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Mark Kelly: Any gun bill without universal checks would be 'a mistake'

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Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, says any gun-control legislation that does not include universal background checks on all gun sales is “a mistake.”

“It’s the most common-sense thing that we can do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to weapons,” Mr. Kelly said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said that in order to be effective, any gun legislation that passes the U.S. Senate “must include background checks.” Mr. Reid has left the door open to introducing compromise legislation on the issue; at present, a bill from Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote may not garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a potential filibuster.

Mr. Kelly also said he would love to work with the National Rifle Association on making sure states provide more records to the FBI’s national instant check system. His wife, Mrs. Giffords, was gravely wounded in a shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011 that claimed the lives of six people and wounded 13 others.

“They absolutely have a point — I mean, they are right on that issue,” he said of the NRA. “We need to encourage states to include the mental health records … I would love to work with the leadership of the NRA, and work with the United States Senate and the House, to make sure we get those records in the system and then close the gun-show and private-seller loophole.”

But Mr. Kelly said he didn’t think the notion of universal checks paving the way for a national gun registry — a common fear of many gun-rights advocates — isn’t “logical.”

“It’s not a record with the federal government,” Mr. Kelly said of the current system that requires licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks. “It’s not a record that’s going to one day lead to a national registry or gun confiscation.”

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