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Mark Kelly on Politicizing Las Vegas Shooting: ‘If Not Now, When?’

gabby giffords and mark kelly in DC

WASHINGTON – Gun-control advocate and former astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), said on Capitol Hill today that President Trump’s message of “thoughts and prayers” for the families of the victims affected by the Las Vegas shooting is insufficient to stop gun violence.

“What we’re hearing today at the Capitol and the White House are thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers are important. We send our thoughts and prayers, too, but they are not enough. Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting,” Kelly said alongside Giffords during a press conference. “Only action and leadership will do that. For years, Gabby and I have been working to get the people in this building to summon the courage to take meaningful action that make our communities safer places to live.”

Reacting to the mass shooting in Las Vegas that has claimed the lives of 59 people, Trump said, “Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded, or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.”

Kelly, co-founder of the political action committee Americans for Responsible Solutions, criticized the proposed Hearing Protection Act, which is now part of the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the bill because it would amend the Internal Revenue code to “eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers, and treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer.”

“Imagine how much worse last night’s shooting could have been if the gunman had a silencer. Imagine the confusion for first responders if they arrived on the scene to a bunch of civilians wielding their own guns attempting to return fire. Imagine the gun lobby’s version of society – everyone armed, everyone out for themselves, everyone at risk all the time. Folks, that’s just going backwards. We do not have to live this way,” said Kelly.

“We need a president who recognizes that we have a gun-violence problem and will work towards solutions. Americans need more than our president’s prayers. We need his plans. We need a Congress that will stand up to the special interests, look at the evidence, and act to save lives. Public safety must be our top priority,” he added.

Kelly and Giffords plan to campaign for Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, who is running against Republican Ed Gillespie. Kelly said guns and politics go hand-in-hand.