When is an “assault rifle” not an “assault rifle?”
When it is purchased by former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, at a gun store in Tucson, Ariz. At least, that must be what the Associated Press decided when it reported about Kelly’s controversial gun buy that he posted on his own Facebook page; a story picked up in Wednesday’s Seattle Times.
BULLETIN: Fox News is reporting that the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved on a 10-8 strict party line vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bill to ban so-called "assault weapons." The bill should reach the full Senate sometime in April, Fox News indicated. More details will be forthcoming.
Suddenly, the used AR-15 semiautomatic rifle Kelly bought, but has yet to pick up because it was used and there is a 20-day wait on such guns so the police in Arizona can determine whether it was stolen, has become a “military-style” rifle. Here’s what the Times’ version of the story said:
“The husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords generated nearly 4,000 comments on Facebook from people on both sides of the gun debate after he posted a photo of himself buying a military-style rifle - a purchase he said he made to demonstrate how easy it is to obtain the kind of firearms he's lobbying Congress to ban.”
Later in the story, the Times and Associated Press report, “It didn't take long for gun-rights supporters to accuse Kelly of being a hypocrite for buying an AR-15-style rifle and a 45.-caliber handgun. Many of the Facebook comments focused on his motivations and the rules for purchasing such guns.”
The story also notes, “The AR-15 is among 157 military-style weapons that would be banned under a bill pending before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Kelly, a former astronaut, said he intends to eventually hand in the rifle to Tucson police.”
Seattle Times readers had posted nearly 200 comments by Thursday morning. This column first discussed that purchase, along with the unsuccessful lobbying ploy in Olympia earlier this week of having Giffords place phone calls to members of the House, urging support for House Bill 1588.
Evidently, people who fly around the country promoting gun control measures cannot possibly buy an “assault weapon,” but can only purchase “military-style” or “AR-15-style” rifles. That wouldn’t look good, it would look bad, very bad and very hypocritical if reported the same way that the press reports such purchases by an average member of the National Rifle Association.
Twitchy is getting lots of attention for “blowing the lid” off of Kelly’s rifle purchase. Kelly complains during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that it is “pretty easy” to purchase an AR-15 “even with a background check.”
Let’s see, now, Kelly is retired military and was an astronaut for NASA and had all kinds of security clearances and obviously a clean criminal record, and he’s somehow astonished that it was “pretty easy” for him to pass a background check. That is, an “instant background check” through the National Instant Check System (NICS). Somebody should remind Kelly that this is exactly how the NICS process is supposed to work.
Lost in the hubbub about the story is Kelly’s other purchase, a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, which was the reason for his visit to Diamondback Police Supply. That interview, available on You Tube, includes a segment in which Blizter asks, “And you also bought a handgun, a .45-caliber, is that right?”
“Yeah, that one I’ll keep,” Kelly responds, explaining that he has been a gun owner all of his life.
Jared Loughner cleared a background check before he used a semiautomatic pistol, not a “military-style” rifle or an “assault rifle” to shoot Giffords and several others in Tucson more than two years ago. However, the extended capacity magazine Loughner used has become an “assault magazine” since the shooting, a term that did not exist prior to the Giffords shooting.
Kelly says he will eventually hand the rifle over to the Tucson Police. Some in the firearms community argue that’s illegal because it amounts to a “straw purchase” but that’s not true. This column checked with the Bueau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Thursday morning. It is legal for an individual to gift a firearm he purchased with his own money. The Form 4473 asks if you are the actual purchaser of the firearm, and Kelly is the actual buyer.
It would be the same for someone else who bought a rifle, say, as a gift for a family member.
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