Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) will call for expanded background checks on gun buyers, and for federal studies on the impacts of gun violence, and for tougher laws on gun trafficking, according to an advance copy of his testimony.

But Kelly will stop short of calling explicitly for a new ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.

"Let's have a careful and civil conversation about the lethality of the firearms we permit to be legally bought and sold," Kelly will say, according to a copy of his testimony distributed in advance of the hearing.

The Senate hearing room was jammed with witnesses, journalists and onlookers for the unofficial start of a long and likely bitter Congressional debate over gun laws and gun violence.

"You can't just walk into a store and buy a machine gun, but you can easily buy a semi-automatic high-velocity assault rifle and/or high-capacity ammunition magazines. We should come together and decide where to draw that line in such a way that it protects our rights and communities alike."

Kelly's prepared testimony, which will follow an opening statement from Giffords herself, describes both Kelly and his wife as gun owners, who would "never" relinquish their guns.

In an earlier interview with the Washington Post, Kelly and Giffords had described the agenda of their group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, as including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks to close the “gun show loophole,” and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, like the one used to kill six people and wound Giffords and 13 others in Tucson. :