If all publicity is good publicity, then Mark Kelly had a great weekend. First his gun-buying stunt appears to have backfired and then his daughter’s dog attacks a sea lion. For those who don’t know, Kelly is a retired astronaut and the husband to former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords.
Kelly and Giffords recently founded a gun-control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS). Giffords, who was shot in the head by Jared Loughner during a public meeting with Arizona voters, has been a strong advocate for stricter gun laws. The ARS’s stated mission is “to encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them.” According to an editorial in USA Today, written by Giffords and Kelly, part of the ARS “solution” is to “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby, and will line up squarely behind leaders who will stand up for what’s right.”
One of the “solutions to prevent gun violence” apparently involved Mark Kelly purchasing an AR-15 at an Arizona gun store. Once news of Kelly’s purchase hit the social media outlets accusing him of hypocrisy, Kelly had to state that his real intention (or at least claim it was his real intention) was to show “how easy” it was to purchase one of these demonized assault weapons.
Gun store owner Doug MacKinlay had a different perspective. On Saturday he announced that he was nixing the sale because Kelly, by his own admission, was buying the gun “for reasons other than for his personal use.” In other words, Kelly unwittingly proved that the current system does exactly what Kelly claims it does not do. His attempt to politicize his gun purchase blew up in his face. Rather than be a pawn in Kelly’s media event, Doug MacKinlay did what every responsible gun seller would do. MacKinlay’s FFL (Federal Firearm License) could have been revoked had he allowed the sale to go through. By claiming “personal use” on his application and then later saying that he was trying to show how easy it was to buy an AR-15, Kelly was admitting that he lied on his application. By selling a gun to a known false applicant, MacKinlay’s life and business would have quickly become collateral damage in Kelly’s political stunt. Apparently getting an “assault rifle” isn’t quite as “easy” as Kelly thought it would be.
Ironically, the same day, Mark Kelly was vacationing with his family on Laguna Beach, when his daughter’s bulldog caught sight of a sea lion and broke free of its leash and attacked the sea lion. The bizarre event was caught on video by a man with a cell phone and was posted to YouTube. The video, shot by Nathan (he declined to mention his last name), shows the daughter and several others trying desperately to get the dog to release its jaws from the sea lion’s neck, but it wasn’t until Kelly ran up and literally picked the dog up and shook it by the collar that it finally let go. The sea lion eventually died. The Kellys were questioned and released, with police declaring that they did nothing wrong and no charges would be filed.
But Nathan, the impromptu videographer, thinks that there is a lesson here. Asked whether he would keep the video posted he said he would, and that it should serve as a reminder that “if you have a dog of that stature and that power, they should be accompanied by someone who can handle a dog that is as powerful as an American bulldog.” Agreed, and good point Nathan. Perhaps Mark Kelly will think twice about the breed of dog he lets his daughter have. She is obviously not able to handle the dog when it goes into attack mode. Perhaps Mark Kelly should spend less time being obsessed with guns in other people’s hands and spend more time making more responsible canine ownership decisions. Dogs can kill people too, Mr. Kelly. Please remember that the next time you falsify a firearm application.