Image: Mark Kelly's Background-Check Push on Guns Now Includes Mental Health

Mark Kelly's Background-Check Push on Guns Now Includes Mental Health

Monday, 01 Apr 2013 09:26 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Retired astronaut Mark Kelly argued Sunday on Fox News that gun control legislation needs to include a universal background check with more attention to mental health screenings to prevent shootings like the Tucson one that injured his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in 2011.

Legislation that does not include a universal background check would be a "mistake," Kelly said, citing a recent poll that shows almost 90 percent of Americans would support such a measure. Even in states that are prominently pro-gun, like Sen. Marco Rubio's state of Florida, 91 percent of people would support thorough background checks, a recent Quinnipiac poll found.

"I think any bill that does not include a universal background check is a mistake," Kelly said on Fox News. "It's the most common sense thing we can do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to weapons."

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Earlier this month, Kelly tried to purchase an AR-15 military-style assault rifle from a Tucson gun shop to illustrate the ease with which gun sales are made. The background check took only "a matter of minutes," Kelly said, "not the burden that the NRA leadership says it is."

"Scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or the Internet," Kelly wrote in a posting on his Facebook account. "We really need to close the gun show and private seller loop hole."

The shop later rescinded the sale after Kelly publicized the speedy check.

Kelly also said that more needs to be done to keep guns from the mentally ill. Though he is generally against the National Rifle Association, he agreed with the organization's push to keep better mental health records. The man who shot Giffords, Jared Loughner, couldn't have bought a gun if his mental illness were documented in the system, Kelly said.

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"They [NRA] absolutely have a point. They are right on that issue," he said. "We need to encourage states to include the mental health record."

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