Transcript: Capt. Mark Kelly’s testimony on gun violence before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Partial transcript of testimony by Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Americans for Responsible Solutions, Tucson, Arizona, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013: 

…As you know, our family has been immeasurably affected by gun violence. Gabby Giffords’s speech is a distant memory. She struggles to walk and she is partially blind.

A year ago, she left a job she loved serving the people of Arizona.

But in the past two years, we have watched Gabby’s determination, spirit, and intellect conquer her disabilities.

We aren’t here as victims. We’re speaking to you today as Americans.

We’re a lot like many of our fellow citizens following this debate about gun violence. We’re moderates. Gabby was a Republican long before she was a Democrat.

We’re both gun owners, and we take that right and responsibilities that come with it very seriously.

And we watch with horror when the news breaks to yet another tragic shooting. After 20 kids and 6 of their teachers are gunned down in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary, we said “This time must be different. Something needs to be done.”

We’re simply two reasonable Americans who have said “Enough.”

On January 8th of 2011, a young man walked up to Gabby at her constituent event in Tucson, leveled his gun, and shot her through the head.

He then turned down the line and continued firing. In 15 seconds, he emptied his magazine. It contained 33 bullets, and there were 33 wounds.

As the shooter attempted to reload, he fumbled. A woman grabbed the next magazine and others restrained him.

Gabby was the first victim. Christina Taylor Green, 9-years-old, born on 9/11/2001 was shot with the 13th bullet…and others followed.

The killer in the Tucson shooting suffered from severe mental illness. But even after being deemed unqualified for service in the Army and expulsion from Pima Community College, he was never reported to mental health authorities.

On Nov. 30th of 2010, he walked into a sporting goods store, passed the background check, and walked out with a semi-automatic handgun.

He had never been legally adjudicated as mentally ill, and even if he had, Arizona at the time had over 121,000 records of disqualifying mental illness that it had not submitted into the system.

Looking back, we can’t say with certainty “If only we had done this, this would have never happened.” There isn’t just one thing that would have prevented the Tucson shooting from being written into the history books.

Gabby is one of roughly 100,000 victims of gun violence in America each and every year. Behind every victim lays a matrix of failure and inadequacies in our families, in our communities, in our values, in our society’s approach to poverty, violence, and mental illness, and, yes, also in our politics and in our gun laws.

One of our message is simple: The breadth and complexity of gun violence is great but it is not an excuse for inaction.

There’s another side to our story. Gabby is a gun owner, and I’m a gun owner. We have our firearms for the same reasons that millions of Americans just like us have guns – to defend ourselves, to defend our families, for hunting, and for target shooting.

We believe wholly and completely in the Second Amendment and that it confers upon all Americans the right to own a firearm for protection, collection, and recreation. We take that right very seriously, and we would never, ever give it up just like Gabby would never relinquish her gun and I would never relinquish mine.

But rights demand responsibility, and this right does not extend to terrorists; it does not extend to criminals; and it does not extend to the mentally ill.

When dangerous people get guns, we’re all vulnerable – at the movies, at church, conducting our everyday business, meeting with a government official, and time after time after time, at school, on our campuses, and in our children’s classrooms.

When dangerous people get dangerous guns, we are all the more vulnerable. Dangerous people with weapons specifically designed to inflict maximum lethality upon others have turned every single corner of our society into places of carnage and gross human loss.

Our rights are paramount but our responsibilities are serious, and as a nation, we are not taking responsibility for the gun rights that our founding fathers have conferred upon us.

Now, we have some ideas on how we can take responsibility.

First, fix gun background checks. The holes in our laws make a mockery of the background check system. Congress should close the private sales loophole and get dangerous people entered into that system.

Second, remove the limitations on collecting data in conducting scientific research on gun violence, enact a tough federal gun trafficking statute – this is really important.

And finally, let’s have a careful and civil conversation about the lethality of firearms we permit to be legally bought and sold in this country.

Gabby and I are pro-gun ownership; we are also anti-gun violence. And we believe that in this debate, Congress should not look toward special interests and ideology, which push us apart, but towards compromise, which brings us together.

We believe whether you call yourself pro-gun or anti-gun violence or both that you can work together to pass laws that save lives.

Thank you.

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6 Comments on “Transcript: Capt. Mark Kelly’s testimony on gun violence before the Senate Judiciary Committee

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  6. I am glad you and Gabby have become activist to fixing this gun violence situation and that things can be done to prevent all of this violence and carnage that has happened throughout the nation. Gabby is my hero. She has gone through so much and she always has a smile in her face. She’s awesome and so glad she has a husband that loves and is there for her. You are an awesome husband and I admire you much. Many blessings and good health to both of you!!! And again thanks to Gabby for saying “ENOUGH”.

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