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Mark Kelly On When It's Right To Talk Politics After A Shooting


Our next guest has lived through that moment of trying to learn the fate of a loved one. He is Mark Kelly. He is the husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011 during a mass shooting in which half a dozen people were killed. Giffords survived. Mr. Kelly, welcome to the program.

MARK KELLY: Well, good morning, Steve. Thanks for having me on.

INSKEEP: What do you think about when you hear those family members seeking answers in San Bernardino?

KELLY: Well, I think that this is going to be a long process for a lot of them. I mean, you know, first you, you know, have to get through, you know, the devastating news that your family member has been killed or injured and then, you know, gathering all the facts and then just, you know, processing this over time. I mean, I really feel for them.

INSKEEP: Of course, in your case, you had the long recovery for Congresswoman Giffords to focus on. There was that physical recovery. Did it also change your outlook?

KELLY: Changed my outlook on a lot of things, in some ways. I mean, it's really demonstrated to me, you know, the power of the human spirit and especially my wife. I mean, the ability, you know, not to give up and continue to fight back. And, you know, she's a fighter every single day and continues to be.

INSKEEP: What advice would you give to people in that situation today?

KELLY: Well, you know, these are hard things. And depending on the injuries that these 17, I think it is now, survivors...


KELLY: ...Have suffered, you know, some of them are going to have a really long road ahead of them. I mean, they need to know that there are resources out there. There's help that you can get. I mean, you know, this United States, we are a very generous country. And there is a lot of resources available to these people.

INSKEEP: Now, we are at this moment where many people will cringe because politics enters into this, questions about what to do about mass shootings in the United States. I'll mention for those who don't know, that you now have a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions. It advocates what you call common sense protections from gun violence. Let me first ask when is the right moment after a mass shooting to talk about the political end of this?

KELLY: You know, I was - used to be in the camp, before I started this organization, saying now's not the time. The community needs to heal. They need to get over this. And then we should have this conversation. But how long can you do that, you know? This is the 355th, I think, mass shooting of the year or in the last 12 months. It is - you know, we have gun violence in this country that we do not see in other places like the United States. I mean, 15 to 20 times the death rate, you know, from gun violence. So, I mean, if something like this isn't the time, well, then I don't know when is. So, I mean, Congress and state legislators and governors and, you know, the president, I mean, they should act when things like his happen. First you got to figure out what - you know, why did this happen, you know, and get the details. But when you get the details and you see that there are logical common sense laws that you can put in place to maybe not stop every one of these - because no single law is going to do that - but when you see that there are steps we can take, I mean - you know, our elected leaders should do that.

INSKEEP: Name one step.

KELLY: Well, I mean, we'll have to see with this situation. I mean, we don't have all the details. But in general, in our states that have stronger gun laws and more common sense gun laws, we have lower gun violence. So an example of a step would be a universal background check. Now again, I don't know if that would have any effect on what happened yesterday.


KELLY: But often in a lot of - in a lot of gun violence, it would - or stronger domestic violence laws or strong gun trafficking - anti-gun trafficking legislation. Those things do help.

INSKEEP: OK, that's one voice in the gun debate. We're going to be hearing many more in the days to come. Mark Kelly, thank you very much.

KELLY: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: And let's just remind people. There are two suspects. They were both killed yesterday. Their names - Syed Rizwan Farook. He's 28 years old, born in the United States, of Pakistani descent. Tashfeen Malik, the other, 27, his wife from Pakistan, we're told, by friends of the family. They had a 6-month-old daughter who they left with a relative before leaving for the day yesterday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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