Mark Kelly visits Napa, draws attention for gun bill

The husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords came to Napa to help draw some attention to a proposed gun control bill in Congress.
August 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., joined in an unusual gun control event in Napa Friday afternoon. Retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly fired at clay targets and talked up the need for background checks.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, heads the committee on gun violence prevention. He has been pushing a bill in Congress that doesn't yet have enough votes, so Kelly joined him in Napa at the police shooting range to lend support and draw some attention.

Kelly has been traveling around the country campaigning for stricter gun controls and on Friday he visited the police gun range in Napa to back Thompson's call for universal background checks.

Kelly describes himself as an avid gun owner and a big believer in the Second Amendment, but ever since his wife was wounded at a meet and great in her district in Arizona, the now retired astronaut has been advocating for the kind of gun laws already in place in California.

"Right now 40 percent of gun sales are done without background checks and that doesn't make any sense," said Kelly.

By coming to a sport shoot like this, Kelly and Thompson are trying to reach gun owners with that argument. Thompson's bill has plenty of Democratic support in congress, but only three Republicans have signed on.

"Ninty-one percent of the American people believe we should have background checks for people buying guns, background checks in America are more popular than capitalism, Italian food and vacations," said Thompson.

But while the polls show wide spread support for background checks, we didn't have to go any further than the Napa gun store to find a gun owner who disagrees.

"It's going to disarm just the law-biding citizens. It won't do anything for the kids, for the criminals I should say. They're still going to have their guns because they don't obey the law," said gun owner Mark Gasster.

It's an argument repeated many times over, but Kelly says in the past 14 years, almost two million times criminals have been stopped from buying guns when they tried at a gun store.

"...Which is where background checks are required. How many of those people went to the gun show or the Internet to get a gun the next day, we have no idea, but I bet you it's a lot," said Kelly.

Thompson says his bill probably won't get passed this year. Congress is too divided, but if it doesn't, he says it will become a target issue in 2014.


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