March 11th, 2013
03:22 PM ET
10 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. Anonymous

    Gabby Giffords' husband buys AR 15

    He actually found one for sale ???
    Way to go !!!

    It's fantastic !!!
    Just like stores in the former Soviet Union...
    BARE Shelf's...

    FORWARD >>> >>> >>> >>> >>>
    To ONLY government; with guns.

    March 12, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. firewalker25b

    This was a STRAW PURCHASE...Kelly should be ARRESTED because he said he was giving it to the POLICE DEPT.

    Are you the actual buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you. (See Important Notice 1 for actual buyer definition and examples.

    March 12, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. v_mag

    Paranoid fantasy #1: Someone is breaking into my house at 3AM. I slip from my bed, grab my trusty semi-automatic, and low-crawl down the hallway. As the criminal(s) burst through the door, I fill them with lead. I'm a hero to my family and the neighborhood. They give me a medal and tell me what a great American I am. Mel Gibson plays me in the movie version.

    Paranoid fantasy #2: The "government" knocks on my door and demands that I turn over all my guns. I pull my trusty semi-automatic from the waistband of my jeans and blow the communists away. I'm a hero to my family and the neighborhood. They give me a medal and tell me what a great American I am. Mel Gibson plays me in the movie version.

    Stark reality #1: I leave my gun lying around. Someone gets killed. I spend the rest of my life wishing I had that moment back.

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

    This is all just an NRA-fueld radicalized conservative gun nut effort to usurp MSM reporting with the distraction-story of Mark Kelly buying an AR-15...all because his video showed just how painless and unintrusive background checks really are. From every sane America out there, we sincerely thank you CNN for playing right into their hands and, instead of reporting what Kelly proved, focusing on the National Enquirer style gossiip reporting fed by idiot extremist sites like Breitbart and Drudge. Weapons of Mass Distraction. If this isn't proof of the MSM's negligent complicity in helping the increasingly radicalized right dominate the national discourse with complete and utter CRAP, then we truly don't knwo what is. So yeah, thanks...sincerely, sane America.

    March 12, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Andrew

    The spin on this story is hilarious. He bought this gun for himself.

    March 12, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Larry

    Some commentors here seem to think that Az's laws are the problem, when buying a gun at a FFL dealer the form and questions are the same in any state, there would be no loop holes if laws were passed to make it a sever crime for all straw purchases, and I mean something like 10 years or more and no early release.

    March 12, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Voter

    All Americans have the RIGHT to purchase an AR15 is they so choose. Glad to see someone excercising that RIGHT.

    March 12, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. ChrisIA

    This man is a liar and a hypocrite. The reason he doesn't even have the gun yet is he sent it in for a trigger job and a new flash suppressor. He just got caught and it even took two days for him to blather out his lies about the purchase on facebook. His anti-gun organization didn't even have a statement and could not comment for four days. Lying Elitist Hypocrite. Congratulations Mr. Kelly, you showed your hypocrasy and got caught with your hand in the cookie jar all while showing what? That a decorated member of the military with no criminal record can pass a background check? Liar!

    March 12, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    ammonimous wrote:

    An ar15 was found in the trunk of the newtown killers car. It was never used as cnn articles always say the opposite.
    The shotgun was in the trunk. The AR-15 was used as a weapon of mass death and destruction. CNN is correct. NBC is correct. Both ABC and CBS are correct. Any media outlet that tells you the AR-15 is lying to you because those parts of the police reports are freely available online. Tio suggest otherwise would be accusing the reporting officers of falsifying reports.

    March 12, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. TJ

    You gun ban nuts will only cause a large black market for un-serialized guns which will boom so instead of people following the law people will just make guns and sell them and ammo in the black market. There will be plenty of buyers and the police and FBI and any government official will not be able to stop them and instead of just certain areas of the city it will be throughout the country in mass numbers. People will not give up their guns and if the government is going to make it illegal there will be law abiding citizens as well who will buy guns in the black market if they had a chance and not say a word to the law enforcement agency period. And criminals will get them even more. So your big plans to prevent guns from hands of criminals will and guarantee backfire and you will not stop it period.

    March 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. wideglide_07

    So what is the news here? A law abiding citizen with no flags in his background buys two legal weapons from a licensed dealer by following existing laws and regulations. Why doesn't CNN just state they are for repealing the second amendment and disarming all Americans so that we can be the same as every other tryant run third worl country?

    March 12, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Spgfld Tom

    I thought the Kelly's already had plenty of guns....."we have several guns locked up in a safe at home". The sad part here is that we (the unwashed masses) continue to elect these "gun grabbers" to office. Sky high gas problem. 7.7% unemployment (more like 15%) problem. North Korea ready to declare nuclear problem. 16 trilllon in debt to problem. A law abiding citizen with a that's a problem. To paraphrase the POUS..."Michelle, unleash Joe Biden to demonize gun owners" That'll distract rabble from the real issues. .

    March 12, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. 111Dave111

    JFlowers: "most of America now think he is full of HorsePoop." & "Its his hypocricy and lies"
    Ed: "he'll be a liar." & "he'll be a fool"
    db: "A hypocritical lair"

    A lot of disrespect for an intelligent, brave, honest, and loyal patriot with moderate views.
    He certainly out-shines you-guys.

    March 12, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Phil

    So he doesn't get arrested for a straw purchase? Must be nice to be one of the elite.

    March 12, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "he sent it in for a trigger job and a new flash suppressor."

    There si absolutely no proof of that claim, nobody credible is reporting that and you are no doubt just regurgitating fabricated nonsense you read from conspiracy sites like World Net Daily.

    March 12, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. Sniffit

    "Mel Gibson plays me in the movie version."

    I lol'd. +1

    March 12, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. v_mag

    wideglide_07 - Please give me one plausible scenario for how your guns are going to be confiscated by the "government".

    In case you hadn't noticed, the national government is totally paralyzed. They can't pass squat. They can't organize a bake sale, much less the confiscation of weapons from millions of American households. They would have to use the military to do the confiscation, and no American soldier is going to obey an order to take his daddy's pistol away. It cannot happen. No way.

    Give me some plausible way it could happen, and I will publicly retract my assertion and beg all cowards to go out and buy even more guns, so that Wayne La Pierre can get even richer. And your children can be exposed to even more danger.

    March 12, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "So he doesn't get arrested for a straw purchase?"

    Hey, genius, it's not a "straw purchase" to buy a gun and turn it into the police. It's 100% legal to turn your guns in to the police at any time.

    March 12, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. CB


    Couple of points: (1) AR-15 was not used in the Newtown shooting. It was pulled from the locked trunk of the shooter's car, video shown live on TV.
    Couple of points. Yes, the AR15 was used in the shooting. The official police report is on online. Go read it. The gun found in the car was a shot gun. The victims were shot with the Bushmaster. Go read the ME report. . The news media also initially reported that Lanza's brother was the shooter, and that his mother was a teacher at the school and was killed there, are you running around spouting those as facts too?

    March 12, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. JDalco

    Once again we see the double standard. they can have the guns we can't. I don't buy the "going to give to the cops" line. . maybe now he got caught he will. . . but then it is a straw purchase since he bought the gun for someone else . . . also illegal but I am sure they won't look into it at all. . . no we need more laws on the good guys . . . they won't enforce the ones we have now and you can see they don't think they apply to them either. . . NO NEW GUN CONTROL!

    March 12, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. Tumbleweed

    A lying hypocrite like all the other gun-banners. Now he's making excuses after he got caught red-handed.

    March 12, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. James PDX

    It's amazing to see conservative towns trying to pass laws requring every citizen to own a firearm because the cons feel that a firearm in every home is the perfect deterrent to crime, yet they are stopping important legislation because they are afraid people will be able to know if they own a firearm. Hypocrisy much?

    March 12, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  23. Anonymous

    A friend of mine has a son who's a convicted felon but had no problem purchasing a gun from a pawn shop. TWO YEARS later the police came and arrested him for it and he's right now in a federal prison; what horrendous acts could have been committed in those two years though? And to the shop owner who sold it to him – NOTHING! This shows the laws we have now don't always work as they should and for that fact alone I feel any military style should not even be offered to the public.

    March 12, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. Rudy NYC


    So what is the news here? A law abiding citizen with no flags in his background buys two legal weapons from a licensed dealer by following existing laws and regulations. Why doesn't CNN just state they are for repealing the second amendment and disarming all Americans so that we can be the same as every other tryant run third worl country?
    So what is the news here? The Truth. Not the versions being spun through the right wing web of conspiracies.

    March 12, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Bob

    This guy's story doesn't add up. What would be gained by showing that a decorated veteran and upstanding citizen such as himself can pass a NICS background check? Why buy an AR-15 to demonstrate this when the same background check would be used whether he purchased an AR-15 or a Ruger 10/22?

    This guy is a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

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