Arizona Gun Dealer Blocks Mark Kelly's AR-15 Purchase

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 26 2013 11:08 AM

Mark Kelly Discovers One Way to Convince a Gun Store Not to Sell You an Assault Weapon

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Mark Kelly and his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, have become high-profile advocates for increased gun control.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Maybe it's more difficult than we all thought to purchase an AR-15-style rifle—well, at least if you make it very clear that you never plan to actually fire it.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

A Tucson, Ariz., gun store says that it is canceling Mark Kelly's recent purchase of the semi-automatic rifle because the outspoken gun-control advocate wasn't going to keep the assault weapon but instead turn it over to police after using it to show how easy it was to obtain. "While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then for his personal use," Diamondback Police Supply Co. owner Douglas MacKinlay said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday.

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Kelly made something of a show of paying for the rifle and a 45.-caliber handgun earlier this month, posting a photo to Facebook and writing that the background check took only a "matter of minutes" and that it was "scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or [on] the Internet." That move sparked plenty of online discussion from both sides of the gun-control debate, something that was clearly Kelly's intent.

The retired Navy captain made the purchase on March 5, according to the Associated Press but couldn't immediately take possession of the rifle because the shop had bought it from another customer. As a result, the store was required by local law to hold the gun for 20 days to give police enough time to make sure the weapon hadn't been used in a crime. That extra time allowed MacKinlay to rethink his sales decision. He says that he is instead refunding Kelly's money and plans to donate the $1,295 the rifle sells for to the NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program designed to teach young children gun safety. Here's his full statement:

While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then for his personal use. In light of this fact, I determined that it was in my company’s best interest to terminate this transaction prior to his returning to my store to complete the Federal From 4473 and NICS background check required of Mr. Kelly before he could take possession this firearm. A full refund was sent to Mr. Kelly, via express mail, on Thursday of last week.
The Sig Sauer rifle will be donated to the Arizona Tactical Officers Association where it will be raffled off to generate funds the association can use to purchase much needed tactical equipment for the organization’s members. The A.T.O.A. represents the SWAT and Special Response officers of the state’s law enforcement community who regularly place their lives on the line to protect the residents of this state. Additionally, Diamondback Police Supply will make a $1295.00 contribution (the selling price of the M400 rifle) to the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program that teaches children, in pre-K through 3rd grade, four important steps to take if they find a gun. The emphasis of the program is on child safety, something that is important to all of us and at the core of the current debate on gun control."

Kelly and his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, have become two of the most vocal advocates for tighter gun-control laws, forming a political action committee to lobby Congress for universal background checks for gun buyers.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. for style (specifically to make the lede read better).

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