Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stands beside her husband, former astronaut… (Ross D. Franklin / AP )
A gun shop in Tucson, Ariz., has canceled an effort by retired astronaut Mark Kelly, an outspoken gun-control advocate, to buy a semiautomatic rifle as a way of demonstrating how easy it is to buy powerful weapons.
Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was one of the targets of a mass shooting near Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, had sought to purchase the Sig Sauer M400, a type of AR-15 assault weapon, to demonstrate how easy or hard it would be to buy such a rifle. Kelly and his wife have become active figures in current gun-control efforts after the shooting that left Giffords recovering from head wounds. Six people were killed and 13 injured in the attack by Jared Loughner, who is serving life in prison without parole.
But Kelly’s purchase has been rescinded, according to Doug MacKinlay, owner of Diamondback Police Supply. MacKinley was not immediately available by telephone, but he announced the cancellation in a Facebook posting.
“While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then for his personal use. In light of this fact, I determined that it was in my company’s best interest to terminate this transaction prior to his returning to my store to complete the Federal Form 4473 and NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] background check required of Mr. Kelly before he could take possession of this firearm. A full refund was sent to Mr. Kelly, via express mail, on Thursday of last week.”
MacKinlay said the gun will be donated to the Arizona Tactical Officers Assn., where it will be raffled to raise money for the group to buy tactical equipment for members of the group, which represents SWAT and Special Response officers.
The gun shop will also donate $1,295, the cost of the rifle, to "the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program that teaches children, in pre-K through 3rd grade, four important steps to take if they find a gun. The emphasis of the program is on child safety, something that is important to all of us and at the core of the current debate on gun control,” MacKinlay stated.
Kelly made his motives clear in an interview with CNN's “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer,” that it was “important for me to have firsthand knowledge about how easy it is or difficult it is to buy a weapon like that.”
In the March 11 interview Kelly said: “It is actually pretty easy. You know, 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.”
In December, a lone gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself. The attack has led to calls for more gun-control legislation including universal background checks and a renewal of the ban on assault rifles.
Those efforts are being fought by the National Rifle Assn. Congress is expected to take up gun-control legislation when it returns from its spring break.
According to the latest CBS poll released Tuesday, 47% of Americans said the nation needs stronger gun laws, a 10-point drop since December. That number, however, is still higher than in April 2012, before the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and in Newtown, where the murders occurred Dec. 14. In April, only 39% wanted stricter controls.
The poll of 1,181 adults was conducted from March 20 to March 24. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Other polls have found that about 80% of Americans back universal background checks and a majority support renewing a ban on assault weapons.
A Senate bill is expected to contain a new gun-trafficking law, universal background checks and mental health provisions.
But an assault weapons ban was dropped by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who argued there weren’t enough votes. The ban will be offered as an amendment.
Meanwhile, gun-control advocates, led by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have stepped up their efforts. His advocacy group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has launched a $12-million advertising campaign targeting senators in 13 states.
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