Mark Kelly's Woes, Pt. 2
Mark Kelly, former astronaut, spouse to Gabby Giffords, and co-founder of the anti-gun organization called Pay Attention to Us, Inc., or something similar, has been having a rough couple days. No sooner did he curtail his daughter's bulldog's rampage against the shore life of California than it was announced that he'd been turned down by a Tucson gun dealer in an effort to buy an AR-15.
According to news reports, this refusal was triggered by Kelly's plans to turn the gun over to "a police department" after he'd demonstrated how easy it was to purchase an "assault weapon." Well, best-laid plans. Kelly either forgot, or didn't know, or didn't care that it's illegal under federal law to purchase a firearm for a third party, which, in effect, is what he was doing. It's unclear at this point whether he stated his plans on Form 4473 or falsified the document. Either way, it would be seem that he's liable to prosecution.
Of course, it's unlikely that Kelly, being who he is, will ever face the bench over this matter, any more than David Gregory did. But maybe he should. And maybe, before the proceedings, it would be wise to have him examined by mental health professionals. Kelly, after all, has been acting very erratically in recent years, with his wild-eyed accusations of conspiracy concerning his wife's shooting, his attacks against people he's never met, and now this attempt to finagle an illegal purchase of a firearm. Being an astronaut is one of the most stressful occupations imaginable, with drawn-out, ferocious training that most applicants simply wash out of. Then there are the missions themselves, which have profound effects of which little is known as of yet. Astronauts endure lengthy periods of nine gravities and above during liftoff. They spend substantial periods -- up to a year -- in zero-gee, a milieu in which humans did not evolve and cannot fully adapt to. Then there are cosmic rays, solar radiation, low atmospheric pressure, lengthy periods of isolation... The overall effects of this on the psyche and personality of the astronaut remain little understood. That it has an effect is unquestionable. Consider only Buzz Aldrin's crackup after the lunar missions.
Of course, we may be reading too much into this. Whatever his oddities of behavior, it's not as if Kelly strapped on a diaper and went racing across the country on some grotesque mission of revenge...
On second thought, maybe it's a good thing he didn't get that gun.