as guns are made, there will never be total contol and regulation on guns! The only resons kids go on killing sprees is because thier PARENTS don't enforce structure in the home. Be a parent and teach your kids the right way to act like humans! Stop letting kids play violent videos games, and watch scarface 100 times and protray that as positive.. just some examples! to the goverment.. we don't care about gun control ,gay rights, global warming, or immagration reform... WE WANT THE ECONOMY ON TRACK ... can you focus on putting money back in the pockets of Americans who pay taxes and work hard to support thier families all year?

    March 12, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. db

    " recently as a demonstration of what he says are unobtrusive background checks"............(yeah, right)

    *****************************************************************************************************************************

    Lets call it what it is. A hypocritical lair that doesn't want us to have an AR-15, but he has no problem having one for himself. Just another Democrat showing once again they are all about.....'do as I say, not as I do'.

    March 12, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. John john the pipers son

    Guns, what are thy good for, absolutely nothing, say it again.

    March 12, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Listen_UP!

    So he had the background check, he bought the gun, whats the point ?

    March 12, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. PaulG

    Obtaining an AR after passing NICS should be easy, it's nothing more than a semi-auto rifle. Not really sure what he is trying to prove other than an honorably discharge retired American astronaut, U.S. Navy Captain and naval aviator with no disqualifying history can purchase a firearm.

    March 12, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @JFlowers: What's hypocritical about Kelly buying an AR15? He is the one who publicized the event and yes, he did it to make the point that he (shock!) survived the required background check that didn't take very long.

    What's laughable is your need to try to disparage Cmdr. Kelly, a man who has served his country and concerned husband who has gone through a hell you can only imagine.

    March 12, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  12. v_mag

    Adam Corolla said about me, "many of us are simply not as tough or cool as you". Thanks, Adam. Quite a compliment for a guy who's over 60.

    Here's some more about me: I served 3 1/2 years in the Army during Vietnam, fired plenty of M16s, and I own a shotgun. I got the shotgun when I lived in the country and had a rattlesnake and predator problem. Now, it is locked in a closet, and I don't expect I'll ever need it again. Maybe soon I'll destroy it. I keep it locked there because I love my grandkids, and I would never allow fear or fascination with weapons to put them in danger. I prioritize them over anything. Do you value America's children, or only weapons?

    March 12, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. roger

    Background checks will not keep the punks and mentally ill people from getting guns. To keep the punks from using guns you need to make the punishment so horrendous that these morons won't want to take a chance. Of course the bleeding heart liberals will stop that from ever happening so let's just forget about gun control.

    March 12, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Why do they keep saying that an AR-15 was used in CT.? He left the AR in the car in favor of a Glock and a Sig Sauer handgun...... I think that pretty much demonstrates that when given a choice, he opted out of the AR 15....

    March 12, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. Ed

    If he fails to surrender the weapons to police, he'll be a liar. If he does surrender them, he'll be a fool who spent around $3000 to tell us what we already knew – background checks for law-abiding citizens are quick and painless.

    March 12, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  16. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @VBGUY: "From my understanding from much earlier reports, that Mr. Giffords purchased the AR15, but someone told the media. I am guessing that he was trying to purchase one for himself, then when the media found out and announced it, he then had to make up a lame excuse of the reason why .... So what was he trying to prove ??? How easy it is ???"

    So you're a mind reader? More like someone transcribing Rush's latest spew ... and yes, Kelly was trying to prove how easy it is to be background checked before purchasing a weapon – in answer to the common whine by short-membered men who whine about how emasculating it is to have to go through a background check before they purchase their compensating "device".

    March 12, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  17. Levi

    It's easy to come out and say he did it to get "firsthand experience" AFTER he was caught buying it.

    What a sad little liar.

    March 12, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. Dave

    Do you really believe the spin?

    March 12, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Nick-o

    JFlowers: All the hubbub is because Kelly had just finished testifying before Congress that no one should have an AR15, then went out and bought one. Oh, the whole "I did it to prove a point" story sounds good, but it did not come into existance until after it had been discovered and publiced that he had bought the rifle. So basically most of America now think he is full of HorsePoop.

    Response: Isn't that Giffords on camera? I don't know many people having snapshots of themselves signing papers unless it's for publicity.

    March 12, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Since Rant Paul's 13 hour escapade on the floor of congress, rogue states and terrorist regimes abroad have implemented a new foreign policy strategy to deter America from attacking them with drones. Their new policy is to abduct Americans and use them as human shield. Thanks for empowering the enemy Rant Paul.

    March 12, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "All the hubbub is because Kelly had just finished testifying before Congress that no one should have an AR15, then went out and bought one. Oh, the whole "I did it to prove a point" story sounds good, but it did not come into existance until after it had been discovered and publiced that he had bought the rifle. "

    First, that's nonsense from Breitbart and Drudge and their spin amchines. Second, you even have their ridiculous spin wrong. They're claiming, and it's oh-so-convenient, that Kelly released the statement on Facebook that he intended to turn the AR-15 in to the police after receiving it BEFORE it could be publicized taht he was buying one. They claim that he was trying to "head them off at the pass because he knew that we were going to publicize it." So no...it's not "in response to" publicization of him buying an AR-15 that he is giving it to the police. He stated it FIRST and now Breitbart and other radicalized conservative spin machines are making the ludicrous claim that he only did because he found out they were going to "reveal his hypocrisy to the world." Breitbart's claim is too cute by a mile and far too convenient and unproveable to be anything but them spewing anger that they didn't get to miscaharacterize what was happening.

    March 12, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. 111Dave111

    BoThome: "FYI – the 19,000 suicides by gun ARE NOT gun violence. These same people have or would tried other methods of suicide, and were intent on dying regardless of the tool used. For example, Mindy McCready (former country star) tried to kill herself multiple times (slit wrists, drug OD) before finally taking her boyfriend's idea of suicide by gun to end her life."
    Wow.
    #1 Mindy McCready failed to kill herself multiple times, until she made a mess on her front porch, for someone else to cleanup.
    #2 If you think one should have a right to commit suicide, pills in a 'clinic' would be better.
    #3 19,000 suicides by gun are a lot of gun deaths, many of them avoidable, many of them young people.

    March 12, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "Why do they keep saying that an AR-15 was used in CT.?"

    Because it was. All police and officials invovled have confirmed, as amatter fo public record, that it was the Bushmaster AR-15 that was used. Their statements confirming it were all over the news at the time. There is absolutely no doubt about it and all you're doing is regurgitating a conspiracy instigated by the NRA and gun nuts in an attempt to disinform the public. Congrats on falling for it.

    March 12, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Sniffit

    "These same people have or would tried other methods of suicide,"

    And maybe failed insead.

    March 12, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. ammonimous

    An ar15 was found in the trunk of the newtown killers car. It was never used as cnn articles always say the opposite. Kelly got caught trying to get several guns, knowing if he gets his way, that will be illegal to buy shortly. And just like i would, surprise a non violent, law abbiding citizen was able to pass a back ground check, duh. How about have a felon go and get a gun, that would proven more and not make him look like such a hypocrite.

    March 12, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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