Arizona assault rifle purchase by Giffords' husband triggers outcry

PHOENIX Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:49pm EDT

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) blows a kiss after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) blows a kiss after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - The husband of Gabrielle Giffords, who with his wife is a top campaigner for curbs to military-style weapon ownership, has drawn criticism for buying an assault rifle in Arizona, a purchase he said meant to highlight the need for gun control.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, who with Giffords founded a new lobbying group this year to curb gun violence, said it took only "a matter of minutes" to complete the background check for the AR-15 assault weapon he purchased at a gun shop in Tucson.

"Scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or the Internet," he wrote in a posting on his Facebook account. "We really need to close the gun show and private seller loop hole."

News of his purchase was quickly met with stinging rebukes from gun rights supporters on social media, who called Kelly a hypocrite for buying the gun in the first place.

"What a two faced coward you are Kelly - it's ok for you to own one and protect your family but not the rest of us?" one Facebook poster wrote.

The group founded by Kelly and Giffords, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is pushing for a ban on high-powered semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 rifle that he bought, as well as high-capacity magazines.

Giffords was shot through the head in January 2008 when a gunman opened fire on a constituent event in Tucson, killing six people and wounding a dozen others. She stepped down from Congress a year later to focus on her recovery.

She and Kelly launched their gun control campaign in the wake of an assault rifle attack on a Connecticut school in December that killed 26 people, including 20 elementary school children.

The group is also calling on the U.S. Congress to mandate universal background checks for all gun buyers, and seeks to raise $20 million for the 2014 congressional elections - matching the powerful National Rifle Association's spending in last November's election.

Kelly could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He told CNN that he made the purchase to have "first-hand knowledge" about buying such a weapon.

"For a weapon that's so deadly and really designed for the military, especially with the high-capacity magazines, it is a pretty easy thing to do, even with a background check," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer this week.

Kelly has not yet received the AR-15 because of a local ordinance requiring that the weapon be held for 20 days to ensure it was not stolen or used in any criminal activity. He said in the Facebook posting that he plans to turn it over to the Tucson police department once he receives it.

Doug MacKinlay, the owner of Diamondback Police Supply where Kelly bought the gun, said Kelly was initially turned down when he walked into the store several weeks ago because his identification was from Texas. Kelly lived in Houston but has since moved to Arizona.

Kelly said he showed Arizona identification and was able last week to buy a .45 caliber pistol and the assault weapon that he spotted while making the purchase.

MacKinlay now regrets the sale. He told Reuters he would not have sold Kelly the rifle if he knew that the $1,000 purchase was going to be used to make a political statement.

"I would have told him politely that we would not be completing the transaction," MacKinlay said. "We do not support his stance that civilians should not be able to purchase assault-style weapons. Not by a long shot."

(Editing by Tim Gaynor, Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (6)
whatsnew wrote:
Why would this legal purchase, by a person legally allowed to purchase would “highlight the need for gun control”? Any pyromaniac can drive up to a gas station and purchase gasoline does that highlight the need for more gasoline sale control?

Mar 12, 2013 10:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
captainkona wrote:
“Kelly has not yet received the AR-15 because of a local ordinance requiring that the weapon be held for 20 days to ensure it was not stolen or used in any criminal activity. He said in the Facebook posting that he plans to turn it over to the Tucson police department once he receives it.

Ahhh, so he couldn’t obtain the weapon immediately? 20 day waiting period? Well, if he planned to kill someone the next day he was just s$#t out of luck. So what is he trying to prove? If he had walked away with the gun I’d give him some credit, but he only proved that there are existing safety measures.

“The group is also calling on the U.S. Congress to mandate universal background checks for all gun buyers”

Soooo, he underwent a background check. He was clean so he can have a gun. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t get it. Again, what is the problem?

If the measures aren’t good enough for some people, too bad. The Constitution is more important that your life, my life or the lives of 20 children. Sorry to write that, but it’s true. That’s what soldiers die for. For OUR RIGHTS.

Though I would like to know, since the author blew it, if Mr. Kelly (why are his and his wife’s names different?) notified the press or if this news was brought to light another way.

If he made this public, he’s legit. If it was made public by other means he is unquestionably a hypocrite and would be unworthy of further consideration.

I think Gabby Giffords is great, a wonderful lady and I understand her views even if I strongly disagree with them. But the US Constitution is the greatest governing document in existence. It has protected all of us at one time or another. It will endure while those who have no respect for it will fall.

Mar 12, 2013 10:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
This is sooooooooooo stupid, of him and reuters I have to admit…I am speechless. All I know to do any longer is try and keep this cancer on the rights and liberties of the American People from growing. And that is exactly what it is an erroding cacer gutting our free society. Or trying to.

Mar 12, 2013 10:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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