ORLANDO — It wasn’t quite a call for gun control, but New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had a message for Washington politicians Monday: Something needs to be fixed in the wake of the Parkland (Florida) school shooting, and he’s applauding the students who are pressing for meaningful legislation.
Kraft recently made headlines by lending his private jet to a group of Parkland students in the aftermath of the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. The Patriots owner said Monday from the NFL owner’s meetings that he contributed his plane after being reached by retired astronaut Mark Kelly, a family friend who is the husband of former Representative Gabby Giffords, who suffered partial paralysis from a 2011 shooting. Kraft said Kelly asked him if he would offer the Patriots’ team jet for a group of Parkland students hoping to attend the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., last weekend. Kraft –- who has been one of the NFL’s most visible supporters of President Trump -– said he didn’t hesitate at granting the request, while also applauding a rally that has been heavily criticized by the National Rifle Association and some politicians stumping for gun rights.
“Think of little kids going to school and seeing bullets in America going over their head,” Kraft said Monday. “Something’s not right, and we’ve got to fix it. And congratulations to these kids for trying to get the attention of this country focused on it. I hope our friends in Washington are smart enough to figure out a way to listen to one another and do something that can be positive.
“I have a big problem with what’s going on in Washington and the divisiveness and no one is listening to one another,” Kraft said. “Forgetting where you stand on this issue, when they called and asked, ‘Would you send a plane to help take the wounded kids and their families?’ Kids who couldn’t go on a normal plane because [they’re injured]. We didn’t hesitate in a minute. All of you who have kids, think about losing one of your kids, who, you wake up in the morning, they go to school and they don’t come home at night. We had a plant right near [the Sandy Hook elementary shootings in 2012], and I had a chance to get involved in a few things there and see how it impacted the parents. I just thought, this is a way for our organization to be able to reach out to these people who were hurting bad. I can’t think of a worse, unnatural thing than losing a child.”
Despite being in an NFL ownership fraternity that often goes far out of its way to avoid political hot-button issues, Kraft’s support of the Parkland shooting victims and survivors has been particularly impassioned. Not only did he donate his plane, he left a personal note for those who traveled on it to the weekend’s rally. The note, which was published Monday by MMQB.com, began with a quote from author and famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, stating:
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
As Kraft said Monday, part of his emotional perspective on gun violence stems from his relationship with Giffords and her husband Mark over the years, and seeing how the Congresswoman’s life changed forever after surviving a shooting that left her with a significant brain injury.
“I’ve had the pleasure of being with them and I was thinking, how sick is it that a woman is donating her life to public service and then is injured in a way that’s permanent — by something that is so unfortunate and cuckoo,” Kraft said. “… They’re wonderful people. Every time I see her and I think of how she has been slowed down a little in public service of the country. That’s nuts. How are we going to get good people [to serve]? We have to have empathy and a sense of concern for all points of view, for all people and be good listeners. I thought [lending the plane] in a small way allowed us to do that.”
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