In recent months, America has found itself embroiled in a national discussion concerning gun rights. In the wake of several high-profile shootings, such as the senseless murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, anti-gun rights advocates have labored to call attention to the issue of gun violence in America and have proposed a variety of new legislation to clamp down on access to firearms and gun rights in America.
One such anti-gun rights advocate is Mark Kelly, an astronaut and the husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords who, after being shot by a deranged gunman, has joined her husband to become a vocal anti-gun rights advocate.
Kelly and Giffords run a group called “Americans for Responsible Solutions” and have recently testified before Congress in favor of stricter gun laws.
However, in an ironic twist, it was reported on Saturday that Kelly purchased a 1911-style .45 caliber handgun, several “high-capacity” magazines and an AR-15 rifle- a rifle that many anti-gun rights activists call an “assault rifle.”
After receiving media inquiries concerning the apparent hypocrisy of him buying a weapon against which he has openly advocated, Kelly noted on his Facebook page,
“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. “
It is unclear if he has turned over the AR-15 to the Tucson Police Department. However, such a purchase is strange as the ability of a law-abiding citizen to purchase a rifle in Arizona has long been legal and demonstrating as such effectively proves nothing. The background check for Kelly likely took minutes and when it was concluded that he was in good standing with the law, he was allowed to purchase a firearm. How that affects the conversation of criminals obtaining firearms is not exactly clear.
Mark Kelly wasn’t the only anti-gun rights activist making news this week with rhetoric. Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, made waves after she claimed that since there are some magazine restrictions in hunting requirements but no such broader federal magazine requirements, it is legal to “hunt humans.” She claimed, (emphasis added)
“The time has come, America, to step up and ban these weapons. The other very important part of this bill is to ban large capacity ammunition feeding devices, those that hold more than 10 rounds. We have federal regulations and state laws that prohibit hunting ducks with more than three rounds. And yet it’s legal to hunt humans with 15-round, 30-round, even 150-round magazines. Limiting magazine capacity is critical because it is when a criminal, a drug dealer, a deranged individual has to pause to change magazines and reload that the police or brave bystanders have the opportunity to take that individual down.”
Of course, the Senator is mistaken; in all fifty states and in all U.S. territories it is, of course, illegal to hunt humans.
The original architect of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, Feinstein has proposed a renewal of an even stricter Assault Weapons Ban that specifically outlaws nearly 160 commonly-owned firearms that include rifles, shotguns and handguns.
Her bill is one of several bills being considered for a vote in the Senate after it passes the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee is set to consider four anti-gun rights bills that have created quite a rift between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The bills are the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (Feinstein), the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 (Leahy), the Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013 (Schumer), and the School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 (Boxer).
However, it has widely been noted that even if Feinstein’s bill passes committee to go on to a Senate vote, its passage is far from likely. The USA Today noted,
“The future of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which would ban 157 kinds of ‘military-style’ assault weapons, is gloomy at best in the Democratic-controlled Senate and worse in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Neither the House nor the Senate versions of the assault weapons ban have Republican co-sponsors.”