Gun control advocates name and shame... Mark Kelly?

Gun control advocates name and shame... Mark Kelly?
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

We’ve previously detailed Sen. Mark Kelly’s reluctance to be one of the public faces of gun control despite the fact that he’s the co-founder of the gun control group Giffords; a move that folks on both sides of the aisle have speculated has far more to do with Arizona’s purple politics than any qualms over the agenda pushed by the group that bears his wife’s last name.

But with the midterm elections over and Kelly safely ensconced in his Senate seat for a full six-year term, you’d think that he might be more vocal in his support for more gun control legislation, especially with Joe Biden calling on the Senate to vote on the “assault weapons” ban narrowly approved by the House before its lame duck session expires. That hasn’t happened, however, and now Kelly’s friends in the gun control lobby are starting to get a little snarky about it.

Kelly was one of several Democrats named and shamed by MFOL on social media, apparently in response to this tweet from the Newtown Action Alliance suggesting the gun ban isn’t supported by ten Senate Democrats.

Those ten Democrats (and all the Republicans in red) have all declined to sign on as co-sponsors to the gun ban approved by the House earlier this year, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they’d vote against the ban if it came up for a vote. I could see Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Angus King, and maybe even Kyrsten Sinema voting “nay” if the ban were to come up for a vote in the Senate, but does anyone honestly believe that someone like Mark Kelly would vote no when both he and the gun control group he co-founded have been in favor of a ban for years? Remember back in 2013 when Kelly tried to make a national news story over how “easy” it was for him to by an AR-15?

“Even to buy an assault weapon, the background check only takes a few minutes,” Kelly said on Facebook. “Scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or the Internet. We really need to close the gun show and private seller loophole.”

Kelly, a retired Navy captain, and Giffords are both gun owners who have been outspoken about the need for new gun-control measures. Americans for Responsible Solutions, their super PAC, has been running ads featuring Giffords that tout the proposed assault weapons ban and universal background checks.

So what’s really going on with Kelly’s reluctance to publicly throw his weight behind a Senate vote in the lame-duck session? The easiest explanation is that Kelly himself knows that the ban has no chance of passing, so it’s not worth expending political capital on a worthless vote that will only highlight the fact that even some of his fellow Democrats aren’t on board with criminalizing the manufacture and sale of the most commonly-sold rifles in the country. He’s keeping his powder dry for now, or at least playing the long game, but when push comes to shove Kelly’s still going to be a reliable vote for any infringement on the right to keep and bear arms that Democrats do bring up for debate… as well as every anti-2A judge appointed to the bench by Joe Biden over the next two years.