Anyone who pays attention to the nightly news has undoubtedly seen footage from Gabby Giffords’, or perhaps more accurately, her husband Mark Kelly’s cross-country crusade against gun ownership. Focused on making stops in pro-gun and swing states, the tour has been everywhere, from Alaska to Ohio to New Hampshire. All the while, Mark Kelly continues to peddle his emotionally charged “responsible solutions” and attack senators who voted against the flawed Manchin-Toomey proposal, using his now disabled wife to appeal to low information voters. There are a variety of aspects related to Kelly’s tour that can be seen as distasteful and particularly offensive to already responsible gun owners who understand that the “solutions” being offered by Mark Kelly are simply the same gun control desires we have been hearing about for years from other fringe groups such as the Brady Campaign.
Not unlike Sarah Brady’s use of her husband, following the wounds he suffered during the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan back in the late 1980s, Mark Kelly has effectively paraded Giffords around as a champion of gun control. As recently as yesterday, news agencies were airing footage of her reading before a small crowd in Cincinnati. To see her struggle to put a coherent sentence together is indeed quite sad and serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of what we consider our daily lives. However, the whole tour comes off as political theater and wholly offensive as it is painfully clear that Giffords is being used as a prop to further an agenda that has failed many times over. These appearances undermine the message that Kelly aims to spread. That is, no serious discussion can be held while gun control groups such as Kelly’s cling so steadfastly to an emotionally saturated, borderline theatrical style of argument. If Kelly truly wants to push the anti-gun agenda and not simply his own career, he needs to drop the emotional dog and pony show and actually take time to engage those of us who know far more about firearms and gun laws than he does. Of course, such an approach would force him to admit he is wrong on many issues.
In addition to Kelly’s unwillingness to engage gun owners in a remotely reasonable manner, his campaign pulls another questionable practice from the anti-gun playbook. Far too often gun control advocates confuse victims of “gun violence” with subject area experts. Just as we have seen President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, and Senator Feinstein award preferential treatment to these victims, Mark Kelly seems to be carrying on the torch with Gabby. While we can all agree that being the victim of any violent crime would be truly awful, parading these poor people out in front of cameras to push an agenda is distasteful at best. Further, instead of addressing the underlying causes of such violence or acknowledging that the proposed laws would not eliminate gun related crime, politicians and activists have conditioned these individuals to believe that inanimate objects rather than disturbed people are responsible for their heartache. The way these groups exploit people’s ignorance of firearms related topics is truly disappointing. Such tactics are not only disingenuous, but also are detrimental to any semblance of the “discussion” that gun control advocates claim to desire. While pro-gun forces have supplied expert after expert to the debate, anti-gun groups have failed to produce any convincing evidence that they know the first thing about current laws and firearm ownership and instead have chosen a willfully ignorant and emotionally charged path toward their often unclear goals.
Another troubling issue with the Giffords/Kelly tour is that we can never be completely sure as to what the gun control end game is for them. Recently, Mark has been calling for “tighter background checks” and checks for “all” gun purchases. Currently, this seems to be what he sees as a “responsible solution”. However, only a few months ago he was pushing enthusiastically for a ban on some of the most popular semi-automatic modern rifles and standard capacity magazines. It is difficult to believe that he would not move on to these more ambitious goals were background check legislation to pass. Even more worrisome is his insistence that so many buyers are purchasing without background checks. According to a recent survey by the National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF), an overwhelming number of gun owners have undergone at least one background check.
Perhaps most insulting to gun owners is Mark Kelly’s insistence on maintaining a sort of “gun guy” façade. The way he goes around to gun ranges and has Gabby fire off a round or so before he takes a few shots for the cameras is disgusting to say the least. Few gun owners are so simple as to believe that Kelly is actually on their side. Kelly likes to talk about how he owns a Glock, but any time he is seen shooting one his form and safety skills characterize someone who has not spent much time around firearms. It is as if Mark actually believes gun owners are a bunch of simple rednecks who can easily be peer pressured into jumping behind his cause. Just as going out and buying Wusthof knives won’t make me a chef, going out and buying a Glock does not make Mark a gun guy.
All in all, the Kelly and Giffords “Rights and Responsibilities” campaign is nothing more than a continuation of the divisive, emotional approach that gun control advocates have been pushing for several years now. The exploitation of Gabby’s situation is not only sad, but serves to widen the divide between gun control groups and gun owners. Furthermore, Mark’s efforts to convince gun owners that he is one of us go beyond being simplistic and fall squarely in the insulting category.