On Sunday, gun control activist Mark Kelly appeared on Fox News to make his case for tougher gun laws, including what he believes is the cornerstone of gun control reform: universal background checks.
When asked about Sen. Chuck Grassley’s effort to draft a bill that would potentially exclude UBCs, Kelly – the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a political gathering near Tucson – told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace that would be a “mistake.”
“I think any bill that does not include a universal background check is a mistake,” he said. “It’s the most common sense thing we can do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to weapons.”
Kelly went on to cite poll numbers that suggest widespread support for UBCs, which he argued runs contrary to the NRA’s narrative on the issue.
“You know, 92 percent of Americans support a universal background check,” Kelly said. “It’s 74 percent of NRA members.”
“I would hope at some point that the leadership of the NRA would just listen to their membership on this issue,” he added.
According to the NSSF survey, which polled 640 FFLs nationwide earlier this month, 85 percent of gun dealers oppose UBCs. When asked whether requiring background checks on all gun sales, even those private transactions, made between hobbyists and collectors, would stop criminals from obtaining firearms, 95.7 percent answered “no.”
Likewise, the ISRA survey – which polled 4,500 gun owners – found that two-thirds of respondents opposed background checks on private gun sales, even if the government was required to destroy all records of the background checks.
While support for UBCs is debatable, one place where both Kelly and the NRA agree is the need for the government to fix the broken mental health system, particularly the reporting of patients who are declared or adjudicated ‘mentally defective’ to the FBI’s criminal background check database.
WALLACE: But doesn’t the NRA have a point: if you’re going to expand the background check and cover more people, don’t you have to make sure the mental health information gets into the system, because otherwise it’s kind of a waste of time?
KELLY: They absolutely have a point. I mean, they are — they are right on that issue.
I mean, we need to encourage states to include the mental health records. After Virginia Tech, for instance, Virginia was one of the worst states on this. And after what happened in Virginia Tech, they’re actually really, really good about getting those records to the federal government.
So I’m encouraging — I mean, I would love to be able to work with the leadership of the NRA and work with the United States Senate and the House to make sure we get those records in the system and then close the gun show and private seller loophole, like 92 percent of Americans want, like 74 percent of NRA members want.
Unfortunately, one question that did not crop up during the interview was one about Kelly’s recent (controversial) purchase of an AR-15. Kelly, a vocal proponent for a federal ban on ‘assault’ weapons and standard capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds, said he bought the semiautomatic rifle to show the public how painless it is to undergo a background check.
However, due to the fact that Kelly was allegedly planning to give the rifle away to a third party, the Tucson police, the transaction was flagged and the FFL canceled the deal.
Ideally, Wallace would have asked Kelly questions about this failed stunt.