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. Monica

    Here's an idea.... STOP putting violent offenders (TRASH) back out on the street! STOP stigmatizing the words "mentally illness", and START educating the public more on mental illness and how to recognize the signs and what resources are available. STOP making law abiding citizens feel like criminals for owning our guns!

    March 12, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  2. Sam Waters

    He bought some weapons using a legal process. And this proves exactly what?

    March 12, 2013 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  3. Brian Smith

    Since every gun owner is a "responsible gun owner" until they commit an agregious crime, they're absolutely right, no records whatsoever should be kept on "responsible gun owners", or anyone for that matter....

    March 12, 2013 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  4. adam in indiana

    I love this "gun show loophole." Of all the gun related crime in America, 0.01% involve guns bought/sold at a gun show. FYI, the gun laws are the same whether you are in a gun show, at a gun show, outside of a gun show, at your neighbor's house, in church, walking down the street, or sitting in your home. Nothing changes.

    March 12, 2013 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  5. Janice Weller

    Anyone here see the basic flaw in his lies? He said he wanted to see what it was like to buy a gun and yet later in the interview he stresses that he and his wife are already gun owners. He got caught, and is not telling the public the truth, so forget about this family's credibility! Maybe he should drop out of public view, so he can buy all the guns he wants!

    March 12, 2013 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  6. localhost

    @yup, Anyone who says
    "Guns/rifles dont kill people. People kill people. "
    to me, is not smart enough to own a gun.

    March 12, 2013 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  7. MJP

    "One was used in the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school."
    Still perpetuating that myth at CNN, I see... At least NBC had enough integrity to apologize and admit they were wrong, and stopped parroting the same lie that the other news organizations reported even after they were officially informed that there were four pistols and NO rifles used.

    March 12, 2013 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  8. SpencerRifle

    Thankfully here in Florida there is no waiting period to take possession of a gun if you have a concealed carry permit. instant means instant.

    March 12, 2013 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  9. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    Once again we see that the left is up to old tricks, yet the real American patriots which are the regular law abiding citizens are trying to be controlled by a group who thinks they are dictators and are better than the average real American, a storm is brewing.

    March 12, 2013 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  10. JJ

    This guy needs to go back to NASA and work.
    What does this prove? That he has a clean record?
    For a smart guy he's acting like a "tool".

    March 12, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  11. tbone

    It seems that a vast number of Americans today do not understand the phrase "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED UPON" Learn it! Its our Constitutional rights given to us by the founders of our nation.
    If you don't like the laws and freedoms set forth by our founding fathers then move to another nation.

    March 12, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  12. Marie MD

    @think, I bet your would change your mind if somebody shoots you or a family member with an AR-15.
    It's true that most kills by a gun are family related but a semi automatic rifle's death toll is quicker and produces more TV time.

    March 12, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  13. Fbks68

    From previously published news reports – the AR-15 associated with the Connecticut massacre was left BEHIND in the car. In other words, was not used !

    March 12, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  14. Curious

    So, why did Kelly also buy several 30-round magazines? Do a follow-up with the PD and find out if and when the turns them over. He's thinking emotionally because of Gabby. He thoughts are tainted and not practical for Americans.

    March 12, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  15. Alex

    odd that he's pillorying the AR15 when it was a simple pistol that shattered his world

    March 12, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  16. KiplingKat

    VT Shooter had a court ordered psychiatric evaluation and treatment on his record, yet was able to buy all his guns "over the counter" from the internet, pawn shops and gun shows. That's how weak the background check system is.

    March 12, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  17. Chris

    I'm really not sure what the issue is here. A career military officer who is also a NASA astronaut passes a background check and then buys a legal weapon? Is the issue that technology made the background check too easy?

    March 12, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  18. Dan GA

    The article said he purchased the AR-15 to prove a point, and will turn over the weapon to the police department. If so, what is so disingenuous about that?

    March 12, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  19. John

    Get your facts straight – although he had an AR15 with him in his vehicle, IT WAS NOT USED. Another media sensation...

    March 12, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  20. Kyle Guthrie

    Its sad that "Shall not be Infringed" is so confusing the government, specifically but not limited too the democrats.

    The founders wanted it there because we need it to defend ourselves from them! Governments get that, thats why they want as much gun control as they can get. More gun control, less guns; less guns, easier to dictate terms when the populace gets unruly.

    March 12, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  21. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Ban assault weapons, not drones. After all, "our constitution is precious and no Americans should be gunned down by assault weapons without first being charged with a crime. As Americans we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that a person shall be held without due process and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted is a founding American principle and a basic right." Drones was never used ion America and will never ever be used in America. But it is important that we used drones to combat our enemies abroad so that we don't put American soldiers in harms way, especially when lies of WMDs are unwarranted.

    March 12, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Ban assault weapons, not drones. Drones are used to combat our enemies abroad so that we don't have to put our troops in harms way. Assault weapons are used in America to kill Americans indiscriminately. Ban assault weapons.

    March 12, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  23. HK

    slow news day?

    March 12, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  24. Guest

    It doesnt take much to drum up the fear and rhetoric with the misinformed liberal crowd. The dems should call themselves the Hollywood party, everything is just a show, smoke and mirrors! Keep feeding the ignorant with the agenda!

    March 12, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Then again, perhaps we should mass produce drones in America. After all, a drone is just a supersized Gatling gun with a propeller and a GPS system. Our constitution warrant the use of drones in America after all. Yes, its in the second Amendment. Just ask Wayne Lapierre. Sorry Sen. Ranting Paul.

    March 12, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
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