YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, spoke in Youngstown Thursday night. While Giffords wasn’t available for interviews, Kelly was able to share his thoughts on gun control in light of Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida.
On January 8, 2011, Giffords was one of 19 victims in a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. She survived, but still has not fully regained her speech and limb control.
Since then, she and her husband have been pushing for stricter gun laws.
Kelly said he’s surprised it’s taking Congress so long to put gun legislation on the table.
“I mean, you have 20 dead little kids in their classrooms. It should have gotten Congress to do what I think a lot of them think is the right thing to do, but politics got in the way.”
Kelly and his wife are both gun owners, and he said he’s not against guns. What he is against is the ease of buying them.
“I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment but we can’t be stupid about it,” he said. “We allow felons, people who are dangerously mentally ill, dangerous people, suspected terrorists, we let them buy firearms with little to no restrictions.”Video: “The horrific shooting that happened yesterday, completely unacceptable”
He said states with stronger gun laws experience less gun violence.
“Significantly less, so we know what works. Unfortunately, we have a political system that prevents members of Congress from doing what I oftentimes think they think is right.”
Kelly suggested background checks for people looking to buy guns in all states, along with closing the gun show loophole.
“Why do we allow a 19-year-old to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle when he can’t even buy a handgun or he can’t even drink alcohol?”
So has Kelly ever considered getting into politics to urge change from the inside?
“I feel like I’m in politics, unfortunately! I never say never, but I have no plans at the moment.”
Kelly and Giffords spoke at Stambaugh Auditorium as part of the YSU Skeggs Lecture series. Kelly also stopped by the Ward Beecher Planetarium on YSU’s campus.