Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, knows a thing or two about gun violence and mass shootings. Since Giffords was shot in 2011, both she and Kelly have been speaking out about the American problem with gun violence. They have formed “Americans For Responsible Solutions” and speak out about our obsession with guns.
On October 4, Kelly sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to talk gun violence, and what can and should be done about it. The interview is five minutes of awesome common sense.
Kelly starts by observing that our political leaders need to do something about what he says are loopholes in gun laws, that he believes are partly to blame for the fact that America has many more mass shootings than do other countries. He says that he thinks it is “sad” that gun laws have become a political issue, and that our leaders need to fix that problem. Of course, when your politics is run on money, and your campaign coffers are being stuffed by the NRA and gun manufacturers, it’s hard to get the political will to do something about guns. It’s a slightly different version of the Upton Sinclair quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Tapper asks Kelly if he thinks the only way to address the problem is through gun laws. Kelly responds that he thinks everything — the legal component, the cultural component, and the mental health component — is important to look at. He observes that approximately forty percent of all guns are sold in the U.S. without background checks. Politifact looked into that number, and called it into question, because it is based on a small study that is 20 years old. But here’s the scary thing. Politifact rated Kelly’s claim “half true,” because they say there is no good data on just how many guns are sold without background checks. That means that the forty percent figure could be even higher.
Kelly says that the laws make it easy for “domestic abusers” to get firearms. This should be of concern to those politicians who claim to be staunch supporters of the police, as statistics show that one of the most dangerous types of calls that police officers respond to is a domestic violence situation.
Tapper wants to know what Kelly thinks about gun free zones. Kelly’s response destroys those who say that mass killers are attracted to areas where guns are banned. He observes that only about fifteen percent of mass shootings take place in areas where guns are banned. More importantly, he says there is no indication that any of these shooters went to a gun free zone to commit their crime. In fact, a number of these shooters go into their crimes expecting, even wanting to die. Some kill themselves, others are shot by police. About seventy-five percent of mass shootings end with the death of the shooter. It’s pretty obvious that in the case of the Oregon shooting, the killer committed his act at the college not because it was a gun free zone, but because it was a place he was familiar with.
Mark Kelly is offering reasonable ideas to address the topic of gun violence, but will anybody listen? Given that the slaughter of little children at Sandy Hook didn’t move the country into action, it is hard to see how anything else possibly could.
Here’s Mark Kelly’s conversation with Jake Tapper, via CNN:
Featured image via CNN screen capture