Entries in Mark Kelly (48)


Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Launch Initiative to Curb Gun Violence

ABC/Ida Astute(NEW YORK) -- After she was gravely wounded by gunfire two years ago in Tucson, Ariz., former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, imagined a life out of the public eye, where she would continue therapy surrounded by the friends, family and the Arizona desert she loves so much.

But after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month, Giffords and Kelly knew they couldn't stay silent.

"Enough," Giffords said.

The couple marked the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting by sitting down with ABC's Diane Sawyer to discuss their recent visit to Newtown and their new initiative to curb gun violence, "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

"After the shooting in Tucson, there was talk about addressing some of these issues, [and] again after [a movie theater massacre in] Aurora," Colo., Kelly said.  "I'm hopeful that this time is different, and I think it is.  Twenty first-graders' being murdered in their classrooms is a very personal thing for everybody."

During their trip to Newtown, Giffords and Kelly met with families directly affected by the tragedy.

"[The] first couple that we spoke to, the dad took out his cellphone and showed us a picture of his daughter and I just about lost it, just by looking at the picture," Kelly said.  "It was just very tough and it brought back a lot of memories about what that was like for us some two years ago."

"Strength," Giffords said she told the families in Newtown.

"Gabby often told them, 'You got to have strength.  You got to fight for something,'" Kelly said.

The innocent faces of the children whose lives were abruptly taken reminded the couple, they said, of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim to die in the Tucson shooting at a Giffords constituent event.

"I think we all need to try to do something about [gun violence]," Kelly said.  "It's obvious to everybody we have a problem.  And problems can be solved."

Giffords, 42, and Kelly, 48, are both gun owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but Kelly had strong words for the National Rifle Association after the group suggested the only way to stop gun violence is to have a "good guy with a gun."

There was a good guy with a gun, Kelly said, on Jan. 8, 2011, when Jared Loughner shot Giffords and 18 other people -- six fatally -- at her "Congress on Your Corner" event.

"[A man came out] of the store next door and nearly shot the man who took down Jared Loughner," Kelly said.  "The one who eventually wrestled [Loughner] to the ground was almost killed himself by a good guy with a gun, so I don't really buy that argument."

Instead, Giffords and Kelly are proposing "common sense" changes through "Americans for Responsible Solutions."

The first change the couple hopes to enact is to require a comprehensive background check for the private sale of firearms.

"I bought a gun at Walmart recently and I went through a background check.  It's not a difficult thing to do," Kelly said.  "Why can't we just do that and make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns?"

The debate over high-capacity magazines and assault weapons has been renewed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm and a gun owner, said he doesn't believe an extended magazine is necessary for the sport.

"An extended magazine is used to kill people," he said, "lots of people."

Loughner used a magazine that had 33 rounds in Tucson, while accused Aurora shooter James Holmes had a 100-round magazine.  Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, used numerous 30-round magazines to load his Bushmaster AR-15.

Finally, Kelly hopes to address the issue of how the mentally ill are treated in the United States.  Loughner, who was deemed incompetent to stand trial, pleaded guilty to 19 counts in August.

"Jared Loughner was clearly mentally ill," Kelly said.

"Sad," Giffords added.

Kelly said, "We have to learn how to identify these people and get them treatment.  And we don't do a very good job at that."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mark Kelly: Loughner's Sentencing 'Not Exactly Closure, But It Is Resolution'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ex-astronaut Mark Kelly spoke to ABC's Diane Sawyer Thursday night about what it was like to be in the courtroom with his wife, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced.

Loughner, 24, went on a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including Giffords, who was forced to retire due to the severity of her injuries.  

On Thursday, he was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years, without parole.  Loughner pleaded guilty in a deal that allowed him to avoid the possibility of a death sentence.

Kelly said on World News with Diane Sawyer that he and Giffords now had “some sense of resolution.  Not exactly closure, but it is resolution.”

Loughner, he said, was “a little defiant in the way looking at us and looking at Gabby.  I got the sense he was trying to intimidate us, especially my wife.”

While her husband addressed the court on her behalf, Giffords stared into Loughner’s eyes.

”She stared into his eyes the entire time.  I saw a person [Loughner] who certainly has major mental illness, but who knew where he was and why he was there,” Kelly said.

Loughner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the shooting, is under orders to forcibly receive anti-psychotic medication.  He is currently being held at a prison medical facility in Missouri.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly Watch Endeavour Space Shuttle Fly Over Tucson

NASA/ Robert Markowitz(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The space shuttle Endeavour arrived in California Thursday after taking a detour over Tucson as former astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, watched from a rooftop at the University of Arizona.

Kelly, Endeavour's last commander, asked Wednesday that Endeavour make a detour and fly over Tucson, so that Giffords could see it one last time.

The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

“As part of the delivery of Endeavour to Los Angeles, Endeavour will be flown over the city of Tucson,” said the agency.  “NASA decided to honor that request to pay our respects to a long-time agency supporter in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134. The flight over Tucson will add no additional time or cost to the delivery of Endeavour.”

Kelly was training for the flight in January 2011 when Giffords was wounded in an assassination attempt in Tucson, where she was meeting with people from her district.  After weeks of watching to see how she was recovering, Kelly decided to go ahead with the flight.   It was bittersweet, but he had been training for two years with his crew, and said he had had faith in the medical team treating his wife.

This week Endeavour, now retired like the other space shuttles, flew a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history.

On Wednesday, the orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center. Endeavour then headed to El Paso Thursday, where it refueled and went on to Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles.

On Friday it will fly to Los Angeles International Airport, and then it will be prepped for transport through city streets to its final home -- as a permanent display at the California Science Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NASA to Fly Space Shuttle Endeavour Over Tucson to Honor Gabby Giffords

NASA/ Robert Markowitz(HOUSTON) -- The space shuttle Endeavour is on a 2,700-mile cross-country trip. So you have to wonder why it couldn’t make one small detour -- especially at the request of former astronaut Mark Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s last mission before it was retired.

Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was struggling to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson early last year, and his mission to the International Space Station conflicted with her recovery, so his decision to command it was bittersweet, but he had been training for so long and had faith in the medical team treating his wife.

Endeavour is flying a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history. The orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center Wednesday. Endeavour will overnight in Houston, then head to El Paso, where it will refuel, then arrive in Los Angeles late in the week. It is to go on permanent display at the California Science Center.

Mark Kelly’s request for Endeavour to make a detour and fly over Tucson, so Giffords could see it one last time, doesn’t take it that far out of the way, especially when the idea is for it to be seen anyhow.

The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but late in the day it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

“As part of the delivery of Endeavour to Los Angeles, Endeavour will be flown over the city of Tucson,” said the agency.  “NASA decided to honor that request to pay our respects to a long-time agency supporter in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134. The flight over Tucson will add no additional time or cost to the delivery of Endeavour.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Giffords’ Resignation ‘Right Decision,’ Mark Kelly tells ABC News

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- A day after wife Gabrielle Giffords resigned from Congress, Mark Kelly told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff that “it was certainly the right decision,” despite the difficulty of stepping down from her position.

“Over the past month or six weeks, she came to realize that she was not going to be in a position to run for re-election,” Kelly said. “The goal had been for her to get back to work and run for re-election but she was aware that wasn’t going to happen. She knew that she had to continue with her rehab.”

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, appeared on the House floor Wednesday to deliver her resignation letter, a little more than a year after being shot in the head.

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“This past year my colleagues and staff have worked to make sure my constituents were represented in Congress,” the Tucson native, 41, wrote in her letter of resignation. “But if I can’t return, my district deserves to elect a U.S. representative who can give 100 percent to the job now.”

Kelly, a former astronaut, said Giffords planned to remain politically active and that she hoped a moderate like herself would fill her vacant seat.

For now, Giffords is spending five to six days a week in physical, occupational and speech therapy. Kelly said she still struggled with communication but was finding progress with intensive speech therapy.

While Kelly said he was certain his wife will return to public service, he said he will not be running in 2012.

“No way,” he said. “I will not be on the ballot. … I’m never one to close any door -- there’s no point in doing that -- but no one needs to worry about me gathering those signatures.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Year Later: Mark Kelly on Gabrielle Giffords' Recovery

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- One year after the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., that almost claimed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life, the congresswoman is stringing together full sentences and even asking questions, her husband Mark Kelly told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

"She is continuing to improve each and every day," Kelly told ABC News' Dan Harris.  "Just the other day she started asking me a few questions in a row.  Back in March or April she hadn't asked a single question about anything."

In the most recent display of her progress, Giffords led a crowd gathered at the University of Arizona Mall in the Pledge of Allegiance Sunday night during a candlelight vigil held for the Tucson victims on the one year anniversary of the shooting.  Six people were killed on Jan. 8, 2011 and 13 others, including Giffords, were injured.

On the day of the shooting, Kelly spent 20 heart wrenching minutes after seeing an erroneous report that said his wife had died.

Jared Loughner shot her in the back of her head.  The bullet traveled the length of her brain on the left side and exited her skull.  Kelly boarded a friend's plane and rushed from Texas to the scene of the tragedy in Tucson.

This year has had its series of challenges, Kelly said, but Giffords continues to power through and reach new goals, just as she has all of her life -- both inside and outside of Congress.

"She gets disappointed.  You know it's a natural thing when you're struggling with this kind of injury and this kind of disability that's she's working really hard to recover from," Kelly said.  "But fortunately she's just a very positive person and somebody who works really hard and she can see the improvement so it usually doesn't last very long."

Speaking at the vigil Sunday night, Kelly, referencing his wife, said the survivors of the shooting have shown that healing is possible.

"We've even seen it here tonight, as my incredible wife Gabby led us in the Pledge of Allegiance," Kelly said to cheers from the crowd.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Year after Tucson Shootings

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- A year after shootings in Arizona which left six people dead and injured 13 others including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, several commemoration events are being held in Tucson.

The shootings occurred outside a Safeway store where Giffords was holding a public meeting with constituents. The congresswoman, who is still recovering after being shot in the head by gunman Jared Lee Loughner, arrived in Tucson on Friday.

Giffords and her husband retired Navy captain Mark Kelly will attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Arizona on Jan.8.  Other events include bell ringing throughout the city, an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral and trail walks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Speaks Out in First Interview Since Shooting

ABC/Ida Mae Astute

(NEW YORK) -- For years, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fought for her causes in Congress, fought her way through 10-mile hikes and runs with her friends in Tucson, Ariz., and with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, fought -- through in vitro fertilization and fertility drugs -- to have a child.

But on Jan. 8, all of that changed.  Following the shooting of 19 people at a meet-and-greet in Tucson, Giffords fought to survive a near-deadly gunshot to the brain, and after that, she had to fight once again for the life she wanted back.

"Difficult," Giffords says in her first interview since the shooting, with ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

Giffords still struggles for the right words to form sentences, a condition called aphasia that is common in brain injury patients.  She has undergone months of intensive speech and physical therapy to try and rebuild the connections in her brain that were severed when a bullet entered just over her left eye, traveling through the left side of her brain.

"It's clear that any lower, it would've killed her, any further midline, it would've killed her," Kelly tells Sawyer.  "If it crossed hemispheres, it would've killed her.  Any further outboard, she'd never be able to speak again.  Any higher, she'd never be able to walk."

Giffords' remarkable journey to recovery and the love story that brought her and Kelly together is the subject of a new book they worked on together, called Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.

In the beginning of the book, Kelly writes that he and his wife hoped that 2011 would be "the best year of our lives." Kelly would command the last flight of the orbiter Endeavor, Giffords would begin her third term in Congress, and the two would hopefully conceive a child together.

Instead, 2011 was punctuated first with terror and grief: 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner apparently targetted Giffords at a public event, fatally shooting six people and wounding 13 others, including Rep. Giffords. Since then, her daily routine has been hard work, occasional setbacks and personal triumphs.  Together, Giffords and Kelly learned what survival really meant.

"She was sitting in her wheelchair, tears running down her face. She was hyperventilating, absolutely panicked," Kelly told Sawyer.  "I saw how scared she was.  I got scared, too.  I just held her, and said, you know, 'We'll get through this.'"

It is that determination, along with Giffords' own personal strength, that shine through in exclusive home videos taken by Kelly and their family that will be seen for the first time as part of the Diane Sawyer special.

Kelly and Giffords' family decided to document every milestone of her recovery, realizing some day Giffords would want to know what had happened to her.

Gabby and Mark: Courage and Hope, a Diane Sawyer Exclusive, airs Monday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Steals Show at Husband’s Retirement Ceremony

Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during Captain Kelly's retirement ceremony in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords honored her husband’s career in the U.S. Navy at the White House Thursday, standing on her own to pin the Distinguished Flying Cross medal on his jacket for commanding the fourth and final flight on the space shuttle Endeavour.

While the retirement ceremony was intended to focus on Capt. Mark Kelly’s impressive career, his congresswoman wife’s presence took center stage as Kelly thanked her “for your boundless friendship and optimism as our family has traveled this road over the last eight months.”

“Gabby, you remind me every day to deny the acceptance of failure,” Kelly told his wife. “I look forward to the next phase of our life together and watching all of your future achievements.”

Photos taken of the Arizona congresswoman attending the ceremony show a beaming Giffords wearing a red jacket adorned by a Members’ lapel pin reserved for representatives. She also wore black pants and running shoes.

Approximately 50 guests were seated in the room, which is decorated with the first U.S. flag to fly over Paris after the liberation at the end of World War II.

Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the ceremony, commended Kelly for leading the shuttle in May and he also spoke directly to Giffords.

“I don’t use the word loosely. You are an inspiration. You’ve been inspirational, people looking, saying ‘I can make it, I can do this,’” Biden said. “You have spoken to the whole country.”

“As vice president I get to work with an awful lot of people who devote their lives day to day to public service,” he added. “But it’s not every day you encounter examples of sheer, sheer courage, selflessness and dedication, like you see in this couple.”

At a news conference later Thursday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was “really a thrill” to see Giffords.

“I was very impressed,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Giffords, who has been recovering privately in Houston from a bullet wound to the head. “I’ve seen Gabby probably about once a month since the eight months since the tragedy, and I was very impressed with the strength of her presence and how she walked in.”

Giffords held a bouquet of flowers and showed off a short haircut and eyeglasses, although her hair appears to have grown out a little since her last visit to Capitol Hill earlier this summer. Thursday’s visit marked the sixth time that Giffords has left Houston since surviving the assassination attempt in January.

In a landmark television event scheduled to air Nov. 14, Giffords and Kelly will share their remarkable story for the first time since the tragic Tucson shootings in an exclusive ABC News special with Diane Sawyer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords, Husband to Appear on ABC TV Special

Tom Williams/Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former space shuttle commander Mark Kelly, will appear on an ABC Television Network special in November in what will be their first interview together since Giffords was shot and seriously wounded during a meet-and-greet event in Tucson last January.

The special airing on Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. ET will occur one day before the publication of the couple's memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.

ABC World News anchor Diana Sawyer hosts the program that will follow Giffords' and Kelly's lives together before and after the shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including the Arizona Democrat who suffered a bullet wound to the brain.

Giffords' recovery has been described as miraculous given the extent of her injury, although she continues to undergo rehabilitation and is likely to for some time.

Her actual participation in the interview with Sawyer will largely depend on the progress of her recovery.

Giffords appeared in Washington last month for the first time since the shooting to vote on the debt ceiling bill that eventually passed Congress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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