Astronaut Mark Kelly slammed lawmakers who oppose gun-control laws after the Las Vegas mass shooting and offered a piece of advice: “You should quit.”
Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, didn’t know what a “bump stock” was before the Las Vegas massacre —but he says the signs that Congress is moving quickly to ban the semiautomatic rifle modification prove what he and other gun control advocates have argued for years: Pass the right kind of laws, and lives will be saved.
“It is a big deal,” Kelly said during a recent interview with Politico.
Even the National Rifle Association agrees on this one—though instead of backing new legislation, the group pushed for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms last week to use existing laws to crack down on bump stocks.
“They are acknowledging that legislation matters. A lot of these folks have been saying it doesn’t matter, it will never matter,” Kelly told Politico. “They have just turned that argument upside down. And that’s a good thing. You know, maybe people have to be educated, right?”
Gun violence in the US has become an endless rinse-repeat of mass shootings, politicians offering up clichéd expressions of “thoughts and prayers.” While frustrated Democrats dismiss “thoughts and prayers” as a cop-out and the issue fading from conversation until the next mass shooting, Kelly hopes this time will be different.
The astronaut-turned activist has been critical of people in Washington who tell him the answer isn’t new gun laws. He cites the comparative statistics on gun violence in states with stronger background checks and other restrictions to prove it, and like the engineer he trained as before going to space, can’t quite figure how anyone in good conscience responds to those by just repeatedly citing their NRA rating to him.
“I think if you’re a member of Congress and you fundamentally believe laws don’t work, you should quit. I mean, you really should. You’re in the wrong job. And that goes for anything, including this issue,” he said.
As Politico notes:
“He’s suspicious, as other gun control advocates are, that the move on bump stocks is an NRA ploy to seem responsive without addressing anything more significant.
The search for a motive for the Las Vegas shooter continues, but to Kelly, it’s obvious domestic terrorism, enabled by the system that Congress and the NRA have created.”
“Usually, you think terrorism, it’s got to be political or religious or some group—I’m convinced that when a guy goes to the window of a casino and tries to murder a massive number of people—he wasn’t trying to kill 50 people; he was trying to kill 500 people,” Kelly said.