March 11th, 2013
03:22 PM ET
5 years 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. John

    That statement came after he got cought buying it along with 45 caliber pistol. 45 caliber is also called a "man stopper" due to significant tissue damage it causes. Btw , what he is saying is like a vegetarian ordering dozen chesburgers to make point. Yeah whatever... Liar

    March 11, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Ray

    Its always the same with the "lib" side. The concept is Ok–why shouldn't a private sale be like a gun store sale and require a background check?? Sounds good . But what if I want to sell a gun to my brother or give my son his first shotgun? What about my lifelong friend or fellow gun club member who already has a sizeable collection? I am not talking about a private sale to a stranger. Oh,and then I hear they want to add a registry. Why does every gun control scheme focus on the legimate owner population? Go catch a bad guy !!!

    March 11, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. DemocratsvsRepublicans

    Gabby's husband DID NOT buy an "assault weapon" he bought a semi automatic pistol and a semi automatic rifle.

    Get your facts right.

    March 11, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "But what if I want to sell a gun to my brother or give my son his first shotgun?"

    Then they should get background checks. We don't trust your judgment in that regard, and we don't give a crap that it's your relative or friend.

    March 11, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Proud to Be American

    Mark Kelly is one of the true American Heroes alive today. I admire the man, his wife, and his courageoust work trying to protect the American public from NRA sponsored terrorism.

    March 11, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "So it is okay for him to own an AR-15 but the rest of America cannot.... Bull squat. I am sorry for what happened to his wife but they cannot be duplicitous."

    2nd sentence of the article makes you look real dumb right now.

    March 11, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. David ATL

    Do you think the enforcement problem could have anything to do with the fact that ATF has had its' budget cut so severely during the Bush administration? Nah, couldn't be.
    No, I don't think it is due to a lack of funding.
    Furthermore, I would like to see an extremely aggressive enforcement of firearm laws at the local level by local law enforcement. In high crime areas like Chicago, why not use the stop and question (and frisk) tactic that New York City has been using? New York City has greatly reduced its crime rate. Chicago is out of control.

    March 11, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. yup

    "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."

    The rifle was in the trunk of the car and NOT used in the shooting. People are so narrow minded and focusing on something that isnt even there. Guns/rifles dont kill people. People kill people. The firearm is just a tool. I seem to remember someone telling me "you are more likely to be killed by a hammer then a firearm in the US."

    March 11, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. OUC

    Sonny Chapman, you are as clueless, as Biden. Shotgun, really??? What do you do after your fire the two shots and the crooks decide they aren't leaving? How fast can you reload? Or how about when the police come to take you away, because if you new anything, it's illegal to fire warning shots. Clueless. All you people are the same, never a gun owner, never fired one, or never even held one, yet your experts on gun control now. What Utopian reality do you live in?

    March 11, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "@Sniffitt....I thought that your post was spot on until I read the drivel posted by @Pete. I guess mindless vitriol spews from both sides of the argument."

    What's "mindless vitriol" about correctly predicting that gun nuts would read nothing but the headline and then incorrectly claim Kelly is a hypocrite for buying an AR-15 (as if he wants to keep it) even though he supports a ban on assault weapons and will be turning the AR-15 in to the police after he gets it? Look at their posts. They proved me right.

    March 11, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. Pete

    @John,Mark Kelly never said he was against guns nitwit,just wanted better,more strengent ways of buying ,controlling them called gun control not what the NRA wants and he's a member right..You're as delushional as Donna here and yah better read the response I gave that republican nut job like yourself who probibly doesn't know jack about guns anyway do yah!!Just another republican parrot screaming in the fan liking his own voice right!!

    March 11, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Seriously

    Right..... Proving an astronut with top secret government clearances can pass a background check in a matter of minutes. Sure...... Did I forget to mention most Americans fall of the turnip truck on a daily basis. Total loser hypocrite. Wants all Americans rights taken away except for his. Forgot he's a rich elitist, unlike ordinary law abiding American citizens who don't deserve rights except for when permitted by rich hypocrite elitist's. Glad to see he enjoys his guaranteed second amendment rights. Whatever happened to intentionally lying on the background check. He tried to explain himself after being caught saying he was intending to buy a used AR15 for the police department. Great. That qualifies as a straw purchase. Don't see him enjoying the same rights as criminals who lie on background checks, get caught and go to jail. Almost forgot again, he's a rich elitist he's above the law. He's nothing but a slimy hypocrite who hides behind his disabled wife.

    March 11, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Vastly Amused

    It is vastly amusing- in that train wreck fashion- watching the Gun-Ban lobby and their mindless followers advance baseless, emotional arguments to justify imposing their political agenda on the rest of us.
    This is because there is no reasonable, empirical argument for banning either what are incorrectly called "assault rifles" or high-cap magazines. These firearms are not commonly used in crime (less than 2% of ALL firearm related crime, less than 1% of violent firearm related crime- stats courtesy of the federal DOJ) and are no more "deadly" than any other firearm.
    In fact, can any of you mindless regurgitators of Josh Sugarmann's propaganda explain what one means when one says such a thing? How about "military-grade weaponry"? "Weapons of war"? I doubt it, for these (and in the case of latter two terms, highly incorrect) are EMOTIONAL terms, designed to support a lie.
    And that, folks, is NOT my opinion: it is fact. If you doubt it- do some research. Sugarmann is infamous for urging the use of such misleading language, for urging the gun-ban lobby to lie and confuse the American people about this type of firearm- the military-looking semi-auto.
    Or remain mindless sheep.

    March 11, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. The Elephant in the Room

    Regulate the ammo purchases. It is akin to the guerilla tactics Big Government Republicans are using to attack abortion rights on the state level.

    Make gun shops report ammo purchases; put limits on the amount that can be purchased. Require gun ranges report on rounds used per session.

    March 11, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Linda

    Kelly bought the AR-15 to demonstrate how quick & easy it is to go through the background check. He didn't buy it to keep it and use it–he said as much in the article. He's turning it in to the police. I think it should be more difficult to buy guns at gun shows but I really don't want anyone telling me what I can buy!

    March 11, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Mel

    What was he buying the .45 for?
    He passed the background check. I have no problem with him buying the .45.
    But shouldn't the fact that he bought a gun render him an evil, crazy, paranoid demon to the all of the whiny liberals?

    March 11, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Willie

    "the background check only takes a matter of minutes" "he would turn in the weapon, which he said he had'nt YET OBTAINED" "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- WHICH HE HADNT YET OBTAINED I guess he means the paperwork only takes a matter of minutes. Unless he's just trying to mislead you into thinking the INSTANT backround check really only takes minutes like it was supposed to when the NRA agreed with them. It now takes many days before you can go back and pick the weapon up here in NJ and thats after months of waiting for the permit to buy.

    March 11, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. tubby

    That how it works,now have the bad guy do the same..

    March 11, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Mike

    He gives testmony in Colorado on March 4 urging the ban on "assault weapons", then on March 5 he buys a 1911 and a AR-15 at Diamond Back. It wasnt until 5 days later that he posted on Facebook, after the photos of his purchase surfaced, that he announced on Facebook that it was to make a point and that he is turning the gun over to TPD?

    So why didnt he walk out with the weapon? Could it be that he was spotted buy it? By the way there are is no waiting period in Arizona.

    March 11, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    His "assault rifle" is a semi-automatic 22 rifle much like the one i shot rabbits and tin cans with when I was a farmboy many years ago. It is just loaded up with gaudy garbage by the gunmaker in order to make it look military.

    March 11, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. Think

    All the "evil AR-15" crap is getting old. Feinstein's own webpage telling us why we need to reinstate the "assault weapons" ban says that since the last one expired about 350 people have been killed by "assault weapons." 350 people over almost 8 years! That average out to 43 people per year; out of ~310 million citizens. That is 0.0000001% of the population. These numbers are miniscule, why are we spending any time on them at all?! They make it sound like hundreds of people are being shot with these every day, it just isn't true. Just to put it in perspective based on the FBI's own data last year alone 728 murders were committed by totally unarmed people (hands, fits, feet, etc). Almost 17 times the average number of people killed by "assault weapons" in a given year. Yet we don't hear about the rash of people being beaten to death do we? I just wish people would be honest about the "assault weapons" they aren't the scourge that they get portrayed as. Especially when you are nearly 17 times more likely to be beaten to death than you are to be shot to death by an "assault weapon."

    March 11, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. cat sighting

    There is no such thing as an assault weapon.

    March 11, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. Bud

    So... he just proved that a law abiding citizen with a clean record can purchase guns relatively easily. The real shockers is where he found an AR15 still in stock.

    March 11, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. Pete

    What's really funny here if you've done any reading or listening to anything but FOX crap you'll know also that Mr.Kelly is already licenced for guns and a member of the NRA..Has anyone but me take notice of this or am I a mind reader..The only time you need to wait in Florida is because of a law called a cooling off period in buying guns 5 days,nothing more or if you have a concealed permit as myself you walk out with it plain and simple!!

    March 11, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    you know what I learned from Rep Giffords shooting? A 9mm<45

    March 11, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12