Character Assassination: Fox Takes Aim at Gun Control Advocate

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March 12, 2013; Source: Fox News

Yesterday, NPQ noted that Mark Kelly, the husband of mass shooting victim Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recently purchased an AR-15 assault weapon. Shortly thereafter, he turned the gun over to the Tucson Police Department. USA TODAY, CNN and others noted that Kelly bought the gun to make a point about how quick and easy it is to get one’s hands on an assault rifle. That read on Kelly’s motive would seem to be consistent with Kelly’s prior gun control advocacy and his co-founding, along with Giffords, of the nonprofit Americans for Responsible Solutions.

As we noted yesterday, Giffords and Kelly are self-described “gun-owning Westerners” who believe in a “common sense” approach to guns that eschews the polar opposite positions of either an outright ban on all guns or making no changes to existing policy. Americans for Responsible Solutions advocates for criminal background checks on all gun purchases, limiting high capacity ammunition magazines, limiting assault weapons, and stopping gun trafficking.

It seems clear that Kelly bought the gun to get himself on CNN and in the pages of USA TODAY to promote his nonprofit’s ideas of “common sense” gun control. His gun purchase took place the day before a gun control rally at the same plaza where Giffords was shot. But yesterday, Fox News insinuated that something else might be at play. In a segment on “America Live with Megyn Kelly,” the titular host introduced the story by saying that it “involves questions about why one of the most vocal supporters for stricter gun control laws has recently purchased an AR-15 rifle…” With a lower-third screen graphic reading “Mark Kelly Attended Gun Control Rally One Day After Buying AR-15,” Megyn Kelly stated that Giffords’ husband “is defending his own purchase of the rifle and a handgun.” Megyn Kelly soon kicked it over to Trace Gallagher, who subtly introduced a new theory.

“And so, Megyn, you have some who claim that Mark Kelly simply got caught buying an assault rifle. Mark Kelly says no, no, no, he was simply testing the system,” Gallagher said. He went on to add, “Now was about to break the story of Kelly buying the assault weapon when Kelly posted on his Facebook page that he was turning the assault rifle in to Tucson police.” Gallagher then turned to footage of Kelly’s interview with CNN, in which he made his intentions with the purchase crystal clear. Gallagher ended on an odd note: “Here’s the irony about him turning in his assault rifle to the Tucson police. Because in Arizona, there’s a law that mandates that voluntarily surrendered guns be treated as assets and sold off to balance the Arizona budget, so it’s likely the gun that Mark Kelly turned in to Tucson police could end up in the hands of somebody else.”

Without coming right out and saying it, the Fox News cable TV coverage implied that Kelly is either a hypocrite (for buying an assault weapon despite his gun control advocacy, a contention that rests on ignoring Kelly’s stated intentions) or perhaps an idiot (for donating a gun that might wind up in some unknown person’s hands). Can’t you almost feel the weapons manufacturer-backed National Rifle Association writing this absurd script? Kelly and Giffords are a challenge to the typical narrative about “extreme” gun control advocates, and it may be that that challenge sparked this truth-twisting attempt at character assassination. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Susan Wayton

    This is really what you think? That the NRA is behind this “character assassination”? As someone who is not a member of the NRA, here is what I think:

    Kelly’s background was checked (which is also presumably why he couldn’t take the gun home that day), so it’s difficult to understand how his point was made. All Kelly did was prove that an American no criminal record can pass a background check. It seems as if a person intent on exposing any deficiencies in the existing background check system would have found somebody with a record and had that person go through the purchase process to see what happened.

    According to his own tweet:
    “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. I don’t have possession of it yet but I’ll be turning it over to the Tucson PD when I do.”

    So, what does NICS mean? Well according to the FBI, the people that run the NICS system:

    The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS…
    Instant… Immediate…. right now…

    Mr. Kelly, why are you surprised that to buy any weapon the background check only takes a matter of minutes? That’s what the law is intended to do.

    So, yes, it does seem to me that he is either an idiot or a hypocrite, regardless of him being a “gun-owning Westerner”.

    Gabby Giffords has my sympathy about being a victim; what she went thru was horrible, and she is a glowing example of grit and determination for coming thru it. But this situation…no.

  • Jack

    On 5 March Mark Kelly purchased a Sig Sauer 45 caliber pistol and a Sig Sauer M400 5.56 AR style rifle from Diamondback Police Supply Co. in Tucson. The rifle, was a “trade-in” gun having been purchased in trade from another customer. The Tuscon code mandates that such firearms be held by the gun shop for a minimum of 20 days. Once the 20-day hold lapses Mr. Kelly would be required to return to the gun store to complete the purchase, i.e. show proper identification, complete the Federal Firearms Transfer Record (Form 4473), successfully complete the NICS background check and then pay for the firearm prior to his taking physical possession of the firearm.

    If true, that Kelly and Giffords describe themselves as “pro-gun westerners” then he would have been well aware of how the “system works.”

    His story about turning the firearm over to the Tucson police department was a spin-story after caught being a hypocrite. iIt would seem he has now revealed himself to be a demonstrable liar.

  • CoyoteJoe

    Well if he was buying it to make a point it was a pretty weak point, of course a law abiding citizen like MR. Kelly should be able to buy a rifle, why would anyone expect otherwise? That excuse makes no sense at all. He bought a handgun for himself and it is reasonable to think he also bought the rifle for himself but changed his mind when his hypocrisy was pointed out for all to see. In any case, the rest of the story is not being told. If indeed Mr. Kelly bought the rifle with intention of giving it to the police department then he is guilty of a federal offence. He is in fact one of those much maligned “Straw Buyers”! There is a specific question on the ATF form 4473 which asks if this purchase is for the person’s own use. The only acceptable answer is YES. If he answered yes, that he was buying this for himself but actually intended to give it to someone else then he has committed the same offence for which the DOJ prosecuted and imprisoned the straw buyers of the Fast & Furious case. Lets see what the US Attorney’s Office have to say about that.

  • CoyoteJoe

    If Mr. Kelly was buying the gun for himself and only decided to turn it over to the police after he was caught in blatant hypocrisy then he is a liar and a hypocrite. If he intended all along to give the gun to the cops then he is a felon. The ATF form 4473 which he was required to fill out and sign specifically asks if the buyer is purchasing this gun for his own use. The only acceptable answer is YES, otherwise the transaction cannot be completed. If he answered YES but actually intended to give the gun away then he is in fact one of those evil “straw buyers”, guilty of a federal felony. But of course that’s no problem, his co-conspirator Eric Holder will refuse to prosecute and will stonewall any questions as to why not.

  • John

    What is funny is that this article is trying to tell us that the journalists/reporters for Fox News are twisting the story for their own personal political gain.
    “Yesterday, NPQ noted that Mark Kelly, the husband of mass shooting victim Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recently purchased an AR-15 assault weapon. Shortly thereafter, he turned the gun over to the Tucson Police Department.”
    Well Mike, this statement you made isn’t a personal opinion. It is an outright lie. Mark Kelly purchased the gun on March 5th, and not being able to take ownership until March 25th makes this statement “Shortly thereafter, he turned the gun over to the Tucson Police Department” a lie.
    Another example of liberal journalism to present your “facts”. Disgusting!

  • Bandofotters

    So, the ‘implied’ character assassination was inferred by the author? That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? Being a gun owner and buying another pistol, a .45, a few days earlier, I’m not buying Kelly’s explanation. He had already experienced buying a firearm multiple times.