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 Fryman

    First, God Bless him & his wife. I can only imagine what they have gone through.
    Secondly, I can only PRAY that he doesn't understand how he is helping this NWO cabal disarm the general public!

    March 11, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  2. Don

    A-Rod Wrote........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.

    A-Rod read the article he hasn't gotten the rifle yet and he said he was going to turn it in to the police department when he gets it. He was just trying to see how easy it is to purchase one. Read the article!!!!

    March 11, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Lumpy

    Sooooo...he bought a rifle at a gun store, after passing the required background check, just like any NON-CRIMINAL is required to do by law. He proved nothing.

    Less than .00001% of gun owners who purchased their firearm and possessed them legally used a firearm to commit a crime. Banning semi-automatic weapons and/or restricting magazine capacity will only affect legal gun owners, since criminals don't care to abide by laws.. If legal gun owners are the only ones who will abide by the laws banning these firearms, please, please someone explain HOW these laws will prevent these tragic events????

    It's all sheer nonsense, and simple agenda-pushing. If all the guns in this country disappeared today, there will still be sick people. There will still be murders, rapes, robberies and other terrible things that happen to innocent people. Banning a certain type of firearm to solve the problem is like amputating a leg to treat a broken arm.

    March 11, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Alex

    So, why is it a problem that a law-abiding citizen can purchase a firearm after passing a background check?

    March 11, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. Jared

    @Think I totally agree with the point you are making about how AR-15's are being blamed for a problem they don't create and one they can't solve. It seems like people blame assault weapons because they look dangerous but a true assault weapon isn't really defined. Just because something aesthetically looks like an M16 doesn't make it an M16. The problem is what to do next because no one can argue the fact that gun violence is no good.Background checks are a good step but anything else, I believe, is an infringement on our rights. I say instead of dumping all this money into legislation and fighting back and forth, lets put that money into the police force who can help get the truly dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and off the streets. What do you guys think?

    March 11, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. carodg4461

    Might have some credibility if he had told someone his intentions before going out, otherwise pretty much just looks like he got caught. I know this is an emotional issue to victims and their familes and I respect that, but the 1st thing any counseler tells you is to remove the emotion from the argument and see if you still have the same outlook. An AR15 is by NO means a combat weapon. I asked ,my uncle (wounder 5 times in 3 wars) what he would have done if they had given him one in Nam. He said pray like hell.

    March 11, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Robert McWhorter

    I am 62 and I have always been in awe for the rocket jockeys and I hope he never needs it but if he does, I wonder if he will change his tune? I have an AR-15 at home and I haven’t hurt anybody and I don’t intend to use it, but I think I would be better off protecting my business or my family if there was law and order breakdown in my community, people roaming around my neighborhood to have the AR-15, and I don’t think that makes me an unreasonable person. Look at Katarina and the LA riots. Would Mr. Gifford use it to protect his wife or would he say it is a bad gun so I can’t shoot?

    March 11, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. Pangolin

    The NRA is the American Taliban. Aside from the constant lies, avoidance of facts and lobbying efforts to suppress research into the actual costs of gun violence they now claim to be able to read minds.

    March 11, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. Turn off the Comments

    People who enjoy mindless tattle jumped on sharing this story, about "he got caught." The poor guy is being flamed on the Internet. It appears to be shallow at best. How about MSN and anyone accepting stories from Breitbart as "news" issue public apologies.

    March 11, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  10. missingmick

    It would stand to reason, there was nothing in his background to cause a delay or prevent his purchase. His point is moot.

    March 11, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. Fred Phred

    I urge congress to listen to the American public and the law enforcement community and support the ban on the futher manufacture of (military style) weapons.

    And before you begin to bash my comments, please understand they're not my comments.

    I am quoting Ronald Reagan.

    March 11, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Jbawld1

    A former astronaut with top secret clearence passes a background check, well duh! Then has to wait 5 days? Really, sounds fishy, plus he did not say anhy thing until after he was exposed as the liberal hypocrite he truly is. To be brutally honest the life of him, his wife and anyone else in the country, is not worth giving up our rights, The justice department needs to actually enforce the laws already on the books and that will help a hell of a lot. Get guns away from criminals not law abiding citizens. Becasue of my drunken stupidity I can not buy a gun and that is what I deserve, enforce the laws against criminals.

    March 11, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. Mike

    What a piece of work this guy Kelly is. He will keep the the .45 auto but turn in ther AR because he sys the AR is a military weapon. The .45 is a military weapon and has killed more people than the civilian non-military AR. And still so many sheeple fall for this line of crap.

    March 11, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  14. Wildman

    Kelly is merely seeking publicity for his forthcoming congressional candidacy. He and Bloomberg seem to think they should rule the world. "True American Hero"? Far from it. True Political Putz!

    March 11, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Jerry

    Duh?! There you go Chávez #2 (Obama)!!!

    March 11, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  16. CB


    "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.

    Nope. You are wrong. The gun in the car was a shot gun. The police report is on line. Go read it. You can read the medical examiners report. The victims were all shot with the Bushmaster. People are so narrow minded with their ignorance and conspiracy theories. Apparently the firearm is not the only "tool"

    March 11, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  17. Ben

    Yup – I wouldn't bet on that hammer statement. Whoever told you that lied or you son't understand sarcasm.

    March 11, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. brasstacs

    What a crock...Kelly knew very well how the system works because he has bought guns before,He has repeatedly said that both he and Gabby are gun owners...As soon as he found out that the public knew that he bought this AR-15 he posted his statement on Face book...and it's BS...Kelly is a liberal hypocrite,like Bloomberg is by surrounding himself with armed security,and issuing carry permits to his rich buddies at the same time denying the public this right.Kelly also bought some high capacity magazines,and a 1911 .45acp semi automatic pistol...All of this to test the system ?? don't make me laugh...Pathetic

    March 11, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  19. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    There should be no need for responsible gun owners to prove they're responsible before being allowed to own guns. Say again? Did that make sense? I think we just need to decide which way it'll be. Either everybody will start out being allowed to own guns with the privilege only being revoked after a gun owner goes on a rampage, or gun owners will need to put up with being required to prove they're responsible before being allowed to own guns. I just don't see any practical compromise there.

    March 11, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  20. Brian

    And we should care about this guy-why

    March 11, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  21. Carl

    What exactly is his point? That a person with no criminal record is allowed to buy a gun? I suppose next week he will go buy a car with his good credit and then hand it over to the police.

    March 11, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  22. Rick Springfield

    You can blame the American Psychological Association for the reason we have so many loopholes in background checks. Mental illness is a medical condition protected under the HIPAA laws. They also don't want anyone with any kind of "medical" condition to ever be held personally responsible for any crimes they commit. That's why we let so many people off who kill whole families. A European model is to still get the medical attention but hand down Guilty While Insane designation. That's so the various licensing and permitting processes can vet out people with mental illnesses. I used to frequently quote the John Hinlkey Jr. case as a good example. But recently there was a more local case of Dr. Stephen Wolf. He vivisectioned his son in the kitchen of his Nichols HIlls home. He was cutting off body parts on the kitchen counter with a meat cleaver. His wife called the police and when they arrived, Dr. Wolf said, "I'm having trouble beheading this kid to get the devil out of him, can you hold the body so I can get it off?" Two weeks after that incident, a state court judge ruled him innocent by reason of insanity. He could walk free that day if a doctor signed off on his release. He spent three years in mental facility and was let go. You can't find anything about his act of murder in any state or national databases. He can go to any gun shop and buy whatever firearm he desires. He can file for day care permit, be a teacher, become a police officer, or do anything he desires because his HIPAA medical files are locked away in a tight vault. If we had GUILTY WHILE INSANE, we could solve that situation and not even have to reveal any medical records.

    March 11, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    "Why does every gun control scheme focus on the legimate owner?"
    Every mass killer is a "legitimate gun owner" up until the day they come unglued.

    March 11, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  24. Carl

    And of course it has to be called a "high power" rifle, even though the whole point of the 223 is that it is actually weaker than some other rounds, but of course that's because these people are always ignorant and know nothing they didn't see in Rambo movies.

    March 11, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. ted

    Kelley did it to show how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun and if it is that easy, then the law stinks. Tighten background checks and licensing. If people are legitimate, then a tougher background check should be a breeze.

    March 11, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
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