When news of his purchase leaked to the press, Kelly claimed he bought the weapon to make a point on gun control and would turn it into police when he receives it
As a U.S. astronaut married to a former congresswoman, who had just underwent a background check to buy a handgun, it is unclear what point Kelly was attempting to make since both guns can be purchased legally.
received a tip on this when Neil McCabe, editor of Guns & Patriots newsletter, contacted the publication on March 7 and said:
Mark E. Kelly, made purchases which included an AR-15--sometimes described as an "assault rifle"--at 3:30 pm on the afternoon of March 5 at Diamondback Police Supply, 170 S. Kolb Street, Tucson, AZ.
According to McCabe, witnesses to the purchases claimed Kelly purchased "high capacity" magazines as well.
When the story broke, Kelly begin circulating the premise that he was just trying to make a point for stricter gun control laws.
"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," said Kelly.
Meanwhile, opponents of stricter gun control laws
say Kelly is simply a hypocrite who went to the gun store and bought the very weapons he publically contends should be more difficult to purchase.
The AR-15 is one of America's top-selling firearms, and gun control advocates often use it as an example of weapons that should be banned and, or, harder to purchase.
An Ar-15 similar to the one Kelly purchased along with his pistol, which he is not turning in, was used in the a massacre at a Connecticut elementary school in December. Connecticut has some of the toughest gun control laws in the U.S.
Proponents of the rifle say that because of its accuracy it is one of the safest defensive weapons available.
Meanwhile, another Democrat, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, is calling for much stricter gun laws, including a ban on all rifles with similar characteristics and features.
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on a ban that would make it illegal to purchase such “assault” weapons. The bill was introduced by liberal California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
Opponents argue that strict gun control laws are mainly adhered to by law-abiding citizens and that such bans will ensure a healthy arms black market that will put such weapons into the hands of more hardened criminals without reducing gun violence