EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

July 6, 2013

Giffords calls for courage from NH leaders

(Continued)

Kelly, a military veteran, said the new rifle — which cost $409.95 on sale — would be his sixth or seventh gun.

“They may appreciate that I’m not some liberal East Coast person who’s never touched a gun in his life,” Kelly told The Associated Press.

Gun store owner Stan Holz noted that he’s already received hate mail and angry phone calls for agreeing to host Kelly’s visit, but thought it was important to listen to his views, regardless of whether he agrees with them.

In a statement earlier in the week announcing their New Hampshire visit, Kelly specifically called on New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte to support expanded background checks. The first-term senator voted in April against a Senate measure to close a so-called loophole that allows gun purchases without background checks at gun shows and on the Internet.

Opposed by the majority of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, the bill failed. It’s unclear if, or when, it may come up again on Capitol Hill, despite Giffords’ national tour.

At the afternoon news conference, Kelly and Giffords were careful not to criticize Ayotte directly. New Hampshire’s law enforcement community, which largely supports expanded background checks, has been reluctant to criticize Ayotte, who served as the state’s popular attorney general before being elected senator.

Nashua Police Commissioner Tom Pappas said that it’s “common sense to extend our existing laws to cover more sales of firearms.”

Auburn, N.H., officer Bill Barry added, “We just want to see our elected leaders take action.”

Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone dismissed Kelly’s criticism as a “false attack” from an “out-of-state special interest group.”

Ayotte did not meet with Giffords and Kelly, who sought a meeting during a phone conversation about a week ago.

“It was a private conversation, but a good conversation,” Kelly said.

Giffords and Kelly are scheduled to travel to Maine on Saturday.

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