Astronaut Mark Kelly stops by Sarasota for lecture

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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013 3:37 pm | Updated: 9:58 am, Wed Jun 19, 2013.

SARASOTA - An award-winning astronaut and husband of former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is on the Suncoast today.

Mark Kelly spoke to a sold out crowd at the Van Wezel as part of the Ringling College Town Hall Series.

Kelly talked about his journey with his wife through her healing process, the future of NASA and space exploration, but his focus now is clearly on gun control and working with lawmakers to see that laws are changed.

Kelly's wife Gabby was left partially blind with a paralyzed right arm and brain injury after she was shot at constituent meet and greet outside a Tucson grocery store in January of 2011. A gunman opened fire killing 6 people at the event.

Now, Kelly is pushing lawmakers to adopt legislation requiring a universal background check for anyone buying a gun. He says he takes a moderate stance on the issue, and after all of the recent mass shootings, something must be done. “We see this time and time again, like with what happened to Gabby. The man who killed 6 of her constituents, shot her and 12 other people, clearly mentally ill, psychofrenick. The guy in Aurora it's been determined he had some sort of mental illness, so yes, mental illness is an issue, access to guns is an issue, so I think complicated problems sometimes require complicated solutions.”

Tickets to tonight's lecture are still available. It starts at 7:30 at the Van Wezel.

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